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“˜Fiat Lux’ offers smaller class setting

By Daily Bruin Staff

June 23, 2002 9:00 p.m.

By Dorothy Augustyniak
[email protected]

Incoming students looking for a more personal, informal learning
environment may take interest in the “Fiat Lux” seminar
series, which grew out of last year’s Sept. 11 seminars.

The College of Letters & Science will launch Fiat Lux
““ which is also the university’s motto, meaning
“Let There Be Light” ““ this fall. The series
offers 150 one-unit seminars to undergraduates, mainly freshmen.
The seminars aren’t all about terrorism, and faculty members
can prepare a class on any topic.

The seminars give freshmen the opportunity to be able to
communicate with their professors in the classroom as opposed to an
introductory class with over 300 students, where such communication
is limited.

First-year students have enrollment priority for the seminars,
and the classes will have between 10 and 20 people each.

Fiat Lux offers opportunities “to enhance the
undergraduate experience by providing community services and
research with a professor along with the seminars,” said
College spokesman Harlan Lebo.

Second-year history student Annie Kang said the Sept. 11
seminars expanded her knowledge in politics because she had the
opportunity to communicate more with her professor.

“I never considered knowledge of politics to be important.
Because of the Sept. 11 seminar, I am now considering a minor in
political science,” she said.

One student did not find the Sept. 11 seminars valuable to her
educational experience, leading her to drop out of them.

“As a South Campus student, it does not make any
difference to me what the size of the classroom is. I am still able
to learn the material and know my professors,” said
third-year psychobiology student Lynn Waters.

Fiat Lux seminars are offered under Honors Collegium 98 through
URSA. Grading is on a pass/no pass basis and a pass will carry an
honors notation on the student’s transcript.

Undergraduates who wish to enroll in these seminars do not have
to be honors students.

The Fiat Lux seminars are organized into three categories:
Arts/Humanities, Culture/Society and Science/Technology.

From religion to culture to art, the seminars offered this fall
range from a number of specific topics.

One seminar, “Fundamentalism or Restoration of Eroded
Islamic Values,” focuses on eliminating misconceptions about
Islam in the Farghona Valley, an Islamic stronghold in

Another seminar, “Museums and the Fabrication of Identity:
A Critical Investigation” focuses on whether museums and
other art institutions fabricate and maintain connections between
artworks and the mentality, character and identity of national

Fiat Lux is just one of the changes the College has created in
an effort to give students a more interdisciplinary approach to

For instance, the Student Research Program began in 1985,
allowing undergraduates to perform research with a faculty member
of their choice while working on an individual project.

Another program is the freshmen General Education clusters,
which began in 1997. The College’s General Education Cluster
Program is a curricular initiative designed to strengthen the
intellectual skills of entering freshmen, introduce them to faculty
research work, and expose them to seminars and interdisciplinary

This trend continued with the emergence of the Sept. 11 seminars
by incorporating media sources and personal experiences of faculty
and students. UCLA’s top nuclear weapons expert
““ Chancellor Albert Carnesale ““ taught one of
the seminars.

Information about the Fiat Lux program is available at

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