Discovery @ UCSB Seminars are small group courses that facilitate student-faculty contact, promote valuable intellectual discourse in a small group setting, and allow students to explore subjects outside of their majors without affecting their grade-point averages. They are open to all eligible freshman and transfer students from any campus college or major.
In Discovery @ UCSB courses you’ll get to know faculty, learn more about how people in different disciplines think, and explore subjects and questions that are new to you in ways you never expected. These courses will help you to understand the many opportunities that are available to you at UCSB, from different majors to undergraduate research, and how you can pursue them during your time here.
Seminar topics vary each year. View the current seminar listings on our Seminar List page.
Please note that Discovery @ UCSB seminars differ from normal class offerings in the rules and restrictions governing them. If you are considering enrollment in a Discovery @ UCSB seminar, please see the information below.
First Year Exploration Seminars (INT 94AA-ZZ, 1 unit). These lower division seminars focus on a subject of interest to one UCSB faculty member. These seminars, which meet one hour each week, provide an introduction to the subject through work with the faculty member. First Year Exploration Seminars are limited to 20 students, or 11 students if a field trip is involved. (Note: the INT 94 seminars may appear listed under the former name of "Freshman Seminars" in GOLD during the transition to the new name.)
First Year Discovery Seminars (INT 89AA-ZZ, 2 units). Taught by two faculty members from different disciplines, the lower division Discovery Seminars focus on how these disciplines each approach a common theme or subject in unique or common ways. Students will develop both knowledge of the subject, and a framework for understanding disciplines and their expectations. First Year Discovery Seminars are limited to 40 students.
First Year Linked Seminars (INT 89AA-ZZ, 2 units). These lower division seminars, taught by two faculty members from the same discipline or perspective, focus in greater depth on one subject. Students will learn about that subject in greater depth. First Year Linked Seminars are limited to 40 students.
Transfer Exploration Seminars (INT 186AA-ZZ, 1 unit). These upper division seminars focus on a subject of interest to one UCSB faculty member. These seminars, which meet one hour each week, provide an introduction to the subject through work with the faculty member. Transfer Exploration Seminars are limited to 20 students, or 11 students if a field trip is involved.
Transfer Discovery Seminars (INT 187AA-ZZ, 2 units). Taught by two faculty members from different disciplines, these upper division Discovery Seminars focus on how these disciplines each approach a common theme or subject in unique or common ways. Students will develop both knowledge of the subject, and a framework for understanding disciplines and their expectations. First Year Discovery Seminars are limited to 40 students.
Transfer Linked Seminars (INT 187AA-ZZ, 2 units). These upper division seminars, taught by two faculty members from the same discipline or perspective, focus in greater depth on one subject. Students will learn about that subject in greater depth. Transfer Linked Seminars are limited to 40 students.
If you are interested in Discovery @ UCSB seminars, please review the important information below:
- Seminars are listed as one of the following course numbers in the Interdisciplinary Studies department, (INT), each with a double suffix (AA-ZZ):
INT 94AA-ZZ (Exploration Seminars, First-year/LD)
INT 89AA-ZZ (Discovery & Linked Seminars, First-year/LD)
INT 186AA-ZZ (Exploration Seminars, Transfer)
INT 187AA-ZZ (Discovery & Linked Seminars, Transfer)
- Each 1.0 unit seminar meets for a total of ten hours during the quarter, and each 2.0 unit seminars meet for a total of twenty hours.
- All grading is passed/not passed (P/NP).
- Enrollment is completed using GOLD.
- There is a 3-unit maximum for the 1.0 unit Exploration seminars, and a 6-unit maximum for the 2.0 unit Discovery/Linked seminars. In other words, you may take up to three courses of one type and continue to earn credit. Discovery @ UCSB seminar courses offered by the Freshman Summer Start Program also apply to this maximum.
- No seminars with the same suffix (AA-ZZ) may be repeated.
- Students with transfer units or AP test credit may need an approval code to enroll.
- Detailed course descriptions can be found by visiting the Seminar List tab.
Consult the Seminars List for a complete listing of past and present offerings:
The Discovery @ UCSB Seminar Program, administered by the College of Letters & Science, extends a welcome to our current faculty!
Application & Deadlines
We are pleased to accept applications after the proposal deadlines below, but we cannot guarantee that late proposals will be included in the upcoming quarter's offerings.
Future deadlines for priority consideration are:
- Fall 2021: Friday May 7th
- Spring 2021: Now closed
- Winter 2022: TBD
Discovery @ UCSB seminars introduce students to subjects that UCSB faculty care about, and the ways that the faculty teaching the seminars think about these issues. In this way, they serve as introductions to academic disciplines -- that is, they enable students to understand what issues or problems are of interest within particular disciplines, how faculty members in those disciplines think about those subjects, and how they go about exploring those interests.
Seminar units and meeting times vary by format (see below). Each seminar is graded on a Passed/Not Passed basis.
Beginning in fall 2017, faculty will have new options for proposing seminars. The option to propose traditional, 1-unit seminars on subjects of interest to faculty (called "Exploration" seminars) will remain. Additionally, faculty may also choose to propose two new types of seminars: “Discovery” Seminars and “Linked” Seminars. All three formats are detailed below.
Traditional 1 unit seminar with a single instructor. Instruction totals 10 hours for the quarter, and enrollment is capped at 20 students.
Example titles and descriptions for Exploration Seminars can be found in the Seminars List.
New format, 2 unit seminar with TWO instructors from DIFFERENT departments/disciplines; designed to explore a common focus, subject, or theme from different disciplinary perspectives. Instruction totals 20 hours for the quarter, and enrollment is capped at 30, 35, or 40 students as determined by the instructors.
Examples of Discovery Seminars can be found in this list of similar past offerings.
New format, 2 unit seminar with TWO instructors from THE SAME departments/disciplines; designed to explore a common focus, subject, or theme in greater depth and from common disciplinary perspectives. Instruction totals 20 hours for the quarter, and enrollment is capped at 30, 35, or 40 students as determined by the instructors.
Example titles and descriptions for Linked Seminars can be found in the Seminars List.
If you are interested in teaching a Discovery or Linked seminar, but do not have a partner faculty instructor to work with yet, consider filling out our Discovery @ UCSB Collaboration Interest Form. Course ideas submitted to this form are publicly visible, allowing faculty to both propose and view topics of interest in order to locate partner instructors. Previous submissions to the form are visible at the results link.
Research/Professional Development Funds for Instructors:
- For Exploration seminar formats, the participating faculty member receives a $1,500 research fund (not salary), and their respective home departments receive $300 for supplies and expenses.
- For Discovery & Linked seminar formats, each participating faculty members receives a research fund depending on the chosen enrollment maximum: $2000 per faculty member for 30 students, $2500 for 35 students, and $3000 for 40 students. Their respective home departments also receive $300 for supplies and expenses.
To apply for a teaching opportunity, you are invited to submit a course proposal through the Online Faculty Application Form. Please complete all required fields, and the additional instructor fields if the seminar will have two instructors. Please note that, upon approval of your course, the College of Letters & Science will manage all room scheduling, book orders, and media requests. All faculty members who submit the electronic applications understand and agree to be the primary instructor of this proposed course.
Who is eligible to teach a Discovery @ UCSB seminar?
Only current faculty members are eligible to teach Discovery@UCSB seminars. Senate faculty and Continuing Lecturers with annual appointments of .67 or higher receive priority. Continuing lecturers with appointments of less than .67 percent and temporary lecturers may be eligible pending funding and with approval from L&S Dean's office. All seminars are taught over and above a faculty member’s normal teaching load. Graduate students are not responsible for teaching the seminars.
Who is eligible to enroll in a Discovery @ UCSB seminar?
All first-year UCSB students (not including junior transfers) are eligible to enroll in lower division Discovery @ UCSB seminars. All transfer students are eligible to enroll in upper division Discovery @ UCSB seminars. Note that some eligible students may require an approval code to enroll on GOLD due to ‘junior’ standing from Advanced Placement test credit or transfer units.
Enrollment and Scheduling
How are Discovery @ UCSB seminars identified?
Seminars are listed in the general catalog under the following course numbers in Interdisciplinary Studies (INT), each with a double suffix (AA-ZZ):
- INT 94AA-ZZ (Exploration Seminars, First-year/LD)
- INT 89AA-ZZ (Discovery & Linked Seminars, First-year/LD)
- INT 186AA-ZZ (Exploration Seminars, Transfer)
- INT 187AA-ZZ (Discovery & Linked Seminars, Transfer)
When, where, and how often do Discovery @ UCSB seminars meet?
Exploration seminars meet for a total of ten hours during the quarter, while Discovery and Linked meet for a total of 20 hours during the quarter. Typically, a 1 unit seminar meets one hour a week for ten weeks, and a 2 unit seminar meets two hours a week for ten weeks, with the exception of field trips (please see question below in the “Coursework and Topics” section).
In order to maximize classroom utilization on campus, all seminars meet in general assignment rooms. However, if it is your preference, you may choose to hold your seminar in a department-controlled room. If this is the case, you are responsible for scheduling room use in your home department. In choosing your course’s meeting time, we ask that you choose off-peak times when rooms are more likely to be available and when students tend to have less conflicts in their academic schedules. Early mornings, late afternoons, evenings, and Friday afternoons tend to be the most ideal times.
Do seminars have a final during Finals Week?
First Year Exploration Seminars do not have finals during Finals Week. Any final exam should be administered during the final class meeting for these seminars. In addition, regular class meetings may not take place during Finals Week. For other Discovery @ UCSB seminars, final examinations are at the discretion of the instructor and may occur during finals week.
Credit and Grading
How many units is each seminar worth?
Each Exploration Seminar is worth one unit. Discovery and Linked are worth 2 units.
How are seminars graded?
All Discovery @ UCSB Seminars are graded only on a Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) basis.
Coursework and Topics
Are off-campus trips allowed?
Professors are more than welcome to plan field trips. Outings to museums, field research sites, plays, and lectures provide wonderful material for class discussions. The $300 course support funding can cover field trip costs associated with a seminar. However, total expenses must not exceed $300. If you choose to plan a field trip, please note that your seminar will have an enrollment cap of 11 students. Course instructors are responsible for coordinating the use of campus vehicles for off-site excursions through Transportation Services.
What kind of reading and course work should be assigned?
As Discovery @ UCSB Seminars are one-to-two-unit classes, formal research papers are rarely assigned. Grades might be based largely on attendance, class participation, or in-class work/presentations. In addition, a final exam or a short paper could be required. In regards to course reading, one to two books or a compiled reader are within reason.
What subjects/topics are taught in Discovery @ UCSB Seminars?
Faculty from every college and every department on the UCSB campus can teach Discovery @ UCSB Seminars. Many seminars are based on a professor’s current research project/topic, professional interest, or personal interest. Allowing each professor to choose his/her topic gives students the opportunity to learn about current faculty interests and provides academic exposure to the research process. Since these seminars are designed for first-year college students, coursework and discussion level should be appropriate for this level.
What kind of financial support is received for teaching a Discovery @ UCSB Seminar?
Funding is provided for both course support and faculty incentive. Each home department will receive $300 for supplies and expenses, and each professor of record will receive $1,500 research/professional development funding. Instructors may not receive salary for Discovery@UCSB seminars.
How can I use the $300?
The $300 course support funds can be used to pay for expenses associated with the course including: copies, handouts, a video for class, transportation on a field trip, museum admission, etc.
How can I use the research fund?
The $1,500 research funding may be used for any reimbursable research related expense. To date, it has been used for books, equipment, a laptop computer, and to fund a research assistant. It also may be used towards professionally-related travel.
How do I access the funds?
Both the course support funds and the research /PD funding will be transferred to your home department approximately one month after the start of the quarter in which the seminar is scheduled to be taught. The Discovery@UCSB Coordinator will be in touch with your department’s financial contact regarding the details of the transfer. To coordinate the disbursement of the funds, please work with your department.
For more information about Discovery @ UCSB Seminars, please contact Linda Adler-Kassner, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.