About Discovery Seminars

Student Information & Guidelines for Discovery Seminars

Discovery 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 students from any college or major.

In Discovery Seminars, you’ll get to know faculty, learn more about how people in different academic disciplines think, and explore subjects that are new and interesting to you. These seminars will introduce some of the many opportunities that are available to you at UCSB, from different majors to undergraduate research projects, and help you get started pursuing these opportunities during your time here.

Seminar topics vary each year. View the current seminar listings on our Seminar List page.

There are three basic types of Discovery Seminars:

  1. Discovery Seminars for First-Year Students: INT 94AA-ZZ
    These one-unit lower-division seminars meet for one hour each week. UCSB faculty members develop these seminars on subjects about which they’re knowledgeable and passionate. The seminars are limited to 20 students, or 11 students if a field trip is involved.
  2. Discovery Seminars for Transfer Students: INT 186AA-ZZ
    These one-unit upper-division seminars meet for one hour each week and are designed for transfer students who have established an interest in certain disciplines and subjects. UCSB faculty members develop these seminars on subjects about which they’re knowledgeable and passionate. The seminars are limited to 20 students, or 11 students if a field trip is involved.
  3. Discovery+ Seminars: INT 89AA-ZZ or 187AA-ZZ
    These two-unit seminars meet for two hours each week; they are lower-division courses for first-year students and upper-division courses for transfer students. Discovery+ Seminars are taught by two faculty members in the same discipline or in different disciplines, and they explore a theme or a subject from multiple perspectives. The seminars typically enroll 40 students, although some may have lower enrollments.

Discovery Seminar Details and Policies
If you are interested in taking a Discovery Seminar, 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 (Discovery Seminars, First-year/LD)
  • INT 89AA-ZZ (Discovery & Linked Seminars, First-year/LD)
  • INT 186AA-ZZ (Discovery Seminars, Transfer)
  • INT 187AA-ZZ (Discovery & Linked Seminars, Transfer)

Also please note these features of Discovery Seminars:

  • 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 Seminars 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 page.

Faculty Information & Guidelines for Discovery Seminars

Thank you for your interest in teaching a Discovery Seminar. We will 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:

  • Spring 2023: Open for proposals, deadline is Friday January 20th
  • Winter 2023: Deadline was Friday October 14th
  • Fall 2023: TBD

Seminar Information
Discovery Seminars introduce students to subjects that UCSB faculty care about and demonstrate the ways that faculty think about these subjects. In this way, the seminars serve as introductions to academic disciplines--that is, they enable students to understand what subjects are of interest within particular disciplines, how faculty members in those disciplines explore and pursue research about those subjects.

Seminar units and meeting times vary by format (see below).  Each seminar is graded on a Passed/Not Passed basis.

There are three basic types of Discovery Seminars:

  1. Discovery Seminars for First-Year Students: INT 94AA-ZZ
    These one-unit lower-division seminars meet for one hour each week. UCSB faculty members develop these seminars on subjects about which they’re knowledgeable and passionate. The seminars are limited to 20 students, or 11 students if a field trip is involved.
  2. Discovery Seminars for Transfer Students: INT 186AA-ZZ
    These one-unit upper-division seminars meet for one hour each week and are designed for transfer students who have established an interest in certain disciplines and subjects. UCSB faculty members develop these seminars on subjects about which they’re knowledgeable and passionate. The seminars are limited to 20 students, or 11 students if a field trip is involved.
  3. Discovery+ Seminars: INT 89AA-ZZ or 187AA-ZZ
    These two-unit seminars meet for two hours each week; they are lower-division courses for first-year students and upper-division courses for transfer students. Discovery+ Seminars are taught by two faculty members in the same discipline or in different disciplines, and they explore a theme or a subject from multiple perspectives. The seminars typically enroll 40 students, although some may have lower enrollments.

Examples of Discovery Seminars and Discovery+ Seminars can be found in this list of past offerings.

Locating a Collaborator for Discovery+ Seminars?
If you are interested in teaching a Discovery+ Seminar, but do not have a partner faculty instructor to work with yet, consider filling out our Discovery Seminar 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.

Research/Professional Development Funds for Instructors

  • For Discovery Seminars, the faculty member receives a $1,500 in research funds (not salary), and $300 for supplies and expenses.
  • For Discovery+ Seminar, each participating faculty member receives research funds depending on the chosen enrollment maximum: $2000 per faculty member for 30 students, and $3000 for 40 students. They also receive $300 per course ($150 per instructor) 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

Who is eligible to teach a Discovery Seminar?
Current faculty who are members of the Academic Senate, Emereti, and/or Continuing Lecturers with annual appointments of .67 or higher from all colleges and schools are invited to submit a proposal. All seminars are taught over and above a faculty member’s normal teaching load. Graduate students are not eligible to teach Discovery Seminars.

Who is eligible to enroll in a Discovery Seminar?
All first-year UCSB students are eligible to enroll in lower-division Discovery Seminars. All transfer students are eligible to enroll in upper-division Discovery 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 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 (Discovery Seminars, First-year) (previously INT 94AA-ZZ)
  • INT 89AA-ZZ (Discovery+ Seminars, First-year) (previously INT 89AA-ZZ)
  • INT 186AA-ZZ (Discovery Seminars, Transfer)
  • INT 187AA-ZZ (Discovery+ Seminars, Transfer)

When, where, and how often do Discovery Seminars meet?
Discovery Seminars meet for a total of ten hours during the quarter, while Discovery+ Seminars 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 fewer 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?
Discovery Seminars do not have finals assigned 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. 

Credit and Grading

How many units is each seminar worth?
Each Discovery Seminar is worth one unit.  Discovery+ Seminars are worth 2 units.

How are seminars graded?
All Discovery Seminars are graded only on a Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) basis.

Coursework and Topics

Are off-campus trips allowed?
Instructors are more than welcome to plan field trips. Outings to museums, field research sites, plays, and lectures provide wonderful material for class discussions. There is $300 in course support included in the compensation for this seminar; if you need additional funds, there is a space on the application form for you to request funds. 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 Seminars are one- or 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 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 or transfer students, coursework and discussion level should be appropriate for this level.

Faculty Funding

What kind of financial support is received for teaching a Discovery Seminar?

Discovery Seminars: $1500 in research funds

  • 20 students in First-Year, Second-Year, Transfer, or Senior Transfer Seminars
  • 12 students in First-Year, Second-Year, Transfer, or Senior Transfer with field trips

Discovery+ Seminars: $2000 in research funds for each faculty member in seminars with 30 students

Discovery+ Seminars: $3000 in research funds for each faculty member in seminars with 40 students

In addition, instructors will receive $300 per course in support funds to pay for expenses associated with the course including copies, handouts, videos for class, transportation on a field trip, museum admission, etc. Any funds not spend on the course can be used as research funds.

How can I use the research funds?
The research funds may be used for any reimbursable research related expense. For example, these funds can be used for books, equipment, software, hardware (e.g., a laptop computer), research assistant salary, travel to professional conferences, registration for conferences, publication costs.

How do I access the funds?
Both the course support funds and the research funds 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 Seminar 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.

Contact Us

For students with questions about Discovery Seminars, or if when trying to register you have any issues, please contact Kate von der Lieth at kvonderlieth@ucsb.edu.

 

For faculty who would like more information about Discovery Seminars, please contact Madeleine Sorapure, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education at sorapure@ucsb.edu.