At the heart of the Initiatives program are an array of courses designed to introduce students to the value and excitement of liberal inquiry.
All first-year students enroll in an FYI seminar (average class size: 16). Described by one participant as “combination safety net and trampoline,” FYI seminars are not just orientation sessions, but full-fledged courses that focus on a broad range of fascinating topics through the study of which students develop core skills and encounter multiple perspectives. Each group of students constitutes a learning community, and each seminar leader also becomes the students' advisor in the liberal arts for their first two years at Beloit College. The program focuses on the development of the whole student through a set of learning objectives that lie at the intersection of academic, social, and personal development.
These completely optional courses are designed to awaken students’ intellectual curiosity and enhance their understanding and practice of the liberal arts. Faculty model liberal inquiry through teaching about the issues and works that excite them most, because deeply engaged teachers engage their students deeply, as well. "Transformational Works" courses focus on involving students in the excitement of liberal inquiry, and on helping them to develop higher-order reading and discussion skills. "Enduring Questions" courses address fundamental questions or controversies from different disciplinary perspectives, and focus on exploring how a liberal arts education furthers understanding of complex issues.