Rules for Student-Organized Seminars

A Student-Organized Seminar (SOS) is a credit-bearing, P/N-course taken by a small group of undergraduate students who wish to explore a well-focused topic not already covered in, but deemed appropriate to, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences curriculum. The seminar must have the sponsorship of one or more Weinberg College faculty members, who must attend at least 80% of the seminar's meetings, and are responsible for assigning final grades (P/N).

Student-Organized Seminars are meant to be a cooperative learning experience; hence the participants should have some common knowledge of the subject's tools and terminology. One or more Weinberg College students, the student organizer(s), take responsibility for:

  • developing the syllabus,
  • organizing the week-by-week work of the seminar,
  • advertising the seminar, and
  • distributing permission slips for registration.

Proposals on a wide range of topics have been approved in recent years. For example, recent Student-Organized Seminars have been offered in: Diplomacy in the Arab World and Drugs, Social Policy, and the Law.

Rules for the seminars

Credits and grades

  • Student-Organized Seminars are listed as General Studies 298-0, carrying one unit of credit. They must be taken on a P/N basis.
  • Credit earned in SOSs cannot apply towards any Weinberg College general education requirement (foreign language, writing proficiency, freshman seminar, or distribution requirements). It may be applied to major or minor requirements only with the specific, written approval of the major or minor department or program.

Student participation

  • Restrictions on year in school or grade-point average cannot be imposed for registration in an SOS. Preference may be given to students in Weinberg College, but not to those in particular majors or programs.
  • Since SOSs are taken P/N, a student may take no more than one SOS (and no other P/N course) each quarter. The total number of seminars that may be taken for credit towards a Weinberg College degree is limited by the restrictions on P/N grades.
  • Class size must be limited to twenty students. Seminars must enroll at least 5 students to be offered.
  • Student organizers must be undergraduate Weinberg College students and must themselves enroll in the seminar.

Faculty sponsors

  • Sponsoring faculty members must be from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; SOSs sponsored by non-faculty members cannot be approved. The sponsoring faculty members must attend at least 80% of the seminar meetings. Students who wish to organize seminars sponsored by faculty members from other schools in the University must arrange them through the school of the faculty member.
  • Faculty members are under no obligation to sponsor a seminar. The work of the sponsoring faculty members is voluntary; there is no monetary compensation, nor is there typically any compensatory reduction in teaching. A department which wishes to arrange teaching compensation for a faculty member who sponsors an SOS may do so, but only if this arrangement does not affect its usual course offerings, including distribution courses and freshman seminars. Such an arrangement must be reported to the Dean's office.
  • A faculty member may sponsor at most one SOS per quarter; it is recommended that no more than one seminar per academic year be sponsored by the same faculty member.

Seminar work and subject matter

  • Each student enrolled in the seminar must produce some permanent examinable product, such as a seminar paper, essay, exam, or artistic project.
  • The sponsoring faculty member has final responsibility and authority for evaluating seminar work, assigning the grades, and signing and submitting the grade sheets, but students may participate in the grading process.
  • Craft courses, courses on sports, music appreciation, Chicago cultural activities, or those on any other topic that would not normally be approved for credit as a regular Weinberg College course offering, cannot be approved as an SOS. Proposed SOSs without substantial direct student involvement, and those that would require an inordinate amount of time from the student organizers, will not be approved.

Proposal submission and approval

  • Proposals should be submitted using the Student-Organized Seminar proposal form (doc).
  • Approval of SOSs lies with the Weinberg College Curricular Review Committee. Student organizers must submit the final copy of their proposal to Mark Sheldon, Weinberg College Assistant Dean for Academic Advising and Academic Integrity, 1908 Sheridan Road (847-491-8918) before the end of the second week of the quarter preceding the quarter during which the SOS is to be offered. It is highly recommended that a preliminary version of the proposal be discussed with Assistant Dean Sheldon well before this deadline.