First-Year Writing Seminar

Welcome to the First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS)! We are excited to have you in this class in which we introduce first-year students to Cottey’s threads of women’s leadership, social responsibility and global awareness while teaching foundational writing skills.

Watch special welcome videos created by the FWS instructors below.

During FWS you will:

  1. Receive help transitioning from high school-level to college-level writing,
  2. Hone your intellectual skills, specifically critical reading, thinking, and writing skills, and adapt those to college-level work,
  3. Be introduced to the values of Cottey during your first semester to better understand Cottey’s mission, as well as the value of a Liberal Arts and Sciences education, and
  4. Establish a learning and social community that helps you develop bonds with other students.  

This is a foundational course for Cottey students for both writing and content. You will be introduced to the benefits of women’s-only education, Cottey history, women’s leadership, social responsibility, and global awareness through the practice of thoughtful reading, analysis, and writing within a liberal arts context. This course provides you with the opportunity to connect with our institution, and connection is shown to increase student success. This signature Cottey writing course allows you to absorb our threads and become strong writers, as well as more socially and globally aware leaders within your first semester at Cottey.

In addition to the three threads and Cottey history, you also will read a book selected by the First-Year Writing Seminar Group. This common reader will serve as an anchor for the threads, class discussion and writing assignments.

About All FWS Courses

  • All first-semester Cottey students participate in FWS to improve their writing, gain an introduction to Cottey, develop a sense of identity, and connect with the campus community.
  • FWS courses are taught by faculty from across various disciplines – Writing, International Relations, Physics, Environmental Science, Leadership and Anthropology to name a few.
  • All sections of FWS will cover the same course material on the topics of Cottey history, women’s leadership, social responsibility and global awareness. Sections will read the same common reader and writing textbook each year and the same small reading assignments.
  • Classes are a mixture of discussion, lecture, and experiential learning.
  • Course material and major writing assignments will be presented in the same sequence/order each semester.
  • All major writing assignments (of which there are four) will be the same across all sections of FWS.

Individual instructors will have freedom in terms of daily work/in-class work with readings as well as freedom over informal writing assignments (in-class writing, journals, reflections, etc.).

Fall 2021 Instructors

  • Dr. Jonathan Green, Writing
  • Professor Denise Carrick Hedges, Director of Leadership Development
  • Dr. Peter Hyland, Physics and Astronomy
  • Dr. Jackie Lordo, Music
  • Dr. Mary Mba, French and Francophone
  • Dr. Sarah Polo, Writing and FWS Coordinator
  • Dr. Sarah Quick, Anthropology and Sociology
  • Dr. Oindrila Roy, International Relations


  • FWS 101 is not an orientation or experience class to help you learn “how to do college.” While you may learn skills to help you succeed in college, these skills, like time management and study habits, are not the focus on this course.
  • FWS 101 is not a busy-work or blow-off course. This is an academic seminar course worth three credits, which also fulfills a writing requirement for Cottey. View this class as you would any other college-level course.
  • FWS is not a “Cottey culture class.” While values important to the College are the content behind the course, this course is a writing course. Cottey culture and values are simply the content you will read and write about.
  • FWS 101 is not an English class. This course counts for a writing requirement, but the FWS designation doesn’t not belong to a department or major, making this class unique. Additionally, this class is taught by faculty across multiple disciplines to help expose you  to the variety and importance of writing beyond English courses. You can absolutely expect reading and writing assignments.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Request Info

Degrees & Programs