In 1996, the Hewlett Foundation invited NC State to submit a proposal dealing with general education at a research university. The Council on Undergraduate Education responded to this challenge. The application was successful and the Hewlett Initiative began its two-year program in the fall of 1997. One of the results of the Hewlett Initiative was a conviction felt by many of its participants that a first-year seminar, in which students become genuine inquirers, could make a significant impact on subsequent general education experiences, as well as courses in the major. An FYI program seemed like a good way to begin changing the way students approach all their university courses, including large lecture courses.

First-Year Inquiry pilot seminars began in the fall of 1999 with seven offerings, followed by three in the spring of 2000, seventeen in fall 2000, and eleven in spring 2001.

The purposes of the pilot are

  1. to see what difference these courses make in students’ overall learning;
  2. to learn how to integrate what students gain in this program with subsequent courses so that each student’s general education and major program are deepened; and,
  3. to identify problems involved in offering FYI courses and strategies for institutionalizing the program if it turns out to be valuable.