First-Generation Seminars

First Gen - Law School

FYS-First-Gen courses are taught by first-generation instructors and designed specifically for first-generation students, with the intent to foster affinity and a sense of belonging through shared lived experiences and curiosity. 

The UC Davis First-Generation Initiative and First-Year Seminars have teamed up to create First-Generation Seminars. First-Gen Seminars pair faculty and students who come from a household where neither parent earned a four-year degree. This shared affinity, fosters a small, supportive classroom and degree completion.

First-Gen Seminars provide important opportunities for first-gen students to:

  • Share personal first-gen journeys
  • Discuss the challenges they encounter as they learn to navigate the university
  • Build upon the cultural wealth they possess to enrich our campus community
  • Be introduced to an academic topic of faculty interest in a small-seminar setting

To support you in teaching a First-Gen Seminar, the First-Gen Initiative has developed a library of resources (listed in the adjacent blue box) including scholarly articles, news articles, and videos on topics like academic engagement, retention, breaking down barriers, cultural wealth, and social support.  We are also creating videos of campus first gen faculty, and a Canvas module.

In 2018-19, over 25 First-Generation Seminars were offered—supporting over 500 first-gen student participants!  

Ready to Propose a First-Gen Seminar?

If you are interested in teaching a First-Gen Seminar (Fall, Winter, or Spring), please contact FYS Associate Director Dr. Eddy Ruiz at in advance. We will then reach out to you to help you create or review your syllabus. To aid you in designing your First-Gen Seminar a sample syllabus is linked below. While you do not need to follow this example, it can give you a sense of what a First-Gen Seminar might look like.

Start Your Proposal

Things to Keep in Mind

The two most important elements of a First-Gen Seminar are that:

  1. You are excited about introducing students to an engaging topic worth thinking about and
  2. You are able to touch on some of the issues that first-gen students face - your own experiences and/or those of students.
Resources for All First-Year Seminar Instructors

Like all FYS courses, First-Gen Seminars provides you with Academic Enrichment Funds of $3,000 for teaching 2-unit seminars and $2,500 for teaching 1-unit seminars.  You can use these funds for University related business expenses such as research or other academic or professional endeavors.  FYS mini-grants of up to $500 can also be requested to cover eligible expenses incurred while teaching.  Seminars can be offered for either traditional letter grades or on a pass/no pass basis.