AES Seminar Series-A Liberal Arts Experience

Wednesdays, February 24 - March 24, 2:30 - 4:00 pm Pacific Standard Time

Series of Five Free Workshops. All workshops are virtual and require access to camera and audio to participate. Registration is required.

Objective of the Seminar Series (skip to workshop descriptions)

These seminars introduce you to the liberal arts classroom experience. The workshops are intended for *non-native speakers of English at intermediate to advanced levels. Each workshop centers on a different academic topic to encourage critical thinking and the practice of expressing ideas. You will have the opportunity to interact in English in a small classroom lecture and discussion environment. At the end of each workshop, you will have a better sense of your readiness for study in a U.S. higher education environment. 

Each seminar will begin with participant introductions and short introductions to Lewis & Clark and Academic English Studies, the host department. Next, the teacher will lead a presentation of the topic and provide opportunities for you to engage with AES teachers and Lewis & Clark students in small discussion groups. Each seminar will conclude with a question-and-answer session and more information on campus and topic-related resources.

Register for the Free Seminars

What is a liberal arts education?

Liberal arts education provides an opportunity to explore many disciplines, to develop critical thinking skills, to find passion, and to challenge the status quo. It compels you to wrestle with difficult questions and their changing solutions. You discover new ways of knowing yourself, your community, and the world. By working intensively with the faculty, you develop your abilities as a thoughtful reader, effective writer, and articulate participant in intellectual discourse.

To learn more about academic English support at Lewis & Clark, explore our Pathway to the Liberal Arts.

Preparation for Workshops

You will find pre-session materials for each seminar listed below. Please prepare by reading the seminar description and engaging with the materials. Materials may include readings or videos. Consider keeping a writing journal to explore your thoughts about the materials and the seminar topic prior to the workshop.

*The workshops will test your ability to engage with authentic academic materials in English. While this seminar series is intended for non-native English speakers, we welcome any international student interested in participating to learn more about studying in U.S. higher education institutions.

Workshop One: Critical Thinking for U.S. University Classrooms - February 24

Instructor: Brittney Peake

Session Description: Critical thinking is valued in the US workforce and universities. In this workshop, we will explore the concept of critical thinking as written about in the short essay, Critical Thinking, by renowned cultural critic, progressive educator, and professor bell hooks. The first half of the lesson will provide a brief review of the reading. In the second half we will discuss the concepts from the reading.

Pre-Session Materials

Reading: “Critical Thinking”

Instructions: Read the Chapter “Critical Thinking from the book, Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom by bell hooks (Yes, names should be capitalized in English, but bell hooks is a pen name, and the author chooses not to capitalize the name in hopes of drawing attention to her ideas, rather than her name.)

Pre-Session Activities - To fully engage in the discussion, we highly recommend you complete the pre-session activities.

A. Write about an idea in the reading that interests you.

  1. Select one sentence from the reading Critical Thinking that you found interesting and write it down.
  2. In your own words, what do you think the sentence you chose means?
  3. Why is the sentence you chose interesting to you?

B. Review these 5 vocabulary words from the reading. These words are from the Academic Word List and are useful vocabulary for discussing the reading.

Post-Session Exploration & Resources 

First Year Seminar

Workshop Two: Health Impacts of Social Media - March 3

Instructor: Alexis Olson

Session Description: Social media has become one of the most powerful tools in modern society. It allows us to connect with friends, family, and the global community; access information; and be entertained. Such a powerful tool has several benefits, but it has also drawn criticism for its possible role in magnifying mental health issues. We will explore the most recent scientific research in this field and reflect on how social media affects our lives.

Pre-Session Materials -

Reading: Online Social Networking and Mental Health

Pre-Session Activities - To fully engage in the discussion, we highly recommend you complete the pre-session activities.

Writing Prompt: Describe a time when you have felt bad after using a social media platform. Reflect on the cause of your negative feelings and include that in your description.

Post-Session Exploration & Resources

Film: The Social Dilemma

Rhetoric and Media Studies at Lewis & Clark

Student Research - Podcasting

Psychology Major

Workshop Three: Get Over It! Empowering Yourself - Tools from Positive Psychology-March 10 

Instructor: John Barritt

Session Description: To what extent does our perception of ourselves and our experiences impact our chances for success at any given task or goal? Social scientists take the view that many of the aspects of “the self”—or about human beings in general—that we regard as “fixed” or “natural” are, in fact, “constructed” through social interaction. We will explore this idea and how perceptions of ourselves and our own capabilities might be shifted towards more productive narratives in order to help overcome obstacles.

Pre-Session Materials

Video: “You Aren’t at the Mercy of Your Emotions—Your Brain Creates Them”

Video Worksheet

Pre-Session Activities - To fully engage in the discussion, we highly recommend you complete the pre-session activities.

Think about a problem you’ve been struggling with or a goal you’ve been having difficulty achieving. Write for at least 5-10 minutes (or longer, if you want). Try to record your thoughts honestly, without being concerned about grammar, spelling, structure, etc. Don’t worry—no one will ask you to share what you wrote during the workshop! This is just for you. Find a private place to write, if you think you’ll be disturbed. The goal of this task is simply to get your thoughts “on paper” and try to articulate as clearly as possible (to yourself) how you feel.

Post-Session Exploration & Resources

The Pandemic Project (University of Texas - Austin)

The Philosophy of Stoicism - Massimo Pigliucci

Shift Your Lens: The Power of Re-Framing Problems


Workshop Four: Models of Personal Leadership - Does Culture Matter? - March 17

Instructor: Laura Shier

Session Description: Our world continues to “shrink.” Every aspect of our lives connects us across cultures. How do we ground ourselves and retain a sense of identity? In this workshop, we will look at how values define cultures and organizations. The session will provide an overview of the Hofstede Model of Cultural Dimensions to consider in examining our own cultural values and how they inform our personal values and perspectives on leadership in societies and organizations.

Pre-Session Materials and Activities - To fully engage in the discussion, we highly recommend you view the pre-session materials complete the pre-session activities.

Personal Values Worksheet - complete this activity before the session.

TED Talk: Kluane Adamek - the Legacy of Matriarchs in the Yukon First Nations - (5 minutes) view prior to the session. 

Questions to reflect upon -Write down some thoughts to guide your participation in discussions.

  1. What does leadership mean to you? How would you describe your view of leadership?
  2. How are some of your personal values reflected in your family culture and/or your culture in general?
  3. In viewing the TED Talk, what does the speaker say about her beliefs about values and leadership? How does her culture and upbringing impact her own values?
  4. How do your own ideas on leadership connect to those expressed in by the speaker in the TED Talk?

Vocabulary - Add vocabulary questions/new vocabulary from the pre-session materials on this Google document. We will try to discuss it throughout the workshop.

Post-Session Exploration & Resources

Values-Based Leadership

Center for Ethical Leadership

Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership


Workshop Five: Conservatism and Liberalism in the US and Europe - March 24

Instructor: David Hoffman

Session Description: “Conservatism” and “Liberalism” are relative terms depending on context and history, and they are used as labels to identify groups with particular policy objectives. This session explores how the meaning of the terms has diverged between the US and Europe and what policy positions they refer to now.

Pre-Session Materials - click on the links to access
  1. Tracking the Development of Conservatism, Liberalism in the United States vs. Europe
  2. Left-Right Political Spectrum (diagram)
  3. US Liberal vs. Conservative flow chart
Pre-Session Activities - To fully engage in the discussion, we highly recommend you complete the pre-session activities.

Writing Prompt:  What are the most important issues for conservatives and liberals in your culture? What defines someone as “conservative” or “liberal,” and what connotations do these terms carry?

Post-Session Exploration & Resources

Political Typology Quiz - Are you a conservative or liberal?