Francisco Gaytan, Ph.D., Provost's Fellow for Success and Retention 
Lech Walesa Hall 3036
(773) 442-4694

The First-Year Experience (FYE) is a program for new students in their first year of study. The five facets of the overall program are as follows:

  • Transitions – to assist first-year students in adjusting to the university environment academically, behaviorally, and socially;

  • Inquiry – to facilitate students’ general academic preparation by adding a practical component to classroom work through research, civic engagement, service learning, or some other field component.

  • Readiness – to prepare students for academic achievement that spans across the curriculum in terms of the development of critical thinking skills, as well as improved written and oral expression.

  • Self-Discovery – to enable first-year students to discover their own path toward understanding their place in the university and the wider community; and

  • Future Planning – to help first-year students understand how all their coursework can prepare them for their future and what kinds of careers can result from their chosen majors and/or minors.

These five facets are addressed through both the curriculum and the co-curriculum under the general theme, “Diversity in Chicago."

The curriculum is comprised of the FYE Colloquium, which is a series of courses designed specifically for first-year students (see listings below). All courses in the FYE Colloquium series:

  1. Bear the number “109”;

  2. Carry credit toward one General Education Program requirement in the specified disciplinary area (i.e., fine arts, humanities, natural sciences, or social sciences);

  3. Contain a field component (i.e., a graded part of the course that connects the city of Chicago with the content, thus making the city a laboratory for students); and

  4. Count for 3 credits toward graduation.

A Freshman Colloquium course must be taken during students’ first year of study at Northeastern Illinois University. Students are encouraged to select the course that interests them most, since they will not be eligible to take more than one FYE Colloquium.

The co-curriculum is a series of events, activities, and services available to students outside of their classes. Students may be required to participate in some co-curricular events and activities for credit at various times throughout the academic year in partial fulfillment of their assignments for the FYE Colloquium. Check with the course instructor for details.

For other information relevant to the first-year experience, students are referred to the FYE website at

Course Offerings

AFAM-109. First Year Experience: Exploring Africa In Chicago. 3 Hours.

The Exploring Africa in Chicago course is designed to provide first year students with a brief overview of the African continent, and an opportunity to understand the rich and varied diversity of Africa and its peoples. Using Chicago as a lab, students will use standard research methods, library databases, websites, readings, speakers, films, and field experiences to discuss the rich heritage of African culture, music and arts, the continent's geography, pre-colonial and colonial history, oral and written history, its languages and ethnicity, the family systems, and political, economic, and democratic systems. Students will be encouraged to get out of the classroom and into various communities and institutions in the Chicagoland area, seek out individuals of African descent in academia, healthcare, business, industry and other professions, and use standard interview techniques to critically examine their contributions to the city of Chicago, to the United States, and to the world.

ANTH-109B. First Year Experience: Skeletons In Chicago's Closet. 3 Hours.

Bones hold an enormous amount of information about individuals and populations. This active class investigates what can be learned from bones and teeth in the context of forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, and paleobiology. We will start by learning the bones of the skeleton and move on to identifying age, sex, trauma, etc., in forensic and archaeological contexts. Finally, we will look at fossil bone and what it can reveal about past life. Students will work with bones and models in lab, complete group and individual projects, and will learn and apply useful techniques for college success. First year students only.

ANTH-109C. First Year Experience: Skin Of Chicago. 3 Hours.

We wear about 9 lbs. of it every day, but we take most of its functions, adaptations, uses, and subtle cultural signals for granted. Skin is something everyone should know inside and out. For anthropologists, skin is a place where issues of biology, comparative anatomy, culture, evolution, archaeology, tradition, taboo, ritual, art, diversity, and race all come together. An understanding of human skin helps to turn over the judgments people make about others based on skin color. Using Chicago as a field laboratory, we will discover the wonders of skin, ever mindful of how we fit inside our own.

ART-109. First Year Experience:Art, Architecture And Urban Design In Chicago. 3 Hours.

This field-based course explores art in an urban environment, examines the relationships between art and urban culture, and considers the role of art in an urban setting. Students will gain a familiarity with Chicago as a cultural home; they will evaluate the role of public art in Chicago, examine the design and purpose of open spaces, and gain a familiarity with the Chicago school of architecture.

BLAW-109. First Year Experience: Professionalism, Ethics, Law & Chicago Scandals. 3 Hours.

This course examines the intersection between professionalism, ethics and law from a business perspective. We will look at these issues through the lens of major business-related Chicago scandals, predominantly non-political, and we will take multiple trips to visit some of the actors involved in these scandals, such as judges, lawyers and businessmen, who will further inform students about the importance of professionalism, ethics and compliance with laws. The topics covered in this course include defining professionalism, comparing professionalism to ethics, critically evaluating the differences and the importance of both, and discussing the legal process as it applies to white collar crimes.

CMTM-109A. First Year Experience: Chicago On Video: One Pixel At A Time. 3 Hours.

In this course, the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery and Transitions) are interwoven with the field-specific concepts and terminology of video production. Students in this dynamic, hands-on class will turn the lens on other students engaged in hands-on learning….producing children’s theatre, testing water samples, conducting fieldwork, examining issues of social justice…and get a taste of both documentary production and advanced undergraduate coursework at NEIU. Students will also get to explore uses of video at the community level - from high school students covering sports events, to local immigrants keeping their cultural ties alive.

CS-109. First Year Experience: The Information Age: Its Impact On Chicago's Culture. 3 Hours.

The 21st century has seen the genesis of the Information Age. Advances in computer technology have made immediate access to information and sophisticated processing of information commonplace in business, science, medicine, education, various professional areas and many aspects of personal life. This course focuses on how this has impacted Chicago's culture and its diverse communities. This course fulfills the First Year Experience (FYE) requirement. FYE-109 courses are intended for Freshmen only. Students may not take more than one FYE-109 course.

DANC-109. First Year Experience: Steppin' Out: Dance In Chicago. 3 Hours.

A course designed to increase the student's awareness, understanding and enjoyment of a variety of styles of aesthetic/theatrical dance. The course incorporates both movement and non-movement based approaches to learning about dance as an art form , and will focus on learning about ballet, modern, jazz and ethnic dance through lectures, discussions, films, the attendance of outside performances, and written assignments. In this course, the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery and Transitions) are interwoven with the field specific concepts in dance.

ECON-109. First Year Experience: Money Matters: The Chicago Economy. 3 Hours.

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to surviving in the Chicago economy. The five foundations of the First Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery and Transitions) are interwoven with the introductory field-specific concepts and terminology of economics. Students will be introduced to economic and financial literacy while learning what makes Chicago one of the greatest economic engines in the world. Students will examine the Chicago economy and collect data on major economic sectors in Chicago today with an eye on what it will take for workers, households and businesses to succeed in Chicago's future.

EDFN-109. First Year Experience: Schooling Chicago: Communities, Public Education And Change. 3 Hours.

This course analyzes education in and outside Chicago Public Schools as a key social institution that both influences and is influenced by the larger society. You will be introduced to a wide array of topics and case studies that elaborate on the embeddedness of classrooms and schools in social environments across Chicago. This course will span a variety of school processes such as curricular differentiation, social and economic reproduction, voluntary associations (extra-curricular clubs, parent organizations), social groupings and peer influence. Particular attention is paid to questions about the relationship between social stratification and education. For example, how is the structure, content and funding of schools across Illinois affected by wider social and political conflicts? Does educational attainment affect an individual's economic status? Does education promote social equality? This course will introduce students to use of new information technologies in k-12 education.

ELAD-109. First Year Experience:School's Out:Chicago's Bouquet Of Nontraditional Educational Programs. 3 Hours.

Chicago is renowned for its world class museums, music, theaters, gardens, zoos, and other attractions. From the Museum of Broadcasting to the Art Institute- all of these institutions have educational programs open to the citizens of Chicago. Explore then via internet, interviews, guest presenters and field trips. Open your mind to the diversity of learning and teaching opportunities available outside of school in our city. This course will enable you to: Gain an appreciation of many of these programs, Raise your awareness of the various fields of knowledge involved, Use findings to create written, oral and electronic presentations about these programs, Sharpen your research, writing and thinking skills, Probe your career opportunities, and Expand your horizons and creativity.

ELED-109. First Year Experience: Building Chicago One Teacher At A Time. 3 Hours.

In this course the five foundations (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery, and Transitions) of Northeastern's First-Year Experience program are taught alongside an introduction to content specific to the discipline of Teaching of Elementary Education. Introduction to Chicago schools, communities, and diverse student population as well as curricular models, school structures and best practices in teaching.

ENGL-109A. First Year Experience:Chicago's Literary Diversity: Reading The Neighborhoods. 3 Hours.

This course explores how literary Chicago enters into discourses on race and ethnicity in twentieth century literature. Beginning with Great Migration, students sample literary history produced by people who settled or passed through Chicago. Writers have used Chicago as a setting for major works and sociological studies have attempted to focus on Chicago's neighborhoods and how they were formed as a result of immigration from other countries and migration from the American South. The course examines several works from popular perspectives, fiction, autobiography, journalism, humor, folktales, cultural criticism and regional studies to reach a better understanding of the city.

ENGL-109B. First Year Experience: Reading And Writing The Literary And Political Landscapes Of Chicago. 3 Hours.

From the Haymarket "riot" of 1886 to the Pullman Strike of 1894 to the Black Sox scandal of 1919 to the trial of Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago Seven in the aftermath of the Democratic Convention of 1968, Chicago has, to say the least, a colorful and quite literally, explosive political history. As with any major urban center in the United States, Chicago bears the historical scars and contemporary fruits of vibrant and violent class conflict, labor insurgencies, racial strife, immigrant struggles, and activism for social justice. Part and parcel of this historical legacy is a rich spate of cultural production that attempts to comprehend this past in those historical moments and in our contemporary era.

ENGL-109C. First Year Experience:Drama And Diversity In Chicago. 3 Hours.

In this class, we will analyze and experience Chicago theater. By emphasizing theater that challenges social cultural norms, we will consider how drama works to create and define diverse urban communities and how it offers alternative visions to the status quo. This class will emphasize writing and reading about drama, interviewing theater personnel and taking notes on actual theater performances, and relating art to social and political diversity. We will attend 3-4 performances during the course of the semester.

ENGL-109D. First Year Experience:Windy City Words: Ethnolinguistic Chicago. 3 Hours.

This course integrates the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-Discovery, and Transitions) with concepts from the study of literacy and language. Using the city as a field site, students actively explore the linguistic and cultural diversity of Chicago through independent research, readings, online resources, speakers, and other experiences.

ENGL-109E. First Year Experience: Your Chicago: Write On!. 3 Hours.

This course interweaves foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery, Transitions) with specific concepts of creative writing. Explore and experience Chicago’s vibrant cultural scene while cultivating literary culture in class. Students study their local literary heritage reading, analyzing, and discussing works of classic and contemporary Chicago authors and attending and annotating literary readings at local bookstores and cafes; experimenting with a range of writing exercises, prompts, and assignments, students will craft their own stories, recognize their unique writing process, and learn techniques to revise and polish their prose, culminating in a student reading.

ESCI-109. First Year Experience:Chicago Rocks! Geology In The City. 3 Hours.

Chicago has been at the bottom of the sea, buried under a mile of ice, and set in a warm, tropical paradise. Such diverse changes have shaped Chicago and the surrounding region, including the lake, the rivers, the ground we walk on (and build on), and the decisions we make about land use, resources, and waste management. Explore Chicago Rocks - as well as water, weather, and land forms - in the context of current issues related to resource use and the environment. Field trips and hands-on experiences highlight the extent to which geology influences the character of the Chicago area.

ESCI-109W. First Year Experience: Chicago's Muddy Waters- Environmental Geology. 3 Hours.

Chicago's vital bodies of water - Lake Michigan, Chicago River, and others - interact with the urban landscape and the soils and rocks of the ground beneath. Such interactions influence environmental issues in everyday life, including "What happens when water goes down the drain?" and "Why do certain areas flood after it rains?" These questions are explored in the context of Chicago's geology, to evaluate the critical factors affecting soil and water contamination, flooding, and our drinking water. Laboratory analysis of water and soil, collected on local field trips, will clear the 'muddy water' about environmental geology impacts in local neighborhoods. (Lecture 2 hr., lab 2 hr.).

GES-109A. First Year Experience:Global Chicago. 3 Hours.

This is an introductory course in urban geography that provides a broad overview of the Chicago metropolitan area in the global context. We will explore the place of Chicago as a hub in the global economy, as well as the many different ways that global forces have impacted social relations and spatial practices in the metropolis.

GES-109B. First Year Experience: Chicago Geographies: Environmental Chicago. 3 Hours.

Students study the relationships between human settlement and the natural environments in the metropolitan area including environmental problems, their causes and possible solutions. Issues such as waste disposal and recycling, brownfields, suburban sprawl, air and water pollution, water supply, flooding and drainage, invasive species, and urban parks are investigated, with classroom discussion and field trips.

HIST-109. First Year Experience: History Of Chicago. 3 Hours.

Chicago is the most "American" of the major cities and has been at the forefront of change. In 50 years Chicago transformed from a fur-trading crossroads to a major industrial center, and that speed made it a city of stark contrasts. Enormous tensions emerged between the entrepreneurial forces that built the city and the countervailing social forces that strived to humanize it. A stream of immigrants played an integral role in shaping the city, contributing to economic and cultural development. Chicagoans faced huge challenges and as a result became pioneers of the economic, social, and political trends that shaped modern America.

JUST-109. First Year Experience: Justice In Chicago. 3 Hours.

Using Chicago as a lab, students will experience justice in many forms, from courthouse visits and artistic expressions, to discussions with attorneys, judges, and formerly incarcerated persons. In this course, the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery and Transitions) are interwoven with the introductory concepts and terminology of the criminal and social justice systems to provide first-year students with an opportunity to critically examine social injustices in institutions and social structures through a critical lens.

LING-109. First Year Experience:Language And Diversity In Chicago. 3 Hours.

Hands-on research, using Chicago's rich diversity of languages in contact as a laboratory, will enable you to understand the mechanisms, dynamics and manipulations of language and language use. Students will explore the following questions: What is language? What makes it universal? What makes it unique? How can it be used as a tool? How does it unite or divide? What is language contact and how does it affect you? What is the relationship between language and identity? What is language diversity and what brings it about? How does an awareness of language make you a stronger, more confident communicator?.

LLAS-109. FYE:Art, Thought, And Revolution In Chicago. 3 Hours.

An introduction to the cultural life of Chicago Latino youth with its regional differences with key themes/symbols and cultural norms created by the historical interaction between Latinos and American society as expressed in literature, art, music, and folklore. Attention will also be given to change and continuity in Latino cultural norms on the basis of historical events.
This class explores the history of art and its role in the civilizations from Modernism, the Mural Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. Using the rich artistic legacy of this area, the class examines the way art functions across borders and how borders have been constructed, debated and lived through in the art of the past.

MUS-109. First Year Experience:Chi-Tunes: Music In Chicago. 3 Hours.

In this course, the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery and Transitions) are interwoven with the field specific concepts and terminology of music. This course is designed to increase the first year student's awareness, understanding and enjoyment of a variety of musical styles through attending live performances. Students will learn the basics of reading and writing music, music history, and
music's place in society and culture through pre and post concert discussions.

PEMT-109. First Year Experience: Chicago Body Works. 3 Hours.

This course will give students a comprehensive and practical view of the importance of fitness and nutrition in their daily lives. Students will be engaged in activities that they can participate in for life. They will learn the underlying fundamentals of a fit for life attitude. Each student will be provided with the knowledge and understanding of how to assess their current level of fitness and how to make improvements in the five health-related fitness component areas (cardiovascular fitness, body composition, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance) through various physical and skill related activities. Also emphasized will be the importance and application of proper nutrition. A strong focus will be the multifaceted and diverse challenges faced by individuals committed to pursuing wellness in Chicago.

PEMT-109B. First Year Experience: Adventure In Chicago. 3 Hours.

This course is a hands-on experiential based approach to learning about and using cooperative learning, teams, challenge and adventure education, simulations and debriefing processes to create positive learning environments that promote engaged active learning. The course will focus on themes of self-knowledge, diversity, dealing with conflict, classroom dynamics, establishing effective learning environments, building peer and teacher-student trust and relationships that promote a “caring classroom”.

PSCI-109. First Year Experience:Civic Engagement, Community And Social Change In Chicago. 3 Hours.

This colloquium is a three-credit course that combines the traditional classroom setting and community service to explore the meaning and interconnection of community, citizenship, politics, diversity, civic engagement and social change. Students enrolled in this course spend time developing their interpersonal and intrapersonal skill (such as, self-awareness, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, leadership skills); become skilled at civic engagement (action strategies and plan, project management, communication, negotiation and teamwork); as well as reading academic literature that examines concepts of democracy, power and justice.

SOC-109A. First Year Experience: Investigating Chicago: Immigration & Migration. 3 Hours.

In this course, the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery and Transitions) are interwoven with the field-specific concepts and terminology of sociology. Using the city as a lab, freshmen explore Chicago's immigrants and immigration patterns, actively discovering the complexity and diversity of Chicago as an immigrant destination through readings, films, speakers, and out-of-class experiences.

SPAN-109. First Year Experience:Chicago's Latina/o Cultures. 3 Hours.

Freshmen explore Chicago's vibrant Latina/o culture as an integral part of the city's cultural landscape through short stories, poetry, films, speakers, and field trips to cultural venues or activities. In the course, the five foundations of the First-Year Experience (Future Planning, Integral Preparation, Research, Self-discovery, and Transitions) are interwoven with concepts and
terminology specific to cultural and literary studies. Taught in Spanish and English. Prerequisite: Score of 384 or above in the Spanish placement exam (available online at

TESL-109A. First Year Experience: Chicago Speaks: Helping Immigrants Communicate. 3 Hours.

In this course, the four foundations (Future Planning, Academics, Self-Discovery and Transitions) of the First-Year Experience are interwoven with the field specific concepts and terminology of teaching English as a second language (TESL). This course introduces the structure of the English language and methods of teaching it to speakers of other languages. This involves investigating the pronunciation and grammar of English as well as looking at ways to teach these subjects along with listening, speaking, reading and writing skills to English Language Learners (ELLs). The course will involve a service learning component in which students will tutor ELLs in various sites throughout Chicagoland. As students study the basics of teaching English as a second language, they will develop academic skills that will contribute to their success in college and beyond.