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The FOCUS Program is a voluntary, interdisciplinary academic curriculum for freshmen that was first established at Duke University. It received national acclaim and a similar program has since spread to Washington University in St. Louis. FOCUS is an acronym that stands for "First-year Opportunity for Comprehensive, Unified Study."

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Program at Duke University

Duke students who register for FOCUS will be registered in two seminars chosen from a set of four classes offered for their 'cluster,' along with a half-credit discussion course that takes place over a meal with their professors and guest speakers. FOCUS allows students to take part in small classes and those in the same cluster for the fall semester also live in the same dormitory on East Campus.

Current programs for the 2009-2010 academic year at Duke include the following topics:

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Fall

  • Between Europe & Asia: Explorations in Culture, Law & Cognitive Science
  • Engineering Frontiers: Living Systems for a Living Planet
  • Evolution & Humankind
  • Exploring the Mind
  • The Faces of Science
  • The Genome Revolution & Its Impact on Society
  • Modeling Economic & Social Systems
  • The Power of Ideas
  • Virtual Realities: Digital Media, Imagined Worlds, and Immersive 3D Environments
  • Visions of Freedom

Spring

  • Entrepreneurial Challenges
  • Muslim Cultures: The Middle East & Beyond

Program at Washington University in St. Louis

At Washington University, however, the FOCUS program consists only of one year-long seminar course. It, too, is designed to encourage a close intellectual relationship between students and the professor, as well as amongst students who have a similar interest in the particular topic.

Current programs at Washington University include the following topics:

  • Global Culture & the Individual: Intercultural Skills for the 21st Century
  • Cuba: From Colonialism to Communism
  • Law and Society
  • Nationalism and Identity: The Making of Modern Europe
  • The Theatre as a Living Art
  • Writers as Readers
  • Cooperative Living, Community Building, and Sustainability
  • Cultural Contact in the Medieval World

External links


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