Class Guidelines

Concourse First-Year Class Guidelines for Fall 2023/Spring 2024

All Concourse students should

  1. register for a Concourse Humanities CI-H or CI-HW subject (CC.110 or CC.115) and at least one Concourse math or science GIR: CC.801, CC.8012, CC.18.02, 18.01 (with CC recitation) and/or CC.5111.
  2. pass the Concourse advising seminar (CC.010), which is 12-2 pm on Fridays. Each week has a short reading assignment and pre-seminar response due on Thursday evening. Your grade will depend on both attendance/participation and your responses. You must contact a TA to inform them ahead of time of any excused absences.
  3. complete the Civil Discourse and Community Engagement component of the Concourse advising seminar, described below.


Civil Discourse and Community Engagement

As part of your expected participation in the Concourse advising seminar, we want our students to engage with the Concourse and the broader MIT community. Students are required to attend Concourse community events during the Fall semester and report back to the community about what they learned/experienced.

Within a few days of each event, you should fill out a short form providing information and a brief reflection on the experience (

Each student must attend at least one Concourse community event, as well as the two Civil Discourse lectures that are part of your Concourse seminar work.

Concourse Community Events happen year-round and are open to all Concourse students, from first years to seniors. Past opportunities have included discussion groups on current events and economics, monthly remedial movie nights, countless cooking and baking events, theater and museum outings, science outreach projects, game nights, local hikes, city walks, and opportunities to use a printing press, to name a few. Concourse events are opportunities to take a break from schoolwork, strengthen connections, and explore and reflect as a community.

Civil Discourse Lectures are connected to the civil discourse initiative Concourse is co-sponsoring with the Philosophy Department. Each semester there will be two major speaker events, accompanied by smaller debates and round table discussions. Students must attend both of these lectures to satisfy their Exploration and Community Engagement requirement. The dates of these lectures are below.

Fall Schedule of Speaker Events:

  • Tuesday, October 24 – Steven Koonin and MIT Professor Kerry Emmanuel
  • Thursday, November 9 – Mary Harrington and our own MIT Professor Anne McCants

Reflection questions

Questions to consider as and after you attend a civil discourse or community event:

  • What did you expect going into this event? How does that compare to what you experienced?
  • What new questions do you have?
  • If the event was in a discipline related to one of your classes, how did the content or approach differ from or reinforce what you are learning in class?
  • Was the event inspiring? depressing? confusing? What made it so?
  • What is something about the experience that was meaningful for you?
  • Are you hoping to attend more seminars, performances, etc. in this field? Why or why not?


Guidelines for a meaningful experience at MIT or off-campus events

There are a few guidelines you can follow to get the most from a seminar or performance. Most importantly, you should do a little research before the event. This could simply mean looking at a lab website or Wikipedia page for a speaker. For an art exhibit, you could a read an article or information from the museum or curator website. Having a little context as you go into a lecture or performance can have a huge impact on what you get out of the experience.

Some people find it useful to have a notebook dedicated to seminars and lectures. During a seminar, you may find it helpful to jot down notes and questions. Many speakers particularly appreciate questions from students, and we encourage you to participate in question-answer sessions. In some disciplines, it is common to preface your question by first thanking the speaker for their talk. Feel free to spread this practice to other disciplines by your example!

For any event, on or off campus, we trust you will be outstanding representatives of Concourse. This includes being respectful by arriving on time and by keeping your phones silent and out of sight. If you are taking notes on a laptop or tablet, please make sure that email and all other applications are always closed.  We also encourage you to experience the different mental process of taking notes longhand if you have rarely done it!