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Student-Led Seminars

  • The Student-Led Seminars program provides funds for students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, to design and lead their own non-credit seminars. The student leader selects the other student participants, produces the course syllabus, leads discussions, critiques written work, and helps select a guest speaker.
  • The program enables participants not only to model intellectual adventurousness and leadership for their peers, but also to take charge of their own education by devising and developing collaborative projects that may launch them into graduate school or their profession. 
  • The Center for the Humanities typically hopes to sponsor one student-led seminar each semester.

I. Eligibility

All full-time undergraduate students are eligible to participate. There is no minimum GPA for a seminar leader, although the Steering Committee considers a history of academic achievement to be a strong qualification for such leadership.  

II. The Application Process

A. Students are invited each semester to propose (individually or with a partner from a different major) a subject they would like to explore with a group of six to eight participants.

  • Each semester the director of the Center for the Humanities holds a general information session for students, usually during the third week of classes. The director may hold a follow-up session after talking with students.
  • Students contact the Student Grants Coordinator, Dr. Brett Butler,, with an idea or topic that they would like to pursue.
  • If the student has not already enlisted a faculty adviser, the Grants Coordinator helps the student leader(s) assemble a list of faculty who might serve as advisers and a roster of likely student recruits.

B. The seminar organizer(s) recruit(s) a faculty advisor who helps develop a proposal and syllabus. The syllabus need not be finished for the proposal, but the organizers should at least have prepared a reading list. The student leaders should also include the topic of the first session. The faculty advisor must write a brief letter of support for the proposed seminar, acknowledging her/his participation and outlining its educational value.

C. The proposal should give the seminar’s title and theme, outline its learning goals, provide a budget, and furnish a tentative list of texts and materials. Maximum: 1,000 words. The completed proposal is submitted to the Center’s Steering Committee for approval by the last working day of October, for seminars the following spring, or by the last working day of February, for seminars the following fall.

D. Once the Steering Committee approves a proposal, the Center issues a call for applicants, with the aim of selecting an intellectually diverse group of participants.

  • Student leaders should recruit other students, though faculty may suggest potential participants. The CFH director may also contact students who might be interested. The Center strongly encourages cross-disciplinary involvement. Hence, the students selected may not all be majors in a single field, and student leaders are strongly encouraged to recruit students from the School of Education and the Sellinger School as well as from the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Once the list of participants for a seminar is complete, the students’ names are submitted to the Steering Committee for review and approval. Ordinarily, the list of participants should be submitted by the end of the month following approval (that is, November or March) and should include each student's major(s) and class year.

III. The Faculty Advisor 

  • Helps to draft the proposal and design. The bulk of this work occurs during the proposal process. 
  • Writes a letter of support and participation to be included in the proposal.
  • Assists in generating and organizing the syllabus, reading list and meeting times.
  • Attends one meeting of the seminar. 
  • May suggest guest speakers and attends the final dinner.
  • Receives a stipend of $500.  

IV. Budget

  • Each seminar participant is reimbursed up to $150 to purchase texts and materials. These funds may be used only for these materials. 
  • Each seminar is allotted up to $750 for a speaker’s honorarium, and up to another $750 for lodging (no more than one night) and travel for the speaker. Alternately, the seminar may use the same amount for a class trip; those costs must be listed in the proposal’s budget. 
  • The seminar may purchase food for each session; these purchases should be amount to no more than $150 total; another $30 for each participant may be set aside for reimbursement of a closing dinner. 
  • A maximum of $3,500 is allowed for each seminar, not including the faculty stipend.

V. Seminar Meetings

Each seminar should meet frequently enough to sustain momentum, but not so often that its meetings interfere with students’ regular course work. Ordinarily, seminars should meet no fewer than six and no more than eight times in a semester; these meetings should be at least one hour each. 

VI. Post-seminar Evaluation

  • After the seminar concludes, each student participant writes an evaluation of the seminar, of his/her own work, and of the program. Students may also be asked to speak in a video recording about the seminar. The evaluation should include an assessment of what the seminar contributed to each student’s education at Loyola and for the longer term. 
  • The student leader reads these evaluations and writes a summary of how well the seminar achieved the goals set out in the proposal. The deadline for receipt of the final report is one month after the seminar concludes. 

VII. Deadline

The deadline for receipt of proposals is the last working day of February, for fall seminars, and the last working day of October, for spring seminars. 

For inquiries and support, please contact the Student Grants coordinator, Dr. Brett Butler,, or the CFH program assistant, Bess Garrett ( with any questions.

VIII. Seminars approved so far:

A link to the student's name  takes you to a short video discussing his/her experiences and a link to the seminar title takes you to samples of successful proposals.

Jeremy Ahearn and Grace Murry, both from the class of 2023, created and led a seminar in spring of 2023 on “Defiance: Voices of the Global South.” Their faculty advisor was Dr. Joshua Hendrick, Sociology

Christina Guerra, class of 2023, created and led a seminar in Fall of 2022 entitled “Soldiers of the Revolution: The Art of the Mexican Renaissance from 1900-1950.” Her faculty advisor was Dr. Barnaby Nygren, Visual and Performing Arts.

Camryn Williams, class of 2022, and Amber Davis, class of 2022, created and led a seminar in Spring 2022 on "The Black Morality Gap and Critical Race Theory." Their faculty advisor was Dr. Christopher Turner, Sociology.

Katelyn Alam, class of 2023, created and led a seminar in spring of 2021 on "American Thievery: How America Stole Everything from the Land to the Identities of Native Americans." Her faculty advisor was Dr. Claire Mathews McGinnis, Theology.

Em Brauchler, class of 2022, created and led a seminar spring 2021 on "Coming of Age in Queer America." Her faculty advisor was Dr. Melissa Girard, English.

Thomas Mortimer, class of 2023, created and led a seminar fall 2020 on "In Search of Meaning: The Vietnam War." His faculty advisor was Dr. Joseph Walsh, Classics.

Samantha Kennedy, class of 2020, created and led a seminar spring 2019 on "The Power of the Poem: An Examination of Slam Poetry in Building Communities of Power." Her faculty advisor was Dr. Jon Malis, Fine Arts.

Samantha Scott, class of 2018, created and led a seminar spring 2018 on "Shame of a Nation: Opium Derivatives and Detox in Modern China." Her faculty advisor was Dr. Chad Diehl, History

Grady Riley, class of 2018, created and led a seminar fall 2017 on "Angels, Demons, and the After Life." His faculty advisor was Dr. Frederick Bauerschmidt, Theology.

Lydia Pritchard, class of 2018, created and led a seminar fall 2017 on "Don't Bury the Lede: Images Shaping a Story." Her faculty advisor was Dr. Jon Malis, Fine Arts and Photography