5 Fast Facts About the Moreau First Year Experience

Author: Shannon Rooney



Every first-year student at Notre Dame participates in a one-credit, two-semester course sequence called the Moreau First Year Experience. It’s a course sequence with a lofty name and lofty goals: “foster[ing] your personal development by asking central human questions and discussing important contemporary topics that lead to having meaningful conversations that matter.” 

What, exactly, does that mean in practice? We’ll break it down for you. 

#1: It Starts with Father Moreau

“Moreau,” as it is referred to on campus, is named for and inspired by the vision of Blessed Basil Moreau, professor, priest, and founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. This is the religious congregation that founded Notre Dame

Moreau encourages students to "continuously recognize, re-encounter, and re-respond to the invitation of personal development throughout [their] distinct Catholic, liberal arts undergraduate educational experience and the rest of [their lives]."

#2: Moreau Educates and Orients

Moreau (the course sequence, not the founder) invites students to engage through four course objectives.

Through the course, you are invited to:

  • Deepen your self-knowledge
  • Define your beliefs and values
  • Discern possible ways of living
  • Develop and pursue a vision of a life well-lived 

In addition, the course partners with Conversation Hosts in settings across campus who integrate a weekly Moreau topic, focus question, and required pre-class content with their own expertise and mission to inspire conversation between and among students.

#3: You're Encouraged to Think Independently

Class sessions follow a “flipped” classroom structure. This means students complete coursework outside of class, but class sessions are interactive and discussion-based.

Each week, students are required to thoughtfully and critically reflect on course materials, which are common to all sections and offer context and diverse perspectives on weekly focus questions. These questions are relevant to national discourse on higher education, justice, equity, human flourishing, and virtuous living. 

#4: You’ll Find Your Place in the Notre Dame Family

The “first year experience” portion of Moreau kicks off with Welcome Weekend, when first-year students move into their residence halls. Sessions orient students to campus and introduce them to their community: fellow students, rectors, residence hall assistants, faculty, and staff members from student services across the University. 

When classes begin, students attend their Moreau classes with other first-year students in their residence hall “neighborhoods.” So, if you live on South Quad, you’ll get to know other students who live there too. 

Students expand their Notre Dame network through their Moreau instructors too. To accommodate the 2,000 or so first-year students taking Moreau courses, 121 instructors are responsible for 118 course sections. They represent more than 50 units across the University, meaning their primary positions with the University take place in many different offices, from the Enrollment Division to the Department of Psychology. Some instructors are executive University leaders, including vice presidents and associate vice presidents.

#5: Moreau Provides a Foundation

In his book titled Christian Education, Father Moreau wrote of education as "a work of resurrection." The philosophy of the Moreau First Year Experience supports this expansive view of education, which calls students to not only broaden their thinking or to think differently, but also to live differently. With its curriculum rooted in academics and residential and community life, first-year students gain a comprehensive introduction to their Notre Dame education, helping to lay a foundation for the years that follow. 


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