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: “to help students make a meaningful transition to collegiate life at Notre Dame by integrating their academic, co-curricular, and residential experiences.” 

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

The themes featured throughout the course are based on the Five Pillars of a Holy Cross Education, which are tenets gathered from Father Moreau’s writings. They are: mind, heart, zeal, family, and hope. 

#2: Moreau Orients and Educates

Moreau (the course sequence, not the founder) is organized around themes that orient students to the Notre Dame experience. A major focus of the course is community and content spanning both semesters includes: orientation to University life, health and wellbeing, community standards, cultural competence, civil discourse, academic success, spiritual life, and discernment, among other topics.

One of Moreau’s goals is to help students think about their education as holistic personal development as well as intellectual development. So academic, extracurricular, and residential experiences are given equal treatment. Often, students visit campus units that are thematically tied to the course, receiving a physical introduction to the places that will support their development. These include Campus Ministry, McDonald Center for Student Well-Being, the Center for Career Development, the Snite Museum of Art, and others.


A recent Moreau class visit to The Snite Museum of Art.


#3: The Flipped Classroom Model Means No Lectures

Class sessions follow a “flipped” classroom structure. This means students complete coursework outside of class, but class sessions are interactive and discussion-based. Teachers guide students through discussion and activities but don’t lecture. Learning is student-centered, and with a max of 19 students per class, everyone has the opportunity to contribute and interact.

Coursework is varied. Students are encouraged to reflect on their learning, connecting experiences inside and outside of the classroom, and across classes.

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

The “first year experience” portion of Moreau kicks off with Welcome Week, 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, 145 instructors are responsible for 128 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.

#5: Moreau Provides a Foundation

Spend enough time on the Notre Dame campus and you’re sure to hear this quote from Father Moreau’s letters: “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. While we prepare useful citizens for society, we shall likewise do our utmost to prepare citizens for heaven.”

The philosophy of the Moreau First Year Experience supports this pairing of mind and heart. With its curriculum evenly rooted in academics and residential 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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