Directed Studies, a selective program for freshmen, is an interdisciplinary study of Western civilization. One hundred twenty-five students are accepted each year.
All students enrolled in Directed Studies take three yearlong courses—literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought—in which they read the central texts of the Western tradition. The fall term introduces students to the principal works of classical antiquity and to the Judeo-Christian tradition. The fall term ends with the Middle Ages. The spring term begins with the Renaissance and ends with the twentieth century.
Each course meets weekly for one lecture and two seminars; seminars have eighteen students and one faculty member. The regular lectures and seminars are complemented by a series of colloquia. Distinguished members of the faculty are invited to speak on major issues arising from the work in the program, on related disciplines not included in the program, and on the relationship between Western civilization and the non-Western world. Colloquium topics in recent years have included poetry and translation, the origin of consciousness in Greek art, Christians, Muslims, and Jews in medieval Spain, and Western
views of China.
Directed Studies fulfills the following distributional requirements: two course credits in the humanities and arts, two course credits in the social sciences, and two course credits in writing. The program serves as a strong foundation for all majors in Yale College, including those in the sciences.