Westminster Seminar: The Leader Within


Westminster Seminar is an old familiar friend to many alums, with course topics ranging from “The Psychology of Superheroes” to “The Middle Ages in Popular Culture.” The freshman college success program became even more freshman-friendly for the Fall 2018 Academic Year with a new title and additions made to the program’s one-credit course, LST 101: The Leader Within.

Now called the First Year Experience, changes to the curriculum make the program more fresh, alive, and applicable to students’ academic and personal goals. The three-credit Westminster Seminar course remains essentially the same and continues to focus on funky topics, such as “The Politics of Song,” while interweaving talks on college-level study skills and personal and professional goal setting. But today Westminster Seminar focuses more on advising students. Topics also fit together more closely with the Student Life topics discussed in the one-credit course, LST 101: The Leader Within. “We restructured the program to make sure the students’ first year is a success, but also so they remain successful throughout the years at Westminster and beyond,” says First Year Experience Director Dr. Kali Wright-Smith.

With those goals in mind, LST 101 was restructured for the Fall 2018 semester to foster an even more well-balanced student body. Residential Life Director and Adjunct Instructor James Arnold also taught LST 101 last fall. He explains that the LST curriculum now is designed to match perfectly with the overall mission of the College, which focuses on educating the whole student. Topics covered in class include service to others, healthy relationships, campus safety, bystander intervention, goal-setting, learning strategies, study habits, and the history of Westminster. “We help prepare our students for the challenging years ahead,” Arnold says. “This class is the old-school College Success class on steroids.”

Arnold explains that all recent changes to the program took place after he and Wright-Smith dug into Westminster Seminar surveys from the last few years and developed the curriculum so that all pieces fit strategically with New Student Week programming, Westminster Seminar curriculum, and resident advisor programming. “That was the biggest change for this school year, and I think it has proven to be a positive,” he says.

Arnold also serves as Associate Director of Athletics and Head Women’s Basketball Coach. He explains that his Student Life role on campus as well as his coaching background help in teaching LST 101. “All good coaches at their core are teachers, so I attack teaching the same way I do practices or games,” Arnold says.

Wright-Smith teaches Political Science and is Director of the Model United Nations Program. As a 2004 Westminster graduate, she is a resident expert on the skills students will need to achieve success after graduation. “We really are shifting the focus to leadership and the academic experience,” she explains. “We truly want the students to be thinking about what they will be doing after they graduate from here.”

For more information about Westminster Seminar, please contact Wright-Smith at (573) 592-5348 or Kali.Wright-Smith@westminster-mo.edu.

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