Learning for the sake of learning

The Fiat Lux Freshman Seminar Program is an integral part of undergraduate education at UCLA. The seminars are a short-term, low-stakes way for undergraduate students to explore and engage in academic discourse on a myriad of topics in small groups led by faculty, administrators, and even the Chancellor. Seminars are one unit and graded pass/no pass.

Thanks to Chancellor’s Greatest Needs, UCLA was able to quickly launch the Fiat Lux Freshman Seminar Program just weeks after the events of September 11th.  The Fiat Lux seminars were founded as a place for students to process the trauma of the events through discussion and dialogue in a small class (no more than 20 students) and ladder faculty. 

Since its inception in 2001, over 20,000 UCLA undergraduate alumni have taken Fiat Lux seminars offered by more than 350 faculty members from all areas of The College of Letters and Science and UCLA's 11 professional schools. 

The Fiat Lux program celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011. Alumni and faculty discussion leaders spoke candidly about their experience in this video.

Fiat Lux alumni are passionate about their experience

I took a course on Dystopian Societies. Certainly one of the most memorable of my college career. Gave me a chance to have real discussion and see college as a place where dialogue and varying opinions were enlightening.

--Haley Boyan '08, M.Ed ‘11

I enrolled in “Web 2.0 – The Cultures and Technologies of the Programmable Web” with Todd Presner.

My key takeaway was learning how valuable this new era of web technology is and how it can significantly impact events in the world. Being able to talk critically about how Twitter shaped the world’s perception of the Iranian Revolution by enabling suppressed people to pass along real-time information and images to the outside world was really striking to me. This current event compelled me to stay current with the evolution of the Internet as well as constantly changing web applications because these technologies can improve our lives.

--Will Sholan ’13

I took three Fiat Lux seminars. Urban Planning 19 probably had the greatest impact on what I went on to study at UCLA and my prospective career goals. 

Entering the seminar, I always knew I was interested in the composition of cities and what made them unique but I didn't quite understand all the factors that come into play when planning a city. It was refreshing to be able to read one book and then be able to discuss it for 30-45 minutes each week, and see different examples of planning concepts in the real world.

The class was basically a bunch of freshmen talking about their home cities and the different types of planning they observed while growing up. It was a nice gateway class that got me interested in taking further urban planning classes.

--Irving Pham ’10

As a freshman, one of the things I loved about UCLA was the HUGE variety of course topics. I didn't know classes could be so specific. I got so excited during orientation that I enrolled in 5 Fiat Lux seminars in addition to my 3 normal classes.

I LOVE the Fiat Lux program because on top of expanding course variety, it allows people with similar interests to come together, much like a club or organization. Class discussions are great because every single student present is actually interested in the topic. No one is forced to be there and class is only 1 hour per week.
These classes also inspired me to attend various guest talks, presentations, and documentary screenings. It started as a requirement for some of the classes, but I began going to them on my own after freshman year.The Fiat Lux program definitely contributed to my amazement.
--Chris Santiago ’11, future high school social studies teacher

I thought the Fiat Lux courses were pretty amazing and flexible. I found many interesting but for some reason, settled for one on gun violence, media, post-Virginia Tech. I honestly can't remember my intentions for attending that, but it was a psychology seminar. It was essentially an experimental choice, with no real agenda, no grade, no goals - just pure learning and curiosity.

--Malina Tea Tran ’11, planning associate for the Downtown Brooklyn Business Improvement District

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