VISTAS Seminar Guidelines

The emphasis in VISTAS seminars is peer-led discussion groups.

The following VISTAS Guidelines are designed to assist seminar leaders in the development of seminars. VISTAS encourages creative approaches to achieving the goals of the seminars and these guidelines are offered to aid in the development process. Members of the Curriculum Committee, many of whom have been seminar leaders, stand ready to support seminar leaders in development and implementation.

Instructor's Handbook


VISTAS Seminar Topics

Topics should be of wide enough interest to attract participants, but sufficiently defined so that they fit into a session that usually lasts up to a maximum of six weeks. The ideal topic is non-political and multidisciplinary to capitalize on varied interests and perspectives of participants. A text is desirable, as is some reprint literature, sufficient and appropriate to assure independent study by each participant. Readings should be balanced and not lengthy enough to be ignored. For example, 100-page internet downloads are not encouraged.

How to Offer a Seminar

Anyone interested in leading a seminar completes a proposal form that helps outline and organize the seminar of study. The Curriculum Committee will review the proposal and a member of the committee will be assigned as a liaison with the seminar leader to facilitate communication with VISTAS. The liaison's role can include routine matters such as scheduling, venue, duplication, etc. The liaison may also serve as counselor and consult with the seminar leader in developing the seminar. The final step is the preparation of the seminar outline or syllabus. Seminar development can take varying amounts of time. Allowing ample time to thoroughly prepare for the seminar before scheduling is essential.

Seminar Outlines

A seminar outline is a road map with a list of assignments, texts, the order of required readings, a calendar of in-class events. It is also helpful to include study suggestions that focus the group on the scope and nature of the seminar. The most effective study suggestions are brief, clear, simply written and focus on the issues, themes and aims of the seminar. Effective study suggestions may be in the form of questions that challenge the members of the study group.

Prior to the first session, the leader may also ask for participants to volunteer to make a short presentation on a subtopic to be covered during the seminar, or to actively participate in some other way.

Curriculum Committee

The decision to schedule a VISTAS seminar is the responsibility of the Curriculum Committee. It maintains communications with potential seminar leaders and encourages and assists in the preparation of the seminars. It is also responsible for assuring that seminars do not present a biased political or sectarian agenda, rather, that each seminar represents a broad spectrum of intellectual views and alternative perspectives.


Click here for Seminar Proposal Form PDF

Email Lynn at for a Word version of the Seminar Proposal Form



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