First Lecture Series


The First Lecture Series, a partnership between the Center for University Advising and colleges and schools at Notre Dame, invites first-year students to engage with the scholarly life of our distinct university community, integrating intellectual passion and a keenly developed moral responsibility.

Each Welcome Weekend, Notre Dame faculty join you in your first moments on campus to thoughtfully consider a response to two fundamental questions of a life well-lived. While offering a glimpse into their own journeys, these expert scholars will also challenge you to begin to form your own unique response to these questions:

What matters?

What should we do about it?


This Welcome Weekend, engage with your faculty members as they give witness to a passion for discovery, beauty, innovation, justice, and the possibilities of human achievement. In turn, ignite a search for your own answers - a search that might inform your entire undergraduate educational experience.

The Center for University Advising is currently receiving nominations for the Welcome Weekend Fall 2022 iteration of the First Lecture Series.

View the First Lecture Series from Fall 2021


  • Accounting for "Success"

    • Lecturer: Zach Kowaleski
    • Mendoza College of Business

    In this First Lecture, we will discuss what it means to be "successful" at Notre Dame. Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery after experiencing this inspiring lecture.

  • Become the Architect of Your Own Future: Tips for Designing for Your Academic Career, Professional Interests, and Life in General

    • Lecturer: Marianne Cusato
    • School of Architecture

    This First Lecture will feature a welcome from Dean Polyzoides and a lecture by Professor Cusato.

  • Connecting the World: Communications and the Internet of Things

    • Lecturer: Robert L. Stevenson
    • College of Engineering

    This First Lecture will cover some of the many cutting-edge developments in communication systems and networks, and lead to a discussion of some of the issues and challenges that come with these technologies.

  • Developing Great Research and Study Habits in Science

    • Lecturer: Mary Ann McDowell
    • College of Science

    Mary Ann McDowell, Professor of Biology and Interim Associate Dean for Research, will share a First Lecture that connected research, learning, and the undergraduate experience at Notre Dame.

  • Everything You Wanted to Know About the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict But Were Afraid to Ask

    • Lecturer: Atalia Omer
    • Keough School of Global Affairs

    What's in the name? Is it a nationalist conflict? An occupation? An apartheid? A settler colonial state? This is where such questions are allowed to be asked as we introduce the most cutting edge research.

  • Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic with Chemical Engineering Intuition

    • Lecturer: Matthew J. Webber Mark J. McCready
    • College of Engineering

    This talk will outline various details how the unique training and intuition that comes with a chemical engineering education placed us in a central role in responding to the global COVID-19 crisis, including some personal recollections.

  • Finance Opportunities

    • Lecturer: Robert Battalio
    • Mendoza College of Business

    Join Robert Battalio, Professor and the William and Cassie Daley Department Chair for Finance, in this First Lecture as he explores the opportunities and significance of finance at Notre Dame and beyond

  • Happiness in Academic Life

    • Lecturer: Clemens Sedmak
    • Keough School of Global Affairs

    Clemens Sedmak, Professor of Social Ethics and Director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, will offer a First Lecture on defining, finding, and enjoying happiness in the academic journey.

  • How AI is Changing Marketing

    • Lecturer: Christian Hughes Yixing Chen
    • Mendoza College of Business

    Join Christian Hughes and Yixing Chen, Assistant Professors of Marketing to explore how artificial intelligence is changing marketing

  • Leading Change in a Changing World

    • Lecturer: Christopher Stevens
    • Mendoza College of Business

    Join Christopher Stevens, Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Management & Organization to discuss leadership and your Notre Dame journey

  • Making Sense of *gestures wildly* All of This: Studying American Politics in a Time of Crisis

    • Lecturer: Christina Wolbrecht
    • College of Arts and Letters

    Join Christina Wolbrecht, Professor within the Department of Political Science, in making sense of it all.

  • Mindsets, Skills, and Habits for a More Joyful and Purposeful First Year of College

    • Lecturer: Steve Reifenberg
    • Keough School of Global Affairs

    How can we explore pathways to promote happiness and a sense of purpose in our own lives, and also to accompany others well?

  • My Path to Becoming an Engineer

    • Lecturer: Diogo Bolster
    • College of Engineering

    This First Lecture will share common experiences and help students identify some of the professional and personal challenges that they might face, as well as the rewarding opportunities that will come their way as undergraduates and after.

  • Navigating University Life and How to Make the Most of the Next Four Years

    • Lecturer: Philippe Collon
    • College of Science

    Philippe Collon, Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physics, will offer a First Lecture on the transition to Notre Dame and the preciousness of this undergraduate opportunity.

  • Our Paths Towards Faculty Careers in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) and Perspectives on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in STEM and CSE

    • Lecturer: Ron Metoyer Tijana Milenkovic
    • College of Engineering

    Professors Metoyer and Milenkovic will share their career paths and inspirational stories of how they became CSE faculty and discuss perspectives on EDI in STEM and CSE

  • Performance, Politics, and Modern China; Or, How to Tell Your Parent(s) that You're Majoring in the Arts

    • Lecturer: Tarryn Li-Min Chun
    • College of Arts and Letters

    Join Tarryn Li-Min Chun, Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre on the convergence of performance and politics and the significance of the the arts

  • Question Everything: Paradoxes, Surprises and Counterintuitive Truths

    • Lecturer: David Galvin
    • College of Science

    In this First Lecture, we'll explore some counterintuitive facts and their consequences. By the end, you should see that it is a wise strategy to take nothing for granted and to question everything...

  • Representation Matters: How I Became an Expert on Race, Justice, and Popular Culture

    • Lecturer: Jason Ruiz
    • College of Arts and Letters

    Join Jason Ruiz, Chair and Associate Professor within the Department of American Studies, in a First Lecture on race, justice, and popular culture

  • Set Yourself Up to Change the World for the Better Through Technology, Data, and Business

    • Lecturer: Nicholas Berente
    • Mendoza College of Business

    This First Lecture will provide some thoughts about how you might use your time at Notre Dame to position yourself to make a positive impact. Hint: Professor Berente's approach will involve business, data, and technology!

  • Solving Problems that Matter: Notre Dame as An Entrepreneurial Journey

    • Lecturer: Michael H. Morris Melissa Paulsen
    • Keough School of Global Affairs

    Professor Morris and Paulsen will share stories and concepts that help students discover what it means to be a change agent and difference-maker.

  • The Ordinary Business of Life: How I Came to be an Economist

    • Lecturer: Eric Sims
    • College of Arts and Letters

    Join Eric Sims, Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, as he shares how the study of economics has shaped his journey.

  • Truth, 'Truthiness,' and Total Nonsense: Plato's Advice to New Students for Asking Better Questions, Having Better Arguments, and Figuring Out the Good Life

    • Lecturer: Meghan Sullivan
    • College of Arts and Letters

    In this session, we'll use the widely loved God and the Good Life class format to reflect on what it means to be a person who cares about the truth.

  • Want to Earn Better Grades and Retain Your Learning While Also Having More Free Time?

    • Lecturer: Mike Seelinger
    • College of Engineering

    Earn better grades and learn more effectively while spending less time studying than with your present approach to your classwork.” Sound too good to be true?

  • You've Made it to College... Now What? Navigating Academic Rigor and Staying Whole in the Process

    • Lecturer: Nancy Michael
    • College of Science

    Nancy Michael, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Neuroscience & Behavior Major, will offer a First Lecture that seeks to equip students to thrive during their first year at Notre Dame.