Semester In

Organizing a Semester In

Courses / Prerequisites / Requirements

Semester In is presented as one seamless unit, but for grading purposes credits are divided into two or three simultaneous courses offered as a full 15 credit version with all three courses, or a shorter 10 credit version, DIAL 393W and DIAL 394.

Credits for the three courses are applied towards Departmental/Faculty major or minor requirements, but could also be used for breadth requirements for students outside the offering Department or Faculty. Departments/Faculties might also decide to approve their Semester In as meeting requirements towards an Honours degree.

Generally two or three faculty teach full-time each semester, the equivalent of 7.5 credits or roughly two typical SFU courses per faculty for the 15 credit model. Faculty may be seconded from SFU departments through teaching buyouts, or come from the community and be paid a stipend.

Semester In (Dialogue Component) DIAL 393W (5): The Dialogue component of the Semester In will immerse students in the art and practice of thinking and communicating. The focus will be on strategies and methods to use in understanding diverse perspectives. Students will have an opportunity to expand their verbal and written communication skills as well as explore dialogue-archive through invited guests and internal discussions. Prerequisite: 45 units or permission of instructor. Must be taken simultaneously with DIAL 394.

Semester In (Seminar Component) DIAL 394 (5): Topics covered each term will vary, but generally each course will examine a subject that encourages broad approaches and probes provocative issues. Learning will be active rather than passive, stimulating students to research, explore and discuss. Prerequisite: 45 units or permission of instructor. Must be taken simultaneously with DIAL 393W.

Semester In (Final Project Component) DIAL 395 (5): Students will develop a class-wide final project, including conception, design, implementation and a final report. As well, each student will present a final individual project, to be designed with faculty. Prerequisite: 45 units or permission of instructor. Must be taken simultaneously with DIAL 393W and DIAL 394.

Restrictions: Departments/Faculties would decide whether their Semester In would be open to students across the university, or limited to students enrolled in the offering Department or Faculty.

Students can only enroll in one Semester In or Semester in Dialogue program.

Semester In would not be eligible for credit towards a Dialogue Minor, unless pre-approved by the School of Communications, which offers the Dialogue Minor.

A Semester In would normally be offered no more than twice under DIAL numbers. We would expect Departments/Faculties to apply to Senate to create their own course numbers at that point.

Enrollment should be capped at 20 students.

Role of Semester in Dialogue

Departments/Faculties interested in utilizing the Semester In course numbers should contact the Semester in Dialogue at We provide advice and feedback to faculty in developing their course outline and during their Semester In. Faculty designated to teach in an upcoming Semester In would be encouraged to sit in on several Semester in Dialogue classes to become more familiar with this type of instruction.

In addition, we have an expanding group of current and former Semester in Dialogue and Semester In faculty who meet regularly as a community of practice to learn from each other’s experiences. Potential Semester In faculty would be encouraged to join this community of practice.

We also have considerable logistical experience in the nuts and bolts of offering semester-long, full-time, cohort-based courses, including advising on the application/admissions process, advertising and promotion through social media platforms, SFU internal communications, physical mail outs, posters and our alumni newsletter, registration issues, putting on student-organized events, and many other aspects of offering these courses. Our faculty and staff would be available to provide support for these areas and coordination of promotional materials, as well as for the pedagogical components.

Role of Departments / Faculties

Although the course numbers have DIAL designations, the offering Department or Faculty would be responsible for all academic aspects of their Semester In, including:

  • Deciding on theme/topic/focus for their Semester In
  • Choosing faculty to teach
  • Developing course outline
  • Scheduling and room reservations
  • Advertising and promotion (we would also link through our advertising/promotion)
  • Using the Semester In logo on all public promotions and formal communications
  • All resources and other aspects involved in offering the course
  • Grading (grades would be approved by the Department Chair and Faculty Dean)
  • Any disputed grades, or other grievances, would be adjudicated through normal Department/Faculty channels

Funding and Resources

Departments/Faculties would provide funding, as they already do for their courses. The principal expense is for faculty teaching time, which could involve temporary or long-term reassignments, teaching buyouts, and/or community members receiving stipends. A Semester In would also benefit from classroom space dedicated full-time for the Semester, with appropriate work space for students, and accessible faculty offices nearby. Particular semesters might require other space, for example laboratory space for a science-focused program.