In 2019, UMF piloted a new First Year Fusion (FYF) program that combines First Year Seminar with a week-long program of Research Learning Experiences for incoming students prior to UMF’s Fall Orientation. During Fusion Week, students join an intellectual community that is closely mentored by faculty as they travel to various locations across Franklin County, the State of Maine, and this year even globally with a new Fusion program in Japan. Together students and faculty explore the theme of their FYF course through highly experiential activities, producing student-directed research and creative projects.

Participating in the Fusion program permits you to come to campus a week early, move into your room, meet friends, and set a foundation to succeed in college. After Orientation, your Fusion course resume with the rest of your Fall classes though the intensive Fusion Week permits your FYF course to finish mid-semester, giving you a chance to focus on fewer course during the crunch of the end of the term.

Each Fusion course in Maine has a course fee of $100 to cover course-related travel, food, lodging, and activities. The course fee is included with your Fall Tuition and can be paid for through your financial aid and scholarship packages.

The Japan Global Fusion course has a course fee of $2,600 to cover all course-related fees, including international travel. But incoming students are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship to offset this fee in addition to any financial aid or scholarship packages they may have received.

Admission in all Fusion courses and the scholarship for the Japan course are based on a first-come/first-serve basis.


Applications for Maine-Based Fusion Course

Applications for the Global Fusion Course & Scholarship

First Year Fusion classes are part of UMF’s Research Learning Experience (RLE) program designed to prepares students for academic success and future careers.

Here are the FYF courses that we are offering in 2023:

FYS 100 Environment Acadia

Matt McCourt, Geography & Environmental Planning

Fusion Week I (Aug 11-17): Bar Harbor, Maine

All across Maine, people are making important and significant contributions to the economic development and environmental protection of their communities. During Fusion Week, students in Environment Acadia meet with community leaders who are finding creative solutions to revive rural communities in Maine. During the Fall Semester, they participate in activities that contribute to transformative projects such as renewable energy, local foods, arts-based redevelopment, and access in small coastal and island communities. Next year we plan to explore new communities, meeting with more of Maine’s “change makers.”

  • Start your college career with a camping trip in Acadia National Park

  • Meet with “Change Makers” who are making a difference in their communities

  • Work with your classmates to develop your own creative project that can make a difference

Zack Laflamme (’23): “I was both a TA and a student in Environment Acadia. Traveling to different places across Maine my first week of college was really impactful. So much so that I switched my major to Geography and Environmental Planning to learn more and work in the environmental sustainability field.”

Application for Environment Acadia & Other Maine-Based Fusion Courses

FYS 100 The Good Life

Linda Beck, UMF Dean of Global & Experiential Education and Political Science

Fusion Week I (Aug 11-17): Flagstaff Lake, Rangely, ME

In The Good Life course, you are invited to set aside time as you begin your undergraduate career at UMF to think about what may be the most important questions in life: What counts as a Good Life? How do I go about living that Good Life? What will be my great work for the good of all? During Fusion week, you will begin the course at a tranquil retreat on Flagstaff Lake run by Maine Huts and Trails. You will stay in cabins along the lake where you can calm your mind, and focus on what really matters. We’ll read inspiring texts that explore The Good Life and have meaningful conversations while spending time in nature, walking the trails, and canoeing the river. Throughout the semester, students will explore their values and visions of The Good Life, articulating it in a final project through a medium of their choosing. 

  • Spend time at a tranquil retreat on Flagstaff Lake

  • Enjoy nature while you contemplate what the Good Life means to you

  • Engage in meaningful conversations and develop important connections with classmates as you transition to the UMF community

Application for The Good Life & Other Maine-Based Fusion Courses

FYS 100 Conflict & Compassion

Nicole Kellett, Anthropology Prof.

Kelly Bentley, Community Health

Fusion Week II (Aug 18-24): Mi’kmaq Gathering of Tribes, Caribou, ME

Passionate about diversity, equity, and social justice? In this FYF course, we explore these issues through interactions with activists from across the State. During Fusion Week 2022, we attend the “Mawiomi (Gathering) of Tribes” of the Aroostook Band of Mi’kmaq peoples to learn about the community’s culture and traditions through drumming, dancing, music, foods, crafts, ceremonies and more. During the fall semester, we met with Maine-based organizations working on social justice, civil rights, diversity, and inclusion, including immigrant, refugee and LGBTQAI+ groups. Next year we plan to once again explore different communities (and cuisines) to learn more about the diversity that enriches our State, reflect on ways in which we are interconnected, and how you can foster knowledge and actions to address conflict and promote compassion.

  • Enjoy camping with the Aroostook Band of Mi’kmaq at the Mawiomi Gathering of Tribes

  • Engage in traditional dancing, drumming, crafts, music, foods, and ceremonies to learn about the strength, spirit, and endurance of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs

  • Learn about organizations, agencies and individuals dedicated to celebrating and promoting diversity in Maine

  • Collaborate with a small cohort of students to engage with community resources and cultural life at UMF.

Trinity Slate (’26): “Through Conflict and Compassion, I was able to immerse myself in and learn about Mi’kmaq culture and beliefs through experiences outside a classroom. By attending the “Mawiomi” (Gathering of Tribes) and taking part in Mi’kmaq cultural activities as a class, we were able to all come together as one to discuss difficult but necessary topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Application for Conflict & Compassion and Other Maine-Based Fusion Courses

Urban Maine: The Stories and Sounds

Steve Pane, Performing Arts

Lewis Robinson, Creative Writing

Fusion Week II (August 18-24): Portland, ME

Maine is more than a pastoral vacationland. Cities like Portland, Augusta, and Belfast that continue to evolve and add new layers to their unique histories. During Fusion Week 2022, Urban Maine: The Stories and Sounds, students traveled to Portland where they explored one of Maine’s premier coastal cities and met with a wide variety of Maine city dwellers: from fishermen to artists, shopkeepers to chefs. During the fall semester, through their collaborative collection of individual narratives and soundscapes, they created their own work in the form of audio podcasts, sound collages and videos. Next year we plan to return to Portland to continue our exploration of this vibrant, ever-changing city and its diverse sites, sounds, and people. 

  • Explore the Coastal Maine cities of Portland and Belfast

  • Investigate how the dynamics of sounds shape place and experience

  • Learn how to record and produce audio

  • Craft powerful stories from the soundscapes you collect

  • Collaborate with your classmates as you explore Maine and join the UMF community

Yolanda Ares (’26): “I lived in a city, so for me that wasn’t much of a big difference. But the people we met and interviewed to capture their stories, that is what I truly took away from the experience… When you learn something new, as that stranger becomes a friend in that moment, them telling you their story really impacts you.”

Application for Urban Maine & Other Maine-Based Fusion Courses

NEW: Japan Through Time and Space

Sarah Maline, Visual Arts Prof.

Global Fusion Week (July 30 – Aug 10, 2023): Tokyo, Akita, and Kyoto

Almost 400 years ago, the great poet-monk-traveler Matsuo Bashô wrote that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Through the Japan Global Fusion course, your UMF journey will begin with a pre-semester trip to Japan where you explore many of the unique places and spaces Bashô encountered in his journeys. We first visit Tokyo, the global city of light, movement and futuristic fantasy where we immerse ourselves in Japanese culture, history and food. We then travel to the far north of Japan’s Honshu island to explore Akita with Japanese university students and faculty from UMF’s sister school, Akita International University. We will arrive in time to experience the Kantô Matsuri harvest festival, visit an active local farm, and meet the legendary local Namahage demons who try to scare the laziness out of children and adults alike. We then travel to the ancient Japanese capital of Kyôto, exploring its narrow streets and temple paths to discover the places of old that still exist within this modern city. We will then take Japan’s famous bullet train back to Tokyo where we catch our flight back home and then regroup in the fall to continue our discussion with our Akita counterparts through a Virtual Global Experience (VGE). 

During the trip, we will build our own individual tabi nikki, or travel diaries, drawing inspiration from historical artworks, the diaries of historical Japanese travelers and our own experiences through writing, photography, video and sound recording, and even drawing or painting—whatever processes you want to use to document your time in Japan. When we return to UMF, we will work together to create a group diary project to synthesize our experiences and share them with the campus and local community. Through a project-based VGE with our friends and colleagues from Akita, we will analyze how our expectations and memories of the places we visited activate and/or alter our understanding of those places, and how places build and hold meaning through space and time.

There is a course fee of $2,600 for the Japan Global Fusion course that covers all course-related travel, airfare, most food, lodging, and activities.

To apply for a $1,000 scholarship to offset the course fee, please complete this course and scholarship application. To be admitted into the program and receive a scholarship, you must also ask a high school teacher, counselor, mentor, or early college professor to fill out this academic reference form. For more information, visit our Global First Year Fusion webpage. 


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