I was rather inspired by the UVU Presidential Lecture given by Martha Nussbaum recently. It was entitled: Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. I'm toying with the possibility of having future 2010/2020 students write their rhetorical analyses about her book by the same title.
At any rate, her lecture nicely expressed a lot of the ideas I want to communicate to my students throughout my course. With that in mind, I have updated my Course Objectives statement in my syllabus. Here's my new statement:
Overview and Objectives
This course is intended to prepare you for future college courses, for your future profession, and for your participation as a citizen in a democratic society. Academic institutions, workplaces, and democracies have a strong need for you to become an individual who is capable of: 1) independent thought, 2) developing respect and empathy for people who are different from you and who may disagree with you, and 3) recognizing that nearly every issue is more complex than you initially thought it was before you began to examine it in more depth. Thoughtful, well-researched dialogue (which we refer to as “argumentation” in academia) is generally considered the best means to this end. It can be a messy, even uncontrollable process at times---but it is always educational. Once individuals and societies have gone through the crucible of argumentation, they are nearly always better for it.
To prepare you to be a more effective participant in the argumentation process, this course emphasizes: critical thinking, library research, and academic writing. With that in mind, here are the specific objectives this course ought to accomplish. By the end of the semester, you should be more prepared to join your academic, professional, and social community by:
--Making the transition from learning to write into writing to learn.
--Knowing how to form effective rhetorical arguments that are backed by sound logic and evidence.
--Evaluating the rhetorical arguments presented by others.
--Developing effective research and writing strategies.
--Becoming familiar with the library and learning how to quickly find the resources that are of the highest credibility.
--Learning how to correctly use and cite the resources in your papers using an appropriate documentation system.
--Understanding the most effective way to incorporate research into your own writing.
--Developing a willingness to recognize and wrestle with the complexities of the topics you choose to think and write about on a deeper, more critical and scholarly level.
What do you currently have in your syllabus for your Course Objectives?