Course Philosophy & Methodology: Critical Thinking & Life Experiences:
Increasingly the concept of “critical thinking” has come under attack in American political culture, opponents arguing that being exposed to diverse ideas is intended to indoctrinate students or to undermine traditional values. This course assumes the opposite perspective; exposure to alternative ideas typically reinforces personal values while also deepening a student’s sense of empathy within the human experience. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” This course’s philosophy is rooted in a number of premises:
- Active citizenship requires an understanding of a broad base of ideas and people;
- Humans have more in common then they typically recognize;
- The strength of American democracy lies in discussion & diversity;
- There is something innately valuable in learning about other people’s life experiences.
Students are expected to be in the Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Building by noon on the days of the Forum and are expected to remain until the presentation is over at 12:50. Rudeness will NOT be tolerated & may result in immediate expulsion from the class meeting &/or the course at the professor’s discretion. Students must come to class on time, take notes (on paper), & remain in class until the end of the session. During class students should be polite to one another & the presenting speaker. Rudeness includes (but is not limited to) computer usage, laughing, note passing, passively sitting, sleeping, talking, & texting. While talking during presentations is discouraged, questions are highly encouraged at the appropriate times.
Student evaluation will be based upon the number of presentations attended and written observations. Students are also expected to attend and write about two other cultural activities on campus in the St. George community; these activities might include a concert, a play, or an art exhibit. Grades will be based on the following general criteria:
- A: 10 Forums, 2 Cultural Events
- B: 6 Forums, 2 Cultural Events
- C: 5 Forums, 2 Cultural Events
- D: 4 Forums, 2 Cultural Events
Each Reflection Paper (details below) is worth a maximum of 10 points. You will need to attend any 10 of the 12 Dixie Forums and 2 outside cultural events. That said, it is possible to earn 140 points if you attend all 12 Dixie Forums. However, only 120 maximum points are applied to your final grade.
Students must write a 600-800 word reflection paper (doc or docx only, double-spaced, 12 point Times or Times New Roman font) corresponding to each of their attendances at Dixie Forum presentations and cultural events. These exercises are not formal writing assignments where grading is based on grammar or structural mistakes; instead, students are expected to actively engage themselves in the presentation & provide thoughtful reflections on what they found interesting. Reflection papers must be submitted electronically via Canvas within one week (the Monday following each presentation at 11:59 p.m.) to receive full credit. Students have until the Tuesday of Finals Week each semester to submit any late papers at reduced credit.