Quick Reference

The Sequence   The course series General Education 110 and 111 has been taught for several years here at WSU. Among its purposes are: to give you experience and development in reading and thinking critically; to increase your understanding of cultural diversity and the process of cultural interaction; to familiarize you with works of intellectual importance from various periods and cultures; to give you an acquaintance with basic philosophical ideas, with the history of ideas, and approaches to literature and art; to introduce you to basic world history and basic cultural facts; to develop in you an original, creative, and independent mind; to introduce you to the academic culture and curriculum of the university; and to improve your ability to develop a point of view, to argue, and to express your ideas both orally and in writing.


Distance Learners Only: This sequence is being offered for the first time as a completely on-line course. All the resources for the course are on-line: the textbook, the readings, the historical atlas, a research library of on-line resources, the assignments, and even multimedia collections. All the assignments can be submitted electronically, and the comments will also be posted electronically. You can register for the course by mail or phone or you can submit online from http://www.eus.wsu.edu/edp/genpro/regform.htm.


The Course   The first course in the sequence will concentrate on cultures up until 1500. It cannot be comprehensive, and every professor struggles over what to include and what to leave out. I tend to emphasize depth and detail over coverage; the course will tend to emphasize coverage at first, but as the course develops, we will pay more attention to studying cultures and ideas in depth. During the course you will be invited to give your opinions on its content and its success; you can send your comments by e-mail or by going to the discussion page. That discussion page is always located in the main menu of each chapter of your textbook.

   This version of General Education 110 is very different from standard World History courses in that it focusses on humanities and primary texts rather than on memorizing a truck-load of information from a textbook. It shares with other sections the goal of introducing students to a broad range of world cultures and their histories to 1500 A.D. and introducing students to a body of historical knowledge and analytical terminology, while focussing on those elements that make each culture unique. This course, however, will focus heavily on cultural history, cultural systems, and history of ideas rather than historical events; as a result, the textbook, though initially the center of our attention, will by the end of the course be largely supplementary to the primary readings and other resources. Since we will be focussing on "how" people and cultures think, we will be reading a large amount of primary texts and examining a large amount of cultural artifacts; we will be focussing our energies on understanding these texts and artifacts. The assignments will be devoted mainly to explicating these works and other cultural artifacts: music, art, architecture, furniture, clothing, film, religion, and whatever else suits our fancy. With the exception of the learning skills assignments, all the work in this course will be devoted to understanding rather than rote memorization; the work will require energetic thinking and creativity for this is a thinking course and not a memorization course. By the end of the course, you should be thinking creatively and independently about the material in the course.

   Because the focus of this course will be on thinking and critical thinking, there will be no formal exams. At all. Instead, you will do two pieces of written work per unit; one will be an electronically submitted writing assignment that will require that you to develop and support your own ideas; the other will be a learning skills assignment that focusses on developing you as a learner, thinker, and teacher. These quizzes will be at first short and highly focussed; towards the end of the class they will be longer, more open-ended, and devoted to interaction with other students in the class. The course, then, is not about reading and memorization, but reading, thinking, application, and writing. So what makes this section radically unique is: a.) focus on culture and thinking; b.) a concentration on writing over memorization and exams; c.) collaboration and group work over individual work.


The Format   The course is divided into twenty-eight units. Each unit involves reading a textbook assignment, examining various multimedia resources, and reading primary texts. Every unit includes two writing assignments, as outlined above. The first will involve writing an argument or interpretation and using material from the readings or from independent research to develop your argument. The second will be a "learning skills" assignment; its purpose is to get you to focus on the processes by which you absorb, order, and use information. These learning skills assignments will almost always be focussed on some aspect of the writing assignment, or at least complement that assignment very closely.

Textbook
The General Education sequence is largely conceived of as a textbook course; however, I stress thinking, understanding, and creativity over rote memorization. If the course is a success, and if you are a success, you should find the textbook constraining and a bit simplistic by the end of the semester. The value of the textbook is as a background source of basic information for understanding the cultures you are going to come face to face with in class. The first few weeks of the course will be spent on learning to read the textbook and organize information. Once I am confident that you can read the textbook efficiently and extract information from it (rather than cram it in), the course will focus less on the textbook and its information. Therefore, the first part of the course will consist mainly of readings from the textbook; the second part of the course will cut down the readings from the textbook and increase the amount of readings from primary materials. Get to know, and know well, central and basic information in your textbook; part of this course will be devoted to teaching you how to extract and internalize the most important information in the textbook. This course is not going to be an elaborate trivial pursuit game; I'm not really interested in seeing how many small or obscure facts or dates or places you can memorize. You should, however, be able to do a textbook reading assignment and have internalized the most important information. Pay attention to headings or anything else the textbook tells you is important to know; if I repeat something from the textbook, you know it's vitally important.

The on-line textbook is the first of its kind in the world. You will find that each chapter of the textbook, except for the chapters "What is Culture?," "The Long Foreground," and "The Agricultural Revolution" is arranged in precise ways. Once you've mastered how to navigate one chapter or learning module, you will have mastered them all. If you need help navigating the site, please refer to the Navigation Instructions. I strongly advise you to use Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above. You will not be able to submit any written work or read the assignments unless you're using Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above. The individual chapters or modules of the textbook are designed for Navigator 3.0.

Each module has three windows. The two windows to the left are navigation windows. The top window is the "Main" menu; from it, you can access the "Browse" menu, the "Exit" menu, as well as find your way to a set of instructions on how to use the technology ("Help"), a link to a page on which you can enter into a discussion with other members of the class or ask questions of the grader or the developer ("Discussion"). The bottom left window can be either an "Exit" menu or a "Browse" menu. The "Browse" menu automatically loads each time you load the home page of that module. The "Exit" menu loads in this window only when you select it from the Main menu. The "Browse" menu includes three links: the first link, "Contents," links you to a table of contents that includes all the resources of the module. Those resources will always include: a.) a set of chapters on the culture and history organized by general topic; b.) a table of contents of primary readings from the World Cultures Anthology; c.) a link to Internet resources. Often, but not always, you will also find links to a Glossary for that culture and to an Historical Atlas for that culture or time period. The second link, "Resources," links you to annotated guides to Internet Resources related to the topic of that learning module. These Internet Resources have been vetted for their quality of information and presentation. Only a few highly polemical and highly advanced resources have been included in these resources. The third link, "About," describes the module, its purposes, and authorship.

The central window on the right is where all the materials will load. The initial page will load a title page. You get to the contents of the module by selecting the "Contents" button in the Browse menu. The title graphic will also appear on the contents page, but so will a scroll bar. If the contents are not visible, simply scroll down the page to make them visible. Each module will have a variety of links. If you choose any of the Reader, Glossary, Internet Resources, or Historical Atlas links, you'll be taken to another set of contents specific to that resource. If, on the other hand, you select one of the textbook chapters, you will be taken directly to that chapter. In order to read the textbook in sequence, begin with the topmost link in a particular topic. Select the topmost link, which sometimes is the very title of that section, and you will load that first chapter. At the bottom of each chapter is the title of the next chapter; you move to the next chapter by selecting that link. You will then be automatically moved to the next chapter. At the end of the sequence, there will be a link back to the Contents; that's how you know you've finished a sequence. Some chapters, on art, architecture, or other topics, are separated from the sequential set of chapters. You can always go back to the browse menu and select the "Contents" link if you want to skip around in the chapters.

The textbook is designed so that there are no links in the text itself, but rather all links to other resources are in the margins. It's better to read through the text than to get lost following links. If you decide that you want more information on a subject, term, or concept, look over at the margins of the paragraph you're reading and see if it's included in the links. You are not only given the name of the link, but you're also given its location in the textbook so you know where you're going. The marginal links include links to resources in the World Cultures Glossary, the Anthology of Readings in World Cultures, the World Cultures Historical Atlas, and other chapters in the learning modules.
Primary texts and artifacts (slides, music, etc.)
The only way to understand a culture is to listen carefully and creatively to what it says about itself, hence the focus of the course will gradually shift to reading primary texts over the textbook (which will remain your primary source of overall information). Part of the project here is to teach you how to read often difficult material; hence a good chunk of your written work will be devoted to teaching you how to think about texts and artifacts, what questions to ask and how to answer them. If the course is a success, and if you are a success, you will be able to pick up practically anything and say brilliant and interesting things about it. I have tried to select challenging but manageable material; if you read something and can't make heads or tails of it, don't worry, you'll get better as the course progresses. Come see me or come to the informal seminars when you don't understand something, or else write through e-mail or the discussion page. If you feel you are overwhelmed, come to me and we will retool the course to meet your needs. Later work in the course (paper, final project) will stress using primary texts over reproducing information; you should be devoting more, not less, time to primary readings as the course goes on. All the readings can be found in the Anthology of Readings in World Cultures
Internet Schedule
The Internet Schedule lists all the units and the reading and written assignments, as well as the time schedule of on-site students. Every component of the class can be accessed from this schedule.


Grading   The grade will be made up of three different types of work: written assignments, learning skills assignments, a final paper, and, for on-site students, in-class quizzes and participation.

   The written assignments will focus on a wide variety of tasks. For the most part they will involve you're developing an original argument and developing that argument coherently. You will be required to use more and more material and knowledge in your written assignments as the course develops. These written assignments will count for 50 % of your final grade if you are taking the course from a distance and 40% of your final grade for on-site students.

   The learning skills assignments will teach you how to process and think about information. Each of these assignments will involve both an explanation and an exercise in which you will be required to produce your own learning resources. You will be required to revise these assignments if they are insufficient; lack of revision will result in failing that assignment. These learning skills assignments will count for 25% of your final grade if you are taking the course from a distance and 20% of your final grade for on-site students.

   The final paper will take the place of a final examination; you might consider it a take-home final, but not really. This paper will ask you to consider a broad topic or issue and require you to address the problem by focussing on three of the cultures studied in the class. The purpose of this project will be to take a larger, relevant issue and apply the knowledge and ideas you've learned in the class to approaching a solution. This final paper will count 20% of your final grade.

    Finally, as in all General Education 110 sections, you will be required to do a library project. The purpose of the library project in this class is to teach you how to teach yourselves. Your textbook, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that some cultures don't deserve to be talked about, such as North American Native Americans. So in those areas which your textbook has neglected you, as a class, will write your own textbook. To do so, you will be required to determine what topics need to be covered, sign up for those topics, research the issue in the library or on the Internet, and write a paragraph or two on the topic and submit it to the class Internet pages. Part of the assignment will involve the rest of the class evaluating the project as a whole. The library project (including the mandatory evaluation of another's submission) will count for 5% of your final grade.

   In-class quizzes are for on-site students only. There will be several types: take-home quizzes that involve study skills, in-class group work to prepare for the written assignments, or single-person quizzes on material covered in class. These quizzes will count for 5% of your final grade for on-site students only.

   Participation is a vital part of the class. I expect you to attend regularly and become actively involved in the course, which means asking questions, shouting out your ideas, disagreeing with me, and adding your own two cents on a regular basis. Those people who really contribute to the class will be handsomely rewarded (I reserve the right to give more than 5% credit to those who really make the class wonderful); those who attend regularly and let me know in whatever way that they’re making an effort and really thinking over this material have nothing to worry about; those who are not attending or who are not talking to me or the rest of the class can kiss 5% of their grade good-bye. If you are shy or unsure of yourself, try to get over it; if you need to, particpate in the on-line discussion on my home page since participating in this discussion will substantially affect your participation grade. Participation will count for 10% of your final grade for on-site students only. Distance-learning students will be expected to correspond regularly with the instructor with questions and ideas; a high level of interaction with the instructor and other students in the class through the listprocessor or discussion page can add up to 5% extra credit to your final grade. I can't require you to join class discussions on-line because some of you do not have access to the on-line materials (CD-ROM students).

   The Contract. In taking this course and teaching this course, we are entering into a contract with each other. This is your part of the contract. You agree to be professional (this course is, in part, your first steps into the professional world): at the minimum, you do the work, attend class, participate in class with questions and comments, be diplomatic and courteous, and do a certain amount of work yourself in making the course a success for you and everybody else. You agree to be a student: to some degree, you should be devoting yourself to becoming better: smarter, more creative, more confident, more intellectual, more independent, more articulate, and more successful; your job as a student is to challenge yourself and always, as they say in the Sega commercial, take it to the next level. You agree to be a consumer: you are paying for this course with both your money and, more importantly, your time, so it is your responsibility to make known to me diplomatically and maturely your problems and difficulties in the course, your needs, your interests, what succeeds for you and what doesn't; generally, people who speak out diplomatically succeed in life and people who don't speak out, or do so immaturely, fail in life.

   This is my part of the contract: I will treat you with respect, charity, honesty and trust. I will strive to challenge you but not so far that you get lost. I will listen and respond to your needs, problems, difficulties, and interests. I will strive to make the course interesting and intellectually challenging and devote my time to making you understand what you are reading and what I'm saying. My concern is to make each student smarter, more creative, more confident, more intellectual, more independent, and more successful.


TextsDuiker, Spielvogel, World History (Third Edition), vols. 1 and 2 combine
OR
World Cultures
Course packet of primary readings
Baghavad Gita
The on-line historical atlas
World Cultures

World Cultures Home Page


©1993, Washington State University
Updated 2-18-98


Send Mail
dee@mail.wsu.edu