Course Outline: General Education 111/111.HTM

   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; 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; and to improve your ability to develop a point of view, to argue, and to express your ideas both orally and in writing.

   The Course. General Education 111 concentrates on world cultures after 1500; however, because most people will be taking the course out of sequence (and all the others took the General Education 110 last year), we will necessarily be reviewing aspects of world cultures before 1500. The course cannot be comprehensive, and every professor struggles over what to include and what to leave out. During the course you will be invited to give your opinions on its content and its success. 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.

   This section is slightly different versions of Gen. Ed. 111 in that it focuses on thinking, culture and reading. They share with other sections the goal of introducing students to a broad range of modern world civilizations and their histories from 1500 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 primarily on cultural history, cultural systems, and history of ideas rather than historical events; as a result, the textbook (Duiker) will be equal to rather than dominant over the primary readings and the lectures. Since we will be focussing on ÒhowÓ people and cultures think, we will be reading a considerable amount of primary texts and cultural artifacts; we will be focussing a great deal of energy on understanding these texts and artifacts. As the class goes on, lectures and class discussions will be devoted mainly to explicating these works or discussing other cultural artifacts: music, art, architecture, furniture, clothing, film, religion, and whatever else suits our fancy. With the exception of the early quizzes, 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.

   Because the focus of this course will be on thinking and critical thinking, there will be no formal exams. Instead, you will do two quizzses per week, one will be a collaborative writing quiz on the Internet that will require that you examine and respond to other student responses; the other quiz will be an unannounced in-class quiz. These quizzes will at first focus on learning skills, but in the last half of the course will consist largely of in-class collaborative writing assignments. So the course 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. Classes will be held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:10-11:00 in Todd 207. Even with large enrollment, classes will consist mainly of discussion, questions, group work and seminars, and a few lectures. The class format is very free: I encourage you to speak up with questions, ideas, or comments at any time. The central part of your job in the course is to discuss, question, and critique in class, so class participation is a substantial portion of your grade.
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 listen to 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. 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. Material from the textbook will not be repeated in class but will be included on quizzes, so you will need to keep up on the readings; my assumption will always be that you have read the textbook and have absorbed the information at some level so that I can talk about other, more interesting things in class. You will find it hard to follow me in class if you ignore the textbook; if you neglect the textbook readings or do them carelessly, there is an excellent chance that you wonÕt understand material presented in class. Every semester a student indicates they didnÕt understand certain aspects of the lecture and it turns out that they simply didnÕt do the reading for that day. 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; IÕm 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 itÕs 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. 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"), and a link to a page which you can search the world wide web using a variety of search engines. 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, "About," describes the module and its purposes. The second 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 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. 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. For instance, most of the modules begin with a set of chapters on the history of that culture in that time period. 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 no link at the bottom of the page. You can always go back to the browse menu and select the "Contents" link if you want to skip around in the chapters.

There are no links built into the textbook text itself. 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 class time 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 canÕt make heads or tails of it, donÕt worry, youÕll get better as the course progresses. Come see me or come to the informal seminars when you donÕt understand something. If you feel you are overwhelmed, come to me and we will retool the course to meet your needs. Later work in the course (the in-class essay, 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.
Classes :
I do not enforce attendance; however, I make it a rigorous policy never to repeat material from the textbook in class lectures and discussion. Classes and lectures are independent of your readings unless they are devoted to discussing one of the primary texts we are reading; it will always be assumed that you have read and in part absorbed materials from the readings before class. Classes will almost always be about thinking, understanding, and explanation rather than listing information; thereÕs an intangible but exponentially large difference between knowing information and understanding information. The classes will be devoted to the latter; you will not do well on the written work if you cut class (which is your prerogative). You will also be graded substantially on class participation, which can be achieved in several ways; your job, then, is not only to come to class but to actively discuss, question, and rethink material. I for my part strive to make classes new, different, and intellectually challenging and exciting.
Internet Home Page.
This class is also a web-based class; there is a home page on the Internet and a discussion group attached to it for this course; this home page will contain the course packet (except for copyrighted material), an alternative textbook, syllabus, discussion quizzes, learning skills assignments, extra credit questions and quizzes, and discussion. This is the third year the course has been taught on-line; it is located at ../111. You are required to do the on-line discussion quizzes, but you may choose to do the readings for the course on-line as well. At least one quiz per week will appear on the home page rather than be distributed in class; these quizzes will require writing two to four paragraphs and working collaboratively. There will be extra credit work offered in this course, but it will only be offered to those who are on-line to the home page. If you know nothing about the Internet, I will be offering a couple of classes in navigating the Internet. It is strongly urged that you get an e-mail account as well; you can use your e-mail account to do the work as well. The Internet is a genuinely cool place and will probably be required for every class by the time you are seniors; it will certainly be required in your professional career (as will e-mail and list-servers). Now is the time to get acquainted with this cool place we call the Internet.
Internet Schedule
The Internet Schedule lists all the units and the reading and written assignments. Every component of the class can be accessed from this schedule.
   Grading and Examination Policy. The grade will be made up of three different types of work: examinations, papers, and participation.

   There will be two types of examinations: in-class quizzes and Internet discussion quizzes. You will receive at least one unannounced quiz every week (and sometimes two); these quizzes will initially will focus on the readings from the textbook and class material and will consist of identifications and study guides. The purpose of these initial quizzes is to teach you how to read, filter, and absorb facts and ideas and to let me know if youÕre comprehending the material. Most of these quizzes in the first half of the course will focus on how to learn and will cover topics ranging from study guides to determining significance. As the semester progresses and my confidence in you increases, the quizzes will be much more open-ended, collaborative and essayistic, stressing creativity and independence over the regurgitation of memorized information. These quizzes will count for 40% of your final grade.

   There will be three papers; these papers will change character throughout the quarter. Personally, I hate exams and do not believe in exams as Òmeasuring devicesÓ or as trivial pursuit; I would rather spend your time teaching you than measuring you. However, I do need to know if you are doing well or poorly in the class, and I need to know if you are having fundamental problems so we can work to correct them. This is the purpose of many of the in-class quizzes, but I would rather you focus on writing and thinking. The first paper project will be like a midterm: it will be an in-class essay. You will be given one or two central problems; you will choose one and write an essay in class addressing the problem. There will be no right or wrong answer: I will be looking for creativity, organization, and how well you use information and ideas from the class. You should view this in-class essay as a step in reaching more sophisticated and interesting levels in your thinking. The in-class essay will count for 10% of your final grade.

   There will be another take-home, interpretive paper assignment of 3-4 pages concerning a non-Western cultural event; this paper assignment will consist of two sections, an on-line debate and the paper proper. The paper assignment will be a very open one and will focus on explaining the event, that is, interpreting or analyzing the principles or meaning of that event using the terms, material, and methods you have learned in class; your job is to write on something that interests you greatly. In other words, the purpose of the paper is to apply the knowledge and ideas you're learning in the class. This paper will count for 10% of your final grade.

   The final paper will take the place of a final examination; you could consider it a take-home final. 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 class will write the topics, and I'll select the best and most relevant. 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 project will be a multimedia project, that is, you will not only write the project, you'll produce a publication with pictures, videos, sound, or whatever. This final paper will be a team paper; you will get the outline of the assignment in the third week of class and your teams will be assigned sometime in the last third of the class. This final paper will count 20% of your final grade.

   Finally, as in most General Education 110 sections, you will be required to do a short library research 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 and Shi'a Muslims. 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, 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.

   Class participation will be a major factor in your grade and account for 15% of your course grade. 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 daily basis. Those people who really contribute to the class will be handsomely rewarded (I reserve the right to give more than 15% credit to those who really make the class wonderful); those who attend regularly and let me know in whatever way that theyÕre 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 20% 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 the home page since participating in this discussion will substantially affect your participation grade.

   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 doesnÕt; generally, people who speak out diplomatically succeed in life and people who donÕt 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 IÕm saying. My concern is to make each student smarter, more creative, more confident, more intellectual, more independent, and more successful.

texts

The following texts are required for the course:
  1. Duiker, Spielvogel, World History (Mpls.: West Publishing Co., 1994). Available in the bookstore or the Internet textbook, World Cultures
  2. Course packet (to be sold in class)
  3. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (available in the bookstore)
  4. Internet Pages on Netscape (../111) which can be accessed from the Student Computing Labs in the dorms and in the Information Technology Building ($50 for a semester pass), from the Avery Microcomputing Lab if you're a Freshman Composition Student ($25 for a lab pass), from the Engineering or Architecture Computer Labs (free and only available to engineering or architecture students), from SLIC computer lab (free for science students), from the Quick Info Center PC's in Holland Library (free), from the Information PC's in Owen Science Library (free), or from your dorm room via a modem or dedicated connection (free; go to ITB 2047 to get the necessary software).
  5. Optional: An historical atlas (advised but not required; use the library atlases and save some bucks; no examination material will be drawn from any atlas)
World Cultures

World Cultures Home Page


©1994, Washington State University
Updated 1-16-97


Send Mail
dee@mail.wsu.edu