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REPORT ON INTEGRATIVE LEARNING ASSIGMENTS
Global Visions – Sara Campbell and Joseph Filonowicz
November 13, 2013
We have three integrative sessions-with-assignments built into our fall 2013 syllabus.
The first took place on October 16, and was devoted to the subject of rhetoric and advertising. The students in Philosophy 61 studied the first parts of Plato’s Gorgias, in which Socrates argues that rhetoric, cosmetology and “cookery” are all fraudulent; they don’t represent genuine forms of expertise. For example, Socrates asserts that true feminine beauty is enhanced only by physical trainers, not those who practice “ornamentation.” At the joint session, Prof. Campbell presented visual advertisements from different times and places in U.S. history, and the students were asked to evaluate them according to the session plan we had designed (attached). We presented our results at the Learning Communities faculty development meeting held on October 25.
Prof. Campbell then created a blog post assignment asking students to reflect upon and analyze the rhetoric of an advertisement and its message from the point of view of their fictional expertise and from the point of view of Socrates as stated in Gorgias.
Our second joint session will be Monday November 18, on the topic of the soul, in relation to questions concerning global citizenship. The main text will be the students’ reading for philosophy, chapter 2 of Patricia S. Churchland’s new book, Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain. Churchland is both a philosopher and a neuroscientist, and she argues persuasively against the ancient idea (present in Plato) that humans are made of physical bodies and nonphysical, “detachable” souls. Roughly, the question is this: Would widespread abandonment of belief in personal immortality foster more worldly, cosmopolitan attitudes and behavior? (After all, if we are destined to live on in some form after death, none of us is really a citizen of this world; we are all temporary resident “aliens.”)
Prof. Campbell will create a written assignment that addresses students’ thoughts about their own evolution as global citizens as a result of their experience in Global Visions this semester and whether Churchland’s argument of a soul-less existence would shrink or broaden their cosmopolitan attitudes and behaviors.
Finally, we have tentatively agreed to send our students to the Hayden Planetarium for an end-of-semester experience-with-writing assignment, to see their newest display, “Dark Universe” and contemplate the ways in which we are all “citizens of the universe.” (From their website: With astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as your guide, go beyond the night sky and into deep space to find out how discoveries over the past 100 years have led us to two great cosmic mysteries: dark matter and dark energy. You’ll hurtle through Jupiter’s atmosphere, peer at the web of dark matter holding galaxies together, and watch the colorful remains of the universe’s beginnings unfold. Experience Dark Universe to celebrate the pivotal moments that have brought us unprecedented knowledge of the universe and our place in it—and glimpse the exciting future of cosmic exploration.”)
This field trip will take the students from the literal “local” subway ride to the galaxy and beyond and, finally, back to their origins as dark energy. We haven’t yet developed an integrative assignment for this field trip.