ICS Syllabus Spring 2014

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The Individual in Contemporary Society
1333 IDS 1133
Spring 2014
Davis 224
MWF 1:25-2:25
James Vaughn, Ph.D., and Jennifer Long, Ph.D.
 

Contact Info

                                                Dr. Long                                 Dr. Vaughn

Office                                      Troutt 317                                219A Davis Hall
Telephone                                574-1217                                 574-1327
Email                                       jlong@usao.edu                        jvaughn@usao.edu
Office Hours                             
                                               
                                                                      

Course Description

This course offers an examination of what it means to be an individual in mass society, and how society affects the individual. Topics in this course include major theories of human nature, and issues and problems confronting the individual in society. We’ll be using the many academic disciplines—psychology, sociology, biology, economics, philosophy, and more—to ask big and important questions about human nature, human behavior, why we live together in societies, and the good and bad consequences of those societies.

The IDS Core Curriculum and ICS

ICS is part of USAO’s unique interdisciplinary Core Curriculum, and thus has a larger purpose apart from disseminating information about human behavior and social institutions. Indeed, the specific content itself will change from semester to semester and from section to section depending on the faculty team. The objectives of this—and all IDS courses—are larger, more complex, and much more significant. We aim to produce students who will learn and use the tools of critical thinking, enabling them to become good consumers, questioners, and analyzers of information; develop a life-long love of learning; and appreciate the value of multiple perspectives in understanding complex issues.

Because each IDS course shares these common goals, the Core Curriculum is an integrated whole. We encourage students to move through the Core in its prescribed order, from courses that deal with the Individual (this class), and then broaden into the Natural World, the Community and the Nation, and finally the World of Ideas. The Skills courses (writing, rhetoric, math) should be completed before the student moves on to sophomore-level IDS courses. For more information about the Core Curriculum, see the IDS webpage at www.usao.edu/usao-ids.

General Course Outline

I. Introduction to the Idea of Human Nature

·         Ghost in the Machine, Noble Savage, Blank Slate

II. Human Nature + Science

·         Theories of the Mind

·         Cultural universals

·         Neuroscience

·         Behavioral genetics

·         Evolutionary psych

III. Human Nature + Culture

·         Culture a as a human creation

·         Institutions

·         the value of conformity and belonging

IV. Why does the idea of a human nature cause such a fuss?

·         Do innate differences lead to inequalities?

·         Does a human nature leave any room for social improvement?

·         Is there free will? Are we responsible for our actions? 

·         Does life have purpose?

V. Why does human nature matter to us?

·         Perception problems

·         Intuition

·         Moral Sense

·         Society and politics

·         Violence

·         Gender

·         Children

·         The arts

Books

  • Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate: the Modern Denial of Human Nature
  • Lehrer, Jonah. Proust Was a Neuroscientist
  • Other readings linked through the syllabus

Assignments

Exams

There will be a midterm and a final exam, each worth 100 points

Writings

Every Friday, students will post a writing assignment to the class turnitn.com discussion board. The posts should be from a half to a page in length, and should critically consider class readings, discussions, and lectures. There is no one way to write a post: you may agree with ideas, disagree with ideas, ask questions, offer answers, etc. Each post is worth up to 10 points; grades will be assigned based on depth of analysis, demonstrated grasp of the material, and clarity of writing.

In addition to the posts, each student is expected to respond to at least one five other posts during the course of the semester. The responses are worth up to 5 points each. 

turnitin.com class id: 7471559
turnitin.com class password: ghost

The posts are due by midnight on the following dates:
 

Jan 17
Jan 24
Jan 31
Feb 7
Feb 14
Feb 21
Feb 28
March 7
March 14
March 28
April 4
April 11
April 18

Late assignments will not be accepted.

Grades

Midterm                                  100 points
Final                                       100 points
13 Writings                              130 points
5 responses                             25 points

Total possible                          355 points

 

Tentative Course Schedule

Date

Topic

Reading/Assignments

F 1-10

Introduction to the Class and Theories of Human Nature

 

M 1-13

Theories of Human Nature

Pinker Chapters 1 and 2

W 1-15

Theories of Human Nature

Pinker Chapters 1 and 2

F 1-17

Science and Psych : Theories of the Mind

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Freud: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/freud.html

M 1-20

Science and Psych : Theories of the Mind

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Freud: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/freud.html

W 1-22

Science and Psych : Theories of the Mind

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Freud: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/freud.html

F 1-24

Science and Psych : Theories of the Mind

Lehrer Chapter 1
Read a few poems from Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" at 
 "Leaves of Grass" at Project Gutenberg

M 1-27

Science and Psych : Theories of the Mind

Lehrer Chapter 8
Read a little in Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" at adelaide.edu

W 1-29

Science: Cultural Universals

Pinker Chapter 4
Intelligence: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/intelligence.html

F 1-31

Science: Cultural Universals

Pinker Chapter 4
Intelligence: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/intelligence.html

M 2-3

Cultural Universals Language

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/langdev.html
Lehrer Chapter 7

W 2-5

Science: Neuroscience

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Lehrer Chapter 4

F 2-7

Science: Neuroscience

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Lehrer Chapter 4

M 2-10

Science: Evolutionary Psych

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Evolution: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humanevol.html
www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html

W 2-12

Science: Evolutionary Psych

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Evolution: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humanevol.html
www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html

F 2-14

Science: Evolutionary Psych

Pinker Chapters 3 and 5
Evolution: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humanevol.html
www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html
 

M 2-17

Culture and Institutions

“Institutions” by Walter Neale. Electronic Reserve

W 2-19

Culture and Institutions

“Institutions” by Walter Neale. Electronic Reserve

F 2-21

Culture and Conformity

Pinker Chapter 4
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/socpsy.html
Opinions and Social Pressure. Electronic reserve.

M 2-24

Culture and Conformity

Pinker Chapter 4
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/socpsy.html
Opinions and Social Pressure. Electronic reserve.

W 2-26

MIDTERM EXAM

 

F 2-28

Problems: Differences?

Pinker Chapters 7 and  8
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/iku.html

 

 

 

M 3-3

Problems: Room for Improvement?

Pinker Chapter  9

W 3-5

Problems: Room for Improvement?

Pinker Chapter  9

F 3-7

Problems: Determinism or Free Will?

Pinker Chapter  10
"Determinism" at www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/determinism.html

M 3-10

Problems: Determinism or Free Will?

Pinker Chapter  10
"Determinism" at www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/determinism.html

W 3-12

Problems: Determinism or Free Will?

Pinker Chapter  10
"Determinism" at www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/determinism.html

F 3-14

Problems: Does Life Have Meaning?

Pinker Chapter  11
An excerpt from Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" at PBS

Spring Break

 

 

M 3-24

Problems: Does Life Have Meaning?

Pinker Chapter  11
An excerpt from Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" at PBS

W 3-36

Problems: Perception

Pinker Chapters 12 and 13

F 3-28

Problems: Perception

Pinker Chapters 12 and 13
Lehrer Chapter 3

M 3-31

Perception and Art

Pinker Chapters 12 and 13

Lehrer Chapter 5
Browse some Cezanne pieces through Nash Library's ARTstor

W 4-2

Creativity

Pinker Chapter 20
Lehrer Chapter 6
Watch excerpts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring ballet here

F 4-4

Creativity

Pinker Chapter 20
Lehrer Chapter 6
Watch excerpts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring ballet here

M 4-7

Problems: Survival and Biases

Pinker Chapter 14
Social Judgment: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/socpsy.html (select “Introduction”)
Cognitive Dissonance: ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

W 4-9

Problems: Survival and Biases

 

F 4-11

Problems : Moral Sense

Pinker Chapter 15 and 16

M 4-14

Problems : Moral Sense

Pinker Chapter 15 and 16

W 4-16

Problems: Gender

Pinker Chapter 18

F 4-18

 

 

M 4-21

 

 

F 4-25

Final Exam 12:00-1:30

 

 

 Course Policies

Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices

Cell phones and other beeping, chirping, singing, game-playing, text-messaging and noise-making electronic things must be turned OFF during class and kept out of sight.  Because of the potential for distraction (for you and those sitting around you), laptops use is not allowed in class. (Exceptions can be made only in the case of a documented accommodation need. Please inform the instructors if this is the case).

We know you think that you can listen to lecture, check your Facebook, take notes, text your friends about where to meet for lunch, formulate intelligent questions, read your email, participate in class discussion and listen to your iPod all at the same time, but you can't. Lots of good research tells us that multitasking detracts from the learning experience and can actually make you dumber (see, for example, "The Myth of Multi-Tasking" at http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking).

Be fully present in the classroom; treat class as a one hour refuge from all the other electronic demands in your life. You might find that all those pressing demands on your time—all those incoming texts, all the new Facebook statuses, all the waiting messages—really aren’t all that urgent. You might even find that the electronic silence gives you a calm space in which to really think and learn.

 That said, if your cell phone or other beeping, chirping, singing, game-playing, text-messaging or noise-making electronic thing goes off in class, you will be asked to leave. If you're texting or emailing or checking your Facebook in class, you'll be asked to leave.

 Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this or any other class on campus. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to: Plagiarism (see page 22 of student handbook for definition); Fabrication (page 23); Cheating (page 23); Forgery and Altering Documents (page 23). All instances of dishonesty will be result in penalty without exception. The maximum penalty for the first offense is a grade of "F" for the course (page 23) and the incident will be reported to the Academic Vice President for inclusion in the student's permanent university file. A second and all subsequent offenses (in any course across the university) may result in the student's expulsion from the university. We're really not kidding about this. Don't cheat. We mean it.

 ADA Statement

According to the ADA, each student with a disability is responsible for notifying the University of his/her disability and requesting accommodations. If you think you have a qualified disability and need classroom accommodations, contact the office of Student Services located on the third floor of the Student Center.  Please advise the professor of your disability as soon as possible, to ensure timely implementation of appropriate accommodations. Faculty have an obligation to respond when they receive official notice of a disability from Student Services but are under no obligation to provide retroactive accommodations.  To receive services, you must submit appropriate documentation and complete an intake process during which the existence of a qualified disability is verified and reasonable accommodations are identified.  Call 405-574-1278 for more information.