Special Note on Creating a Virtual Community: In order to minimize the spread of Covid-19, this course will be taught online via Zoom, a high-quality video conferencing platform that will allow us to create a virtual classroom that closely approximates the experience of meeting in a physical space. One way to contribute to the success of our virtual classroom is to keep your camera turned on during class sessions. While this may be a little uncomfortable at first, our willingness to be “present” for each other will help us establish a learning community that is based on mutual trust and respect. If you have any concerns about this policy, please reach out to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss your situation and develop an alternate strategy if necessary.
Cardinal Operation Hope and Help: A community begins when a group of people come together to pursue a common interest, but to truly flourish there must be a shared sense of concern for the well-being of all its members. Toward this end, the North Central community has established Cardinal Operation Hope and Help to provide emergency financial support for students with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and educational supplies. To explore details of the program as well as eligibility requirements, please click the above link — and feel free to let me know how I can help you overcome any challenges you are facing.
Zoom Recordings: Class sessions in this course may be recorded in order to provide increased accessibility to course content for all students, including those who have been granted permission to record or require temporary or ongoing remote access. Recorded content may be used like class notes to support learning outcomes for the course, but may not be shared with anyone who is not a registered student in this class. Students may not upload recorded content to file-sharing sites, post them to the web or on social media, provide them to journalists, or use them in any way that has not been specifically approved above.
This gateway course to the History of Ideas program exposes students to some of the most influential texts in world history. We will explore fundamental questions about the human experience by highlighting the various ways that the ancients contemplated the relationship between submission to authority and the pursuit of freedom. You will develop critical thinking and writing skills by engaging in the “close reading” of primary source texts, student-centered class discussions, and writing exercises that will help you develop your own perspectives on the relationship between authority and freedom.
Your final grade will ultimately depend on my assessment of your performance in each of the above areas, though the following descriptions should provide you with a rough idea of the defining characteristics of students within particular grade ranges:
By the end of the course, you will be able to compare and contrast major ideas expressed in texts and/or artistic works that are representative of diverse traditions from the ancient world.
All papers should be submitted on Blackboard/Assignments and must conform to the standards associated with one of the two main writing formats for the humanities: Chicago Style or MLA. References — both direct quotations and indirect references to the ideas of another author — should be properly cited according to the rules of your chosen format and must include page and/or chapter/verse numbers so that the reference can be easily located. The final paper should also include a bibliography with at least three texts from the course and at least one additional secondary source that supports your thesis. Late submissions will be penalized one degree (e.g. A- to B+) per day, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to complete your assignments! If you have any questions regarding what does or does not constitute plagiarism, please refer to the college’s plagiarism policy. Essays that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs. All submitted work may be used (with names removed) for program assessment.
In addition to the MyJournal reading reflections, you will write a more formal 4-page (1000-word) position paper on the assigned reading for a class session that you will select on signupgenius.com. (Since there is only one slot for each class session, you should sign up as soon as possible to maximize your choices.) As with the reading reflections, you should focus on a single issue, but for this assignment you must explore the issue in more depth and develop a “thesis” — the main point that you hope to demonstrate in the body of the paper.
Your paper should begin with an introduction that briefly discusses the issue that you will focus on and then concisely presents your thesis statement. The body of your paper should establish the author’s position on the issue through relevant quotes from the reading as well as your own interpretation of what the author is trying to say. In order to develop a meaningful thesis, however, you must go beyond interpretation by directly engaging the author’s argument: Why is the author’s position significant? Is it supported by sound reasoning? Does it rely on questionable assertions? Are there important factors that the author has not considered? Is there a more coherent perspective on the issue? While it is ultimately up to you to decide how to engage the author’s position, it is essential that your paper develops a particular position on the issue, which should be clearly expressed in your conclusion. Finally, you will make a short (5-10 minute) presentation of your thesis during the class session that you selected on signupgenius.com. For presentation guidelines, see the Class Presentation Rubric below.
Constantine and the Council of Nicaea
We will be devoting three weeks to a role-playing game that focuses on the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. The game is based on the actual Council of Nicaea, which was convened in 325 CE by Emperor Constantine, who was also responsible for ending the brutal persecutation of Christians in the preceding decades. During the game, you will take on the role of an historical bishop or priest who participated in the Council and work with your colleagues to develop the theological foundation of the Catholic Church as well as its organizational structure. This section of the course will be worth 25%, which for most students will be based on two written speeches (worth 10% each) as well as 5% for the quality of your participation in the game.
In order to help you develop an appropriate thesis for your paper, you will submit a 1-page (250-word) topic paper that identifies the issue you wish to explore, presents your thesis statement, and explains how you will use at least three texts from the course and an additional secondary source to support your thesis. For topic paper guidelines, see the Topic Paper Rubric below. Since this paper is worth a significant portion of your final grade (20% for the final paper plus 5% for the topic paper), you should expect to devote a considerable amount of time to this project. Toward this end, I will be happy to meet with you individually to provide further guidance at any stage in the process. For submission and formatting details, see the “Writing Standards” section below.
The Class Participation mark (worth 20% of the final grade) will be based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material. All attempts to seriously engage the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will contribute to your grade. Although your mark will ultimately depend on my subjective evaluation of the quantity and quality of your participation efforts, you may reasonably expect to receive at least a “B” if you attend class regularly and actively participate in class discussions.
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30 ¤ Wednesdays 11:00-12:00 ¤ Thursdays 1:30-3:30 ¤ Fridays (Tea/Talk) 4:30-5:30
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Class Presentation Rubric
Topic Paper Rubric