Course Description Archive 08 -09

First-Year Seminar Descriptions, 2008-2009

FIRST-YEAR PRECEPTORIAL

Sections offered 2008-2009

1.The Individual

The course will focus on the individual.  The first part, which is more personal in nature, will explore one’s progress through life and its stages: the discovery of the self in childhood and through its memories, the family unit, relationships, love, sex, marriage, and finally death.  The second will address the confrontation between the individual and the universe as manifested by the Big Bang, faith, reason, randomness, and freedom.  These topics will be viewed from several points of reference. Readings include

Annie Dillard,  An American Childhood,  James Baldwin, Go Tell it on the Mountain,  Jane Smiley, The Age of Grief,  as well as Freud, the Tao Te Ching, and the Koran.

2. Learning from our Differences

 What is it like to see the world differently, to process information differently, to not be in step with the vast majority of people ? Learning to understand differences in others and to appreciate and learn from these differences is more important than ever in today’s world. In this course students will learn to recognize and evaluate their own attitudes toward disability and those who may appear to be “different” in some way. While the main focus will be on disabilities, some of the course materials will look at other types of differences that can cause people to feel like an outsider. Students will develop a better understanding of various disabilities, especially the hidden or invisible ones and in the process they will learn their own learning styles and reflect on the way they view not only the world and others, but themselves. Through appreciating the different challenges individuals face we gain an appreciation of the fact that everyone can be a valued contributor to society and that it is these differences which can enrich communities such as Union College. Possible readings include : The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time  by Mark Haddon, An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks, and Thinking in Pictures (My Life with Autism) by Temple Grandin. Besides readings there will be films (including Today’s Man, a recent PBS documentary on autism), active learning and group exercises, and individualized research projects.

3. Laughter and Literature at Wit's End

American philosopher Suzanne Langer describes comedy as "an image of human vitality holding its own in the world amid the surprises of unplanned coincidence."  German philosopher Helmuth Plessner argues that man's inherently comic nature is the result of doubled nature; he is both entwined in the world, subject to social order, and "eccentric" to it, forever seeking his freedom and clashing with social norms.  In this course we will examine the extremes of the human condition through a comic lens.  Placing psychoanalytic, anthropological, and philosophic observations next to works of literature, we will ask what special insights might emerge from reading twentieth century texts that portray comic visions of colliding horizons, clashing perspectives, social disorder, and, of course, people at their wit's end.  Readings may include Kurt Vonnegut'sSlaughterhouse-Five, Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Merle Hodge's Crick Crack Monkey, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, and excerpts from Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men, and Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics.

4. On the Outside

 Society emphasizes conformity. The way we perceive and understand the world around us is strongly influenced by this fact and, for many of us, this conformity is reflected in our “ways of knowing” and perceiving of others.  One of the main goals of a liberal arts education is to learn to understand and analyze complex issues from a variety of perspectives and to learn to be more understanding of those who are different from us. This seminar will consider the perspective of those who are on the “outside”, either by choice, whether politically or artistically, or through circumstances beyond their control, such as social status, poverty or a disability. How is someone’s perception of the world altered when they are outside of the mainstream ? What are the forces leading individuals to new insights and discoveries which, of necessity, will challenge the status quo?

Are we all to one extent or the other “on the outside” ?

A variety of readings, both fiction and non-fiction, addressing issues of diversity, society, and music and art will introduce students to the breadth of the liberal arts curriculum. This will include the fiction of Cormac McCarthy  and William Gay, the poetry of Langston Hughes, and An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks.  Seminar meetings will also discuss the music of John Coltrane and the art of Jackson Pollock.

5. Italy, Fascism and Jews

Mussolini marched on Rome in 1922 with a group of militant Black Shirt fascists. What happened before and after this historic moment is the subject of this seminar.  How did Mussolini take over the government? The Fascist Regime lasted twenty-two years. What kind of consensus sustained the administration? Italian Jews were an integral part of the political process until the Racial Laws in 1938; but who are Italy’s Jews? We explore the history and culture (ghetto life, holidays, and cuisine) of Italian Jews from the first colony in Rome until the end of World War II. Historical texts (Mark Robson. Italy: The Rise of Fascism 1915-45), novels (Giorgio Bassani, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), memoirs (Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz), and films (“Paper Clips,” “The Conformist,”  “Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” “Paisà”) uncover different perspectives on the rise and fall of Fascism, anti-Semitism, and the survival of Italy and the Italian Jewish community

6. Good and Evil

This course examines literary and philosophical discourses from both Western and Eastern traditions on the relationship of good and evil, the problem and meaning of suffering, religion and spirituality, morality and ethics, and war and atrocity in our contemporary world.  Texts include Thomas Merton’s The Way of Chuang Tzu, The Book of Job, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Call Me By My True Names Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. 

7. Innocence and Experience:  The Storyteller's Art

This course will explore the ways we come to understand the meaning of “innocence” and “experience” as they are revealed in the “storytelling” of selected fiction writers, personal essayists, poets and visual artists, singers, film makers. We will consider such subjects as how storytelling “truth” relates to “happening truth”; why stories are told; the relationship of story to ritual; the nature of ceremonies; stories as ways of expressing personal, family, and public histories; the ways visual art and illustration can change written art; the ways musical art can change written art; the role of tragedy in storytelling; the role of humor in storytelling; the role of lies in storytelling; the ways stories define and are defined by one’s culture. Throughout, the themes that link the tales we’ll explore will be the nature of innocence and experience, and the relationship of one to the other.

Readings will be selected from  works by William Blake (Songs of Innocence and Experience), Peter Godwin (When A Crocodile Eats the Sun), Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon) Barbara Myerhoff (Number Our Days), Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried), Shakespeare (King Lear), Jordan Smith (The Names of Things Are Leaving), Leslie Silko (Ceremony), Graham Swift (Waterland), Tobias Wolff (This Boy's Life), selected poems by Seamus Heaney, Robert Lowell, Syliva Plath, Theodore Roethke, William Carlos Williams, songs by Greg Brown, Bob Dylan.

8. Airports, Tourists, and Borders

The course invites students to engage on a critical exploration through spaces and attitudes affecting our new world order: globalization, migration and immigration, nationalisms, transnational subjects, border demarcations, and cultural identity.  The texts and films selected  -by authors from the United States, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Antigua, Thailand, France, Mexico, and Haiti - are meant to serve as platforms from which we will depart on a critical reflection about what does it entail to be a global citizen.

9. Imperial America

Much is made of the impact of empires on the history and development of international society. From the Romans to the British, we have come to view empires as historical curiosities studied as much for their role in shaping international politics, as for their often violent collapses. This course seeks to examine the current 'Pax Americana' in the context of the history of empires to ascertain whether or not the US is now an empire, how its hegemonic role in the international system affects the system as a whole, and what constitutes threats to the US position and interests in the near future? Readings will include Thucydides, Robert Gilpin, and Alexander Motyl as sources of theoretical understandings of empires, while Paul Kennedy and Niall Ferguson represent more practical examinations of the 'US empire'.

10. Writing & the Criticism of Culture 

In this section of FYP we will take a look at the way writers have used a variety of means and genres to take the measure of the successes and limitations of their cultures.  We will consider works of fiction as well as personal essays, journalism, and some works that blur these borders.  Authors will include Joan Didion, Sherman Alexie, George Orwell, Nat Hentoff, Bruce Chatwin, and Denis Covington.

11. Literature, Ethics, and Environment

This course will focus on the intersections of human cultures and environment, with an emphasis on the social and cultural dynamics of the environment and environmental action.  Some questions we will consider in the course:  What are the ethical questions that we pose and wrestle with as we interact with and within our environment? What is the place of literature in community, literacy, and environmental activism?  To what extent does place matter in our conceptions of what nature is? What are the connections between race, class, and environmental degradation and environmental activism?  How does gender enter into the nexus of social interactions that shape our environment?  To what extent are humans ethically responsible for non-human nature?  How does the practice of careful observation lead us toward ethical practices? We will consider both the concept of “nature” as we consider the concept of human culture.  This course is collaborative in nature, and as such students should bring their interests, curiosities, and discoveries to add to the mix.

A partial list of readings may include those by Terry Tempest Williams, Barbara Kingsolver, Evelyn White, bell hooks, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Luther Standing Bear, Running-Grass, Simon Ortiz, Ana Castillo, Vandana Shiva, Wangari Maathai, Aldo Leopold, Robert Sullivan, Andrew Light, Holmes Rolston.

12. Meanings of Life

Taking for granted that we all live in a real world governed by universal natural laws, we can nonetheless agree that human beings have often differed over how to understand what our senses tell us about that world.  Explanations for the way the world works and the meaning of life have differed over time and by place, depending on cultural values and technological abilities to extend our senses.

This section of First Year Precept will explore a variety of perspectives that have been found useful in giving meaning to life, looking first at faith as a source of understanding.  We will then examine "truths" to be gained from art and fiction via written, visual, and aural sources.  The course will conclude with the insights of reason and science that have transformed the ways we think about life since c. 1600. Readings will include the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, Freud on religion, Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughter House Five, Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Joseph Amato, Dust: a History of the Small & the Invisible, James Watson, The Double Helix, and Albert Camus, The Plague. We will also make use of visual and aural sources.

13. Creativity and Culture

Contemporary artists often cultivate attitudes of detachment from and critique of society. A lingering cliche imagines an artist laboring in obscurity in a garret, but a few achieve the kind of celebrity and notoriety more typically associated with rock stars. This course will look at ways in which artists' roles reflect their times, and ways those roles are defined by different societies and the artists themselves. We will read historical and philosophical documents by Plato, Vasari and Michelangelo; literature reflecting on the experience of making art by the Romantic poets, Henry James, James Joyce and Henry Miller. Journals and criticism by artists like Willelm de Kooning, David Smith and David Wojnarowicz will give a perspective from inside the creative process. By looking at Jackson Pollock's painting, listening to readings of William Burroughs and the music of John Coltrane, we'll explore links between literary, visual and performance arts. In the end we will draw some conclusions regarding creativity and the zeitgeist

14.  Narrative Gaps

“Tell a little and he is Hamlet; tell all and he is nothing.”      W.B. Yeats

This course studies ‘stories’ where we do not at first sight see them and where we need to imagine them in order to understand significant parts of a given text.  We will look at narrative practice from a variety of viewpoints, discovering how it works perhaps most strongly where important parts of a story are missing.  Student essays will develop interpretive stores as bases of their analytical essays about the following texts: Baghavad Gita; Genesis; Hamlet; 8 Modern Essayists; Beloved;  Wonderful Words…  and Selected Poems by Charles Simic.

15. DREAM CAFÉ : Viewing Culture through Dreams

How do we define ourselves through dreams?  How do artistic and literary representations of dreams speak to our communal understanding?  Are the archetypes of our dreams universal?  How do artists shape dreams to reflect culture?  We’ll look at dreams through the eyes of writers, artists, playwrights, film makers.  We’ll view different cultures through the medium of dreams.  We’ll research the science of dream theory and look at how the psychology of dreams has shaped how we view dreams.  Course readings and writings will encourage critical evaluation of these questions on a personal, individual basis and on a communal, reflective level.  Resources will likely  include Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried,  Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams,  Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame, the paintings of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Paul Klee and others, and films of Ingmar Bergman, Peter Weir and others.

16. Living through Troubling Times

We'll take a close look at how people deal with the big and little disasters of life by examining works of literature from as far back as ancient China (Tao Te Ching) and ancient Rome (Golden Ass of Apuleius).  Winnie the Pooh turns out to be a model Taoist who lets his life be guided by the Tao Te Ching, while the Romans either let their lives be ruled by Fortune or turned to one of many religions available to people in the second century AD.  Boccaccio's Decameron gives us entertaining insight into how people dealt with the Black Death in Florence in the fourteenth century.  The short stories of Raymond Carver  show how easy it is to be overwhelmed by in the modern world and the dangers of isolation, while the contemporary David Sedaris offers humorous takes on serious problems like death and political correctness.

17. Human Rights and Human Wrongs

What are our basic rights as human beings?  Are certain human rights universal?  Who decides?  Can we agree on them?  Do we need to?  Does it matter?   Will it make any difference in reducing the wide-scale abuses of rights?  What helps to promote and protect human rights, whether in our everyday lives or globally?  This course will center on the concept of human rights in a global world.   As a class, we will read and discuss various works of fiction and nonfiction related to issues of human rights.  Drawing upon these texts, students will enter the debate, making claims about the issues and supporting them with evidence. 

18. Initiations: Discoveries of the Self, Society and the Sacred

How do we come to know who we are and what we believe?  How do our families affect our boundaries--what we will and will not do? What does "family" mean? What are the events, both subtle and ritualized, that initiate us into the many societies into which we are born or with which we eventually have significant contact? What does "reality" mean, and how do we construct and determine our own realities based on perceptions of self, society and the sacred (and/or the profane)?

We will explore the development of selfhood and of familial and social relationships in poetry, fiction, drama, sacred texts, and film. Approximately three weeks of the course will be devoted to exploring relationships between the human and the spiritual/divine, as seen in the Bible and other works.  The film The Matrix and will be considered in relation to Buddhism and Christianity. The Japanese anime Spirited Away will be discussed in the context of the Shinto religion.  The film (and perhaps the book) Dead Man Walking will be considered in the context of legal, social and religious issues.  Students will write several essays, give at least one oral report, and take a final exam.

Possible texts include: Handouts of poetry; Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"; Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Sophocles, Oedipus the King (trans. Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics); The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (King James Version); Alter, ed., Genesis (Norton); Vea, Gods Go Begging.

19. Cybercultures

 

This course will examine the impact of the Internet, cyberspace and virtual reality on the way the world is inhabited, perceived and represented. Paying attention to issues such as subjectivity and embodiment, we will be considering the transformative effect cyberspace has on conventional readings of the self, as well as traditional understandings of space and time. Questions will be asked concerning operations of power and the ways in which cyberspaces and their cultural representations can operate to both subvert as well as uphold normative structures, looking specifically as issues relating to gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and class. We will be looking at a variety of texts throughout this course, online and offline, fiction, non-fiction and film. Readings may include authors such as William Gibson, Donna Haraway, Sherry Turkle and Slavoj Zizek and films such as The Net, Hackers and The Matrix Trilogy.

20. The Horror of Writing

The Horror of Writing focuses on reading and writing about Gothic Romance and Horror fiction.  From the first Gothic novel (Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto) to modern horror “classics” (such as Stoker’s Dracula), we will come to understand how and why these texts “made the cut.”  What makes these works so popular? To whom do they appeal and why?  If fear and its relation to power (and lack thereof) in women is part of the answer to these questions, we will consider why this is so and how we may continue to live in a culture that fosters and then seeks to neutralize its own fears. In order to address the questions above, we will consider critical material from a variety of disciplines alongside our primary texts.  In addition to being a forum for discussion, this course is designed to help you improve your reading, writing, and analytical skills and understand what it means to write three different types of  “college-level essays.”  We will devote both class time and individual conference sessions to this goal.

21. Secular Humanism

 The modern western tradition of rejecting faith in the supernatural and replacing it with "this-worldly"values. Beginning with Immanuel Kant's essay, "What is Enlightenment?" we'll survey the work of some leading figures of the kind of thinking usually called liberal or radical: David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Peter Singer; and we'll reflect on the many social and political implications of their revolutionary ideas.

22. Constructing the Self

What is the Self? What makes everyone unique? What do we all have in common?
This section of the Preceptorial will bring together philosophy, psychology,  biology, cognitive science,  gender studies, literature, linguistics,  and the latest findings of genetics to explore the complexities of the Self.  Students will watch movies and read essays about consciousness , free will, sexuality, religion, and  artificial intelligence.  The course  will be intensive, with two research papers and  weekly quizzes on the reading.  Regular attendance and constructive participation will be required of all students.

The reading list will include Susan Blackmore's provocative Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction,  Sci Fi short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin and Stanislaw Lem, as well as fantasy fiction by Jorge Louis Borges, among others.

23. Goodness, Happiness and Truth

We will spend the term looking at several different ways of thinking about three central ideals toward which (I propose) human beings strive: goodness, happiness, and truth.  Presumably, we all want to be good, happy, and believe what is true --- and avoid being bad, unhappy, and believing in falsities.  Different people, and different cultures, however, give quite different understandings of the nature of goodness, happiness and truth, and different advice on how to achieve them.  Does being good make you happy, or is it easier to reach happiness by throwing off moral restrictions?  Is there any objective moral truth, and, if not, why be moral? Are these ideals real or, as some claim, are they illusions, which serve only to enslave us. We will examine how some key philosophers, political theorists, and psychologists have answered these questions (e.g., Freud, Plato, postmodernists, Buddhism, evolutionary psychology). For each ideal, we will examine what might be built into our biology (human nature) and also the influence of social organization (culture) on our conceptions of goodness, happiness and truth.

24. The Other: A Stranger Among Us ?

In this course we will discuss the concept of the "other" by examining several narratives centered upon the protagonist's search for identity.  Invariably authors introduce these quests through the rhetorical device of the stranger.  We will consider the image of the stranger in order to confront the estrangement inherent in family origins, gender and literary acceptance, and the author's unresolved feelings about him(her)self. Frequently the associations of a sense of place are bound together with memory, stasis and nostalgia.  What gives a place a unique flavor is the fact that it is constructed out of a specific arrangement of social and physical relations that intersect at a particular point.  The works selected center on the theme of alienation seen through the eyes of the stranger. We will discuss the function of this trope on three levels - the spatial, temporal and psychological. Of particular interest will be the disturbing 'falling away' from the family or group, and the movement from unity and acceptance to individuality and denial. Through a close reading of works including, but not limited to: Balzac's The Unknown Masterpiece, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Woolf's A Room of One's Own, Camus' The Stranger, Morrison's Song of Solomon and Petrushevskaia's The Time Night, we will seek to understand the way one is able to construct and manipulate his/her own sense of place.

25. Radical Thinkers

This course surveys the work of some eloquent advocates of ideas that in one way or another attack the foundations of traditional Western culture.  Our readings will include writers such as Rousseau, who argues that civilization has led not to progress but to the moral debasement of the human species; Friedrich Nietzsche, who assaults (among other things) Judeo-Christian theology and ethics, rejects every form of metaphysics, and substitutes “perspectivism” for eternal truth; Sigmund Freud, who argues that the price of order and civilization is the purposeful mutilation of our instinctual desire; and Karl Marx, who attacks capitalism and calls upon the poor to revolt and establish a communist society.  We will also look at feminist writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Susan Faludi, who consider the myriad ways men oppress women and offer thorough-going alternatives; queer theorists such as Judith Butler and Adrienne Rich, who explore heterosexuality as a social construction.  Other writers may include Peter Singer, who champions animal liberation, vegetarianism, and voluntary euthanasia, while charging that all excess wealth is criminal; Reg Morrison, who traces all our environmental crises to destructive (and probably irreversible) overreaching by a demented “plague species” (humans); Christopher Clausen, who insists that we are living in a “post-cultural” age and mocks the current American obsession with cultural diversity; and, Sherwin Nuland, who debunks the myth of “death with dignity” with a chillingly detailed account of what actually goes on in American hospitals and ICUs.  Students will be asked, not to agree with the often jolting and unexpected stands of these “extremists,” but to explain and defend their own views in the light of our authors’ radical insights

26. Politics and the Novel

Stendahl observed in The Charterhouse of Parma that “politics in a work of literature are like a pistol-shot in the middle of a concert, something loud and vulgar yet a thing to which it is not possible to refuse one’s attention.”  Yet one of the most effective ways to trace and analyze forms of political organization and their impact on individuals is through imaginative fiction.  In the 20th century in particular, novelists have constructed narratives around the great political themes of our time:  communism, fascism, socialism, and democracy.  In this Preceptorial we will read, discuss, and write about novels by such authors as Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, Arthur Koestler, George Orwell, Robert Penn Warren, and Alan Paton, as well as selected historical and political works that provide necessary background.  Several excellent films have also been produced based on some of these novels; we will view and discuss two or three of them.  Appropriate attention will be given to the historical background of the novels.  There will be special emphasis on writing techniques and skills.

27. Poop and Poison: What We Eat and What We Are

We may be the first culture ever to destroy itself by what and how we eat.  Tomatoes that feel and taste like softballs.  Meat marbled with hormones and chemicals.  Frozen foods manufactured in factories in the Third World, flavored by chemists in New Jersey, and bulging waistlines and stopping hearts in the suburbs. We’ll read about how Jefferson’s dream of an agrarian republic has turned into a consumer emporium of both abundance and toxicity.  We’ll try to be balanced and look at arguments and taste food from both sides, but a fresh, organic meal or two may drive economic logic to the side.  Students will also have the opportunity to help out with Union’s new organic garden and get their hands really dirty and calloused. We may take some side trips into rural culture (pickup trucks, country and bluegrass music, and the like) as well.  All that and learning how to read critically and write well, too.

28. The Rise of the Ethnic-American Gangster

Looking through a psycho-socio-historical lens, we will examine the ways in which marginalized immigrant groups within the United States have attempted to subvert capitalist power structures via organized criminal activity. Beginning with the 19th century and concluding with contemporary gang activity, we will read about the rise of the Irish Gangster, Sicilian Cosa Nostra, Japanese Yakuza, Russian Mafiya, Mexican L eMe, and the Central American Mara Salvatrucha, among others. Readings will be comprised of poetry and fiction, critical studies of the culture of criminality, and journal articles, such as Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York, Mario Puzo's The Last Don, James Diego Vigil's A Rainbow of Gangs: Street Cultures in the Mega-City, Monica Brown's Gang Nation: Delinquent Citizens of Puerto Rican, Chicano, and Chicana Narratives, and Afaa Michael Weaver's selected poetry and short fiction.

29. Legal Cultures

 In this course we will discuss basic questions about crime, punishment, and the law.  Beginning from the ancient Greeks, we will consider connections between justice and the law, and between the individual and the state, and explore the tensions that arise when these come into conflict.  Our texts will be primarily philosophical and literary, including Sophocles' Antigone, Aeschylus' Oresteia, and selections from Plato.  Modern texts we will read include Beccaria's On Crimes and Punishments, Kafka's Trial and David Garland's Culture of Control.  We will also view and discuss films that attempt to reimagine legal culture, such as Welles' version of Kafka's Trial and Spielberg's Minority Report. 

30. Poetic Vision & Social Responsibility

W.H. Auden wrote at the dawn of World War II that “poetry makes nothing happen,” while Percy Bysshe Shelley asserted that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” This course sets out to explore the connections between poetic vision and social responsibility in order to investigate the role, if any, that poetry has in the modern world. Contemporary society is often characterized as being fractured and fragmented. Our own isolation and estrangement from nature, from society and from each other often leaves us feeling powerless to affect change. We distance ourselves further from life by objectifying and thus reducing everything, even people, to numbers and things: victims of war are presented as statistics, and we are numbed to individual realities of unspeakable suffering and grief. Yet it is believed that when the spirit of poetry lives within us, objects no longer appear merely as things. Through the eyes of a poet, one can rediscover a sense of our humanity and awaken to a shared responsibility in the goings-on in our world. Readings for this course will include a study of the mythology, stories, and writings by Dante, Plato, Einstein, D.H. Lawrence, Leslie Marmon Silko, Goethe, Neruda, Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali, Handke, Wolf, Mandela, Whitman, Borges, Rilke, Brecht, Victor Frankl, Toni Morrison, Daisaku Ikeda, Gandhi, Joseph Campbell, and others.

31. Media Accuracy, Credibility, Fairness, and Reliability

According to a published report by The American Society of Newspaper Editors, “78 percent of U.S. adults believe there’s bias in the news media.” 1

As citizens and future leaders, our students will be better equipped to protect great values such as democracy, civil liberties, peace and justice if they are well informed.  

In order to carry on their social responsibilities, our students ought to be able to critically evaluate the information they get through the media: Radio, TV, Internet, Movies, Books, Newspapers, and Magazines.

In this course, the students will have :  an increased awareness of inaccuracies in the media and will be provided tools to search for more balanced opinions and perspectives; be inspired to critically reflect on increasingly complex social, political, and cultural issues; learn how to read between the lines and form their own independent opinion despite the proliferation of media outlets;  be better prepared to identify WMD (Weapons of Mass Distraction) and stay clear of them.