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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael L. Goldberg
B CUSP 107
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core I: Individuals and Society

Through collaborative and interdisciplinary learning, students develop a knowledge base, skills, habits of inquiry, and imaginative vision. Focuses on individuals, society. Offered: A.

Class description

The Discovery Core seeks to orient students to college-level work generally and the expectations and resources of UW Bothell specifically by engaging a compelling societal problem. For this course, we will be exploring the complex and often contradictory relationship of humans and nature, considering especially the question of costs and benefits. We will start with a question that might appear simple—are humans a part of nature, or separate from it? Ecologically, humans are inarguably a part of larger environmental systems. Yet cognitively, humans usually set themselves apart. As we shall see, the assumptions underlying our answers will open up a series of new and often disturbing questions.

What effect has this division had on issues involving degradation of the larger environment, including global warming, water resources, and species reduction? How has it affected human’s own quality of life as organisms, including health issues (cancer, respiratory illness, pathogens, stress, obesity), interaction with the environment (wilderness, parks, urban/suburban “nature”) and the availability of resources? How have humans benefited from their exploitation of the environment, and is it possible to “innovate” our way out of the problems and avoid sacrificing some of the benefits? And who has gained and who has lost through these interactions, and have the costs and benefits been experienced equally? We live in a time when these are not abstract questions to be pondered; they are problems that are increasingly impacting the way we live in our communities, nation, and world. Part of the course will be devoted to researching ways individuals, institutions and governmental agencies can positively impact the environment. We will be documenting these findings—including our own actions, and their impact—on a course blog.

The basic goal of the course is to provide students with the basic intellectual tools necessary to succeed in college and beyond. In this effort we will be aided by the structure of the course, which combines the Discovery Core course with a composition course. The first will focus on promoting basic skills like note-taking, time management, reading composition, intellectual risk-taking, cooperative learning, critical thinking, information literacy, oral and graphic presentation, problem-solving, and information literacy. The writing assignments from the Composition course will integrate these skills as part of the learning process. The Discovery Core’s online discussion component will provide the opportunity for doing more informal writing that will enhance the Composition course’s more formal writing. This course also benefits from having a small number of students while bringing in guest instructors from different programs and discipline, including Business, Environmental Science, Public Policy and Economics, and Computer Science. Students will be able to develop a comfortable learning community while experiencing a range of teaching styles and interests.

Student learning goals

Acquire basic skills for success as an undergraduate and beyond, including time management, critical reading and note-taking, information literacy, an understanding of campus resources, and initial consideration of career choices, and gain an understanding of the expectations and standards of university-level academic work.

Gain an understanding of the complex relationship between humans and nature and the way it impacts our lives and the diverse communities around the globe.

Gain the capacities needed to identify and analyze interdisciplinary problems using disciplinary approaches and methods.

Gain cooperative learning skills in an academic environment.

Learn to use asynchronous communitcation tools like blogs and web discussion boards in an academic setting.

Spark an excitement for intellectual exploration and communication that will carry over to your future work as an undergraduate and beyond.

General method of instruction

Short lectures, discussions, workshops, and online postings and discussions.

Recommended preparation

None.

Class assignments and grading

Most of the formal writing assignments are part of the Composition course (see CUSP 101). Assignments for this section will include discussion, in-class exercises, group work (including individual assignments for the group and group-member assessed group work), and shorter research and discovvery assignments.

Uses a portfolio approach in which assignments receive feedback throughout, students assess their performance as they go, and a grade is given at the midterm and final period. This approach stresses student improvement and their final demonstration of abilities at the end of the course.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Michael L. Goldberg
Date: 08/07/2007