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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kathleen Noble
H A&S 262
Seattle Campus

World Civilization II

Introduction to ideas and society of civilization other than the Western. Specific civilization (Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, South Asian) differs from year to year and section to section. For university honors students only. Offered: W.

Class description

"The world we have made as a result of the level of the thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level at which we have created them…We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humankind is to survive.” (Albert Einstein)

"We seem to understand consciousness quite well until we are asked about it, and precisely then do we find ourselves confused.” (Harry Hunt)

Course Description: What is consciousness? Where does it come from? Is it dependent on, independent of, or interdependent with physical reality? Why do non-Western wisdom traditions and Western scientific perspectives disagree completely in their ideas about it? Do animals have consciousness? Do plants? What do dreams, intuition, creativity, near death experiences, and placebos tell us about the plasticity and range of consciousness? There are more questions than answers in the study of consciousness, but the questions have powerful implications for us all.

Student learning goals

To explore the emerging field of consciousness studies from psychological, anthropological, and scientific perspectives.

To gain exposure to diverse, often contradictory ideas about consciousness and reality and increase your ability to think, write, and converse about these ideas.

To better understand your own beliefs about consciousness and reality and develop skills of self-reflection, introspection, and contemplation.

General method of instruction

Guided class discussion. Students are expected to read each text carefully and come prepared for rigorous class discussion. We’ll be using both subjective and objective methods in this course. That means that personal experiences are as important to the study of consciousness as are the readings.

Recommended preparation

Many of the ideas we’ll be exploring in this class are controversial and will likely challenge some of your deepest beliefs. To be successful, students must bring – and keep – an open mind, an attitude of respect, cooperation, and respect for each other and for multiple points of view, and a passion for inquiry. This class is a learning community for which each participant is responsible. You must be willing to challenge yourself to think in new ways and be open to perspectives that might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable. And you must help to create a safe environment in which everyone is encouraged to participate and learn.

Class assignments and grading

I. Reading: Written materials will introduce students to scholarship about consciousness and ideas about reality. Please give them your careful, thoughtful attention and take notes so that you can participate in lively, intellectually stimulating classroom conversations (and, of course, do well in the midterms).

II. Writing: Private Journal [10 points]: Once a week (or more, if you like) write 1-2 pages (or more if you like) reflecting on your thoughts as you read the course material, think about the issues, and engage in class discussions. Your reflections can and should be incorporated in your response papers and the final essay. (2) Final Essay [20 points.] 10 pages (about 2700 words), typed, double-spaced, 12 point font. This essay will integrate the thoughts that you recorded in your journals with the material we read and discussed throughout the class. I want to know what you think and what you learned from your own reflections, your classmates’ comments, and the authors’ points of view. The theme of the essay is up to you.

III. Class Discussion: [10 Points]: Your reading should prepare you to participate in a stimulating, productive exchange of ideas. Please come to each class prepared to discuss specific questions, problems, and/or ideas that were raised by the readings, and to listen actively and respectfully to other students.

IV. 2 Midterms [20 points each]. Each midterm will be 50 minutes long and cover separate material.

IV. Small Group Project and Presentations [20 points]: Working in groups of 5 students, explore an aspect of consciousness that we haven’t discussed at all – or fully – in class. Each group will choose a theme and present a 50 minute class session around that theme during the last two weeks of the quarter. Each group must also prepare a one-page handout summarizing the presentation to be distributed to the class and that describes each member’s contribution. Be scholarly but feel free to play and be creative.

To determine your final grade for the class, add up the total number of points and divide by 25.

I will use the following criteria to grade your final essay.

A/A+ (18-20 points): Your paper is excellent: focused, analytical, and insightful. Your writing is organized, clear, grammatically correct, and you integrate details from the texts and your own reflections.

B/B+ (14-17 points): Your paper shows evidence of thought and some intellectual engagement with the material, but tends toward generalization. You need to pay more attention to grammar, organization, and/or textual details.

C/C+ (10-13 points): Your paper is largely a book report and shows little evidence of intellectual engagement with the material. Your writing needs improvement in terms of grammar, organization, spelling, and/or details from the texts.

D/D+ (6-9 points): Your paper is superficial or polemical. Your writing is poor.

F (0 points): You fail to turn in a paper or one that is acceptable.


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 Kathleen Noble
Date: 01/02/2008