RSP 104-HC: Introduction to the Culture of Collegiate Life
Fall2008 Wed. 4:30–5:20 pm HC 315
Prof. Stephens (stphns
at creighton dot edu)
Decurion: Adam Karnik (aek45032 at creighton dot edu)
Beadle: Hilary Wething
office hours: Mon. 1:30 – 2 pm; Tues. Wed. Thurs. 11
am – 12 noon; Tues. 3:30
– 4 pm; and by appointment
office: HC 116 phone (
This is one of three courses in Creighton’s Ratio Studiorum Program (meaning “plan of study”) which introduces frosh students in the Honors Program to life at the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences. It examines key elements of collegiate life. These elements include (a) the meaning and value of a liberal arts education, (b) the University’s Jesuit, Catholic history and key Ignatian values, and (c) the vocational aspirations and challenges common to all frosh. Students will learn about the College’s culture of scholarship and academic integrity. The book we will read together and discuss is Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2007) ISBN 0-312-34729-4. We will also learn some basic deductive logic.
Students will engage in self-exploration and self-discovery, including awareness of and appreciation for their differences in ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status.
Students will explore the University’s Jesuit, Catholic history and understand key Igantian values integral to the liberal arts education promulgated by the College.
Students will be able to articulate the College’s Six Learning Outcomes.
Students will understand the plan of study required of students in the Honors Program and the degree programs (Major, Minor, etc.) offered in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students will apply this knowledge through the use of the Banner Student Self-Service system.
Students will demonstrate awareness of issues concerning (a) alcohol abuse, (b) personal relationships as they affect one’s studies, and (c) mental health.
Students will examine integrity in both their academic and residential lives and they will understand the University and College policies and procedures on academic honesty and discipline (sanctions).
Students will learn about the special opportunities for study (e.g. study abroad, faculty-led summer programs abroad, service learning, Encuentro Dominicano, service break trips, and transient study).
Course Requirements and Grading
|Attendance (one unexcused absence permitted)||0–10 pts.|
|Two Advising Sessions: #1 = 0–5 pts. #2 with Two-Year Plan: 0–5 pts.||0–10 pts.|
|Co-Curricular Participation (0–5 pts.
Major/Minor Exploration Fair Nov. 5
Obstacle to Learning Presentation: Alcohol Abuse Sept. 8
Obstacle to Learning: Relationships or Mental Health Oct. 2
Private Tour of the Joslyn Museum Nov. 15
| 0–20 pts.
|Paper on The World Without Us (due Dec. 3; 1400–1600 words)||0–40 pts.|
|Quizzes and discussion||0–20 pts.|
A = 90–100 pts.
B+ = 87–89 pts.
B = 80–86 pts.
C+ = 77–79 pts.
C = 70–76 pts.
D = 60–69 pts.
F = below 60 pts.
Attendance: It’s mandatory. Punctuality is also expected. Students are allowed ONE unexcused absence. Each unexcused absence beyond one earns typically a five (5) point deduction (determined by the Preceptor’s discretion).
Academic Honesty: All violations of the University Policy on academic honesty will receive a grade of zero (0) for the assignment.
Class Cancellation: Students will be notified by the Faculty Preceptor either through BlueLine or email to their Creighton accounts.
Make-Up: If extenuating circumstances prevent a student from completing an assignment on time or attending an event, that student can make a case to the Preceptor that he or she should be allowed to make up that missed assignment or event. At the Preceptor’s discretion, the make-up can be arranged. The paper on The World Without Us cannot be made up, as it is due at the end of the semester. The paper must be submitted on time in the specified form to receive points for that course component.
Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2007) ISBN 0-312-34729-4.
Our classroom is a community of thinkers cooperating in face to face intellectual inquiry. Consequently, the purpose of being in class is to pay close attention to the lecture and discussion and to participate in the discussion. Taking notes on paper during class is very strongly recommended. Use of electronic devices in class is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. These devices include laptop computers, handheld computers, iPods, Blackberries, cameras, audio recorders, cell phones, and similar devices. If you choose to bring such devices to the classroom, they are to be safely stored away and kept off during class.
I will give a quiz whenever I want to. A quiz may be on that day’s reading assignment or material presented in a previous class or that day’s class (e.g. logic).
The paper should 1400 to 1600 words in length, not counting the words on the cover page or the bibliography page. The paper should have a cover page. On the cover page print (a) a clever and apt title, (b) your name, (c) the name and section of this course, (d) the Preceptor’s name, (e) the date you are submitting the paper, and (f) the word count of the body of the paper. The body of the paper are the pages underneath the cover page. The pages of the body should be number 1, 2, and so forth. The introductory paragraph at the top of page one should contain a clear and explicit thesis statement. After the introductory paragraph, present your argument in support of your thesis. Your thesis should be an original insight about one or more ideas in The World Without Us (TWWU). I encourage you to make use of the library resources for the book.
Papers must be well-focused. The thesis should be clearly stated in bold-face in the introductory paragraph. Paragraphs should be logically connected and the conclusion well-substantiated. Works cited should be listed on a separate page at the end (after the body of the paper). Writing should be concise and clear, enabling the reader to follow the argument easily. The paper should be free of spelling and other mechanical errors.
For help finding information specific to your paper topic, go to http://reinert.creighton.edu/services/instruction/rap/rap.htm and complete the form with details of your paper assignment. Our terrific librarians can then assist you.
First, the ideas you present and the arguments you advance must be your own. So USE THE FIRST PERSON. When you draw on other sources, whether Weisman’s book, his sources, or sources you found in doing your research, then you must give credit where credit is due. It is perfectly fine if, after you have informed yourself about what somebody else says about your topic, you decide to agree with that person, but you must explicitly state whose idea you are affirming. Failure to refer to the source of the idea you print in your paper is plagiarism.
Secondly, your professor doesn’t want you merely to report on what other people think about your topic anyway. The thesis of your thesis paper must be what you really think. After all, your professor knows what Weisman thinks about the world after human beings are gone. What your professor does not know is what you think about the topic in Weisman’s book which you have chosen to explore, and what your reasons are for thinking that way. So be sure to write only what you really believe, and explain why you believe those things. If you say what you believe but don’t explain why, then you are sincerely voicing your opinion, but not writing a thesis paper. Your thesis paper is your exploration, analysis, and evaluation of an intellectually interesting subject touched upon in The World Without Us. It is not a book report. So concentrate on presenting your own arguments and don’t merely report someone else’s arguments or voice your unexamined, unsupported opinions. Present the research you have done in a digested form, with your considered comments, thoughtful reflections, and careful evaluations of what others have written about your chosen topic.
Remember that what you are trying to do is persuade the reader that there are good reasons for believing that your thesis is true. You do this by examining the concepts involved, weighing evidence for and against your thesis, and logically assessing reasons. Feelings have nothing to do with inquiring into an intellectual issue. For one thing, your professor has no way of grading your feelings. For example, don’t fall into the very common habit of writing things like: “Weisman feels that nature is resilient” or “I feel that the over-chill theory is questionable.” People feel hot or cold, bored or excited, happy or sad. A thesis paper is about reasoned chains of thought, substantiated judgments, and arguments based on research. It is emphatically not about feelings. “I feel that...” is unacceptably subjective. In contrast, “I argue that...” implies that there are objective grounds for the author’s position. So think clearly and reason logically in writing your paper. Don’t feel your way through it. This is a thesis paper, not a diary or a love letter, so DON'T USE THE VERB "FEEL" when you should instead say “think,” “believe,” “judge,” or “argue.”
In your introductory paragraph you should:
If you want to, you can also state the two or three main reasons (which you will expound on at length in the body of your paper) which support your thesis. If you choose to do this, do it briefly. Your introductory paragraph should be no longer than a third of a page.
A large part of improving your writing skills is learning how to use words with greater precision and subtlety. One type of imprecise claim is the overgeneralization. Claims like “All people know so and so” and “Every society is such and such” are most probably false. It takes only one counterexample to refute a hastily made, broad generalization, so be very careful about making universal claims. A more accurate claim might be “Most people know so and so” or “Many societies are such and such.” Remember that for an argument to be cogent all of its premises must be true, or at least acceptable. If your argument contains even one false or questionable generalization, then it will not be cogent.
Even qualified claims that assert that “Most A’s are B’s” need to be supported by some kind of evidence. If you claim that “Most people rarely think much about the environment,” then you need to cite some kind of evidence of this. Your paper is an argumentative essay aimed at persuading the reader to believe your thesis. Your arguments should not rest on shaky, generalized, questionable speculations. Your goal is to convince the reader what the reader ought to believe (on the basis of the reasons and researched evidence you present).
The print should be sufficiently dark and distinct. Don’t frustrate your professor with faint print. You want to make the paper easy to read, not difficult to read. Therefore, don’t hesitate to put a new cartridge into your printer if the print is not dark and clear.
Font and Line Spacing
Use an easily legible12 pitch font. Using larger pitch (10 or fewer characters per inch) is another formatting trick which will not fool your professor. The entire text of your paper should be double-spaced except for block quotations (see below). Don’t triple or quadruple space between paragraphs since this another waste of space and paper.
Your top, bottom, left, and right hand margins should all be one inch wide. Margins wider than that are a waste of space and a waste of paper. Margins narrower than that make it difficult for your professor to write comments beside the text. If your paper is too short (i.e. is fewer than 1400 words), then devote your energy to thinking about your topic more instead of trying to disguise your paper so that it looks longer than it really is.
“Quote” is a verb. Researchers quote various authors. “Quotation” is a noun. Quotations which are longer than three lines should be set off in single-spaced block paragraphs. The following is an example of such a quotation.
Compare writing an essay with riding in an automobile. If a passenger does not know the destination, it will be difficult for him to remember the roads he has taken. If, on the other hand, the destination is known, then every left and right turn, every sign and traffic signal, is organized in relation to that destination. (A. P. Martinich, Philosophical Writing. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1989. p.32)
Notice that there are no quotation marks around this direct quotation. That is because the single-spacing of the block paragraph format indicates that it is a direct quotation, so no additional punctuation is needed.
Quotations which are three lines or shorter should be put within double quotation marks like this: “Do not confuse rhetorical pyrotechnics for philosophical light” (A. P. Martinich, Philosophical Writing. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1989. p. 33). Notice that the period is inserted after the citation, and not inside the last quotation mark. Be alert: don’t make this common mistake. If you directly quote a passage which contains a word or phrase which itself appears within quotation marks in the text, then you should put single quotation marks around that embedded phrase, and double quotation marks around the whole quoted passage.
References and Notes
Follow Turabian, The Chicago Manual of Style, or The MLA Citation Style. The choice is yours, but be consistent for all your references and the bibliography.
A paper without a title is like a child without a name. The title should give the reader a good idea about the content of your paper. It should be specific, not something like “Nature” or “Megafauna” or “The World Without Us.” Use your imagination and make it clever. Finding an appropriate title for your paper can be a fun, creative process, so enjoy it and come up with a good one.
The bibliography is not a place to list several entries which you found in the library but never actually read in preparing your paper. The bibliography allows you to give credit to the sources you have actually read and learned from in stimulating your thinking about your thesis. Include all those books, articles, internet resources, etc. and only those books, articles, internet resources, etc. in the bibliography that you actually read parts of and used to collect evidence in support of your thesis.
Do not print a number on the cover page; it counts as page zero. Label the page your introductory paragraph is on “1.” Every page after that should be numbered consecutively (“2” and so forth), including your endnotes page (if you have one) and your bibliography. DON’T NEGLECT TO NUMBER YOUR PAGES.
Staple your pages together in the upper left hand corner. Do NOT use a paper clip. Paper clips can come off too easily and get hooked onto other students’ papers. Do NOT use plastic binders or paper folders; they are a waste of your money.
Proofreading and Correcting
The single biggest problem with student papers is that they are not adequately proofread. Sloppiness detracts from the quality of the content of your paper. A sloppy paper will get a lower grade. Considerably sloppy typing, spelling, punctuation, usage, or references will lower the grade considerably.
Grading Criteria for Papers
Sat. Aug. 23 Welcome Week meeting
Introduction of Faculty Preceptor, Decurion, Beadle, and class members
Introduction to RSP 104 – objectives, policies, grading, schedule
Wed. Aug. 27 Introduction to logic; Creighton: Where the Creighton Students Go
Wed. Sept. 3 CCAS Six Learning Outcomes
Read & discuss Learning in the Academy: An Introduction to the Culture of Scholarship
Schedule appointments with Preceptor
Mon. Sept. 8: Alcohol Awareness – 9:00 pm
Wed. Sept. 10 Discuss alcohol awareness; read
& discuss Learning in the Academy: An Introduction to the Culture of
discuss involvement fair
Wed. Sept. 17 Read & discuss TWWU Part I (Chapters 1–6: pp. 1–87)
Wed. Sept. 24 Decurion discusses Obstacles to Learning
Wed. Oct. 1 Read & discuss TWWU Part II (Chapters 7–11: pp. 91–168)
Thurs. Oct. 2: Relationships/Mental Health: “New Friends... Old Friends” – 6:30 pm
Wed. Oct. 8 Designing a Two-Year Plan
Schedule appointments with Preceptor
Wed. Oct. 15 Decurion discusses Learning Opportunities
Wed. Oct. 29 Read & discuss TWWU Part III (Chapters 12–16: pp. 171–232)
Mon. Nov.1 – Tues. Nov. 11 SIGN UP on Prof. Stephens’ office door for individual advising appointments (bring your completed Two-Year Plans)
Wed. Nov. 5 Required
attendance at Major/Minor Exploration Fair,
11:30 am – 3:30 pm in the Harper
Reinert Alumni Library tour by Mr. Nathan Morgan to learn the library’s resources
Monday, November 10, 12 noon – Report on your experience at the Major/Minor Exploration Fair is DUE in Stephens’ mailbox
Wed. Nov. 12 Career Center (in the Harper Center); Decurion discusses career opportunities → National & International Scholarships & Fellowships
You are encouraged to meet at Deglman
Circle at 9:45 am so we can walk to the Joslyn together.
Saturday Nov. 15, 10:00 am: Private Tour of Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
Consult with Prof. Stephens about your paper topic on TWWU between Nov. 14 and 24.
Wed. Nov. 19 Read & discuss TWWU Part IV (Chapters 17–19 & Coda: pp. 235–275)
Thanksgiving Recess WRITE YOUR PAPER
Wed. Dec. 3 Paper on
The World Without Us is DUE; take-home
quiz-essay given; watch first half of The 11th Hour DVD
Thurs. Dec. 4 Take-Home Quiz-Essay is DUE at 12 noon
Wed. Dec. 10 Read Jesuit
History, Values, and Traditions;
A Biography of Saint
Ignatius by Rev. Norman O’Neal,
watch second half of The 11th Hour DVD; complete course evaluations
last updated 3 December 2008
Copyright © 2008, William O. Stephens