Introduction to Liberal Arts & Sciences: 2017-09-19آ  Introduction to Liberal Arts & Sciences: Globalization

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  • Introduction to Liberal Arts & Sciences: Globalization Dr. Everett Hamner Western Illinois University, Fall 2017, Mondays 12:30-3 LAS 195: Q01 (Quad Cities Complex 2214), Office hours M 10-12, W 10-11, Th 10-11 in QCC 2209, 309-762-3999 x62247

    General Catalog Description & Prerequisites A comparative introduction to the major areas of the liberal arts and sciences. Students will learn how each area evolved and how each approaches problems and controversies. The course may take its particular focus each year from the university theme. Specific Description & Goals The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have seen a marked increase in international interconnectedness, much of it via digital culture. But relatively few American citizens have pondered the daily impact for individuals and communities, especially those not among the upper class. This course is an opportunity to turn that momentum, asking how a wide range of disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences shed light on the causes and consequences of globalization. Our semester will focus on three major areas of interconnection. First, we will consider the ideologies driving deregulation, surveillance culture, and “alternative facts.” Does a free market require limits? What does privacy mean in such a world? How do we decide what information to trust? Then we will focus more tightly on the problem of humanly induced climate change, the increasingly chaotic shifts in world climate caused by human activity since the industrial age. How do we know this is a problem, what hinders serious responses, and how can we communicate the urgency most effectively? Finally, we will consider how globalism and climate change are tied to social stratification and racial inequality, with whole people groups moving across the world and others devastated by rapid shifts in local industries. How have corporatism and neoliberalism reshaped opportunities for migration and social mobility? What can we do to overcome the most devastating patterns of environmental injustice? As students undertake the liberal arts and sciences program, this course prepares them to think carefully and creatively across common disciplinary assumptions. That does not mean becoming non- disciplinary: rather, students should come away with a deepened appreciation for the unique methodologies and concerns of many specific disciplines. They will also develop greater skill in tactfully and honestly presenting arguments about areas of cultural controversy. Our culture currently has very few spaces in which productive, thoughtful disagreement is possible, much less encouraged, and we will take advantage of the opportunities afforded by our public university space. Finally, please note that there will be occasional moments in this course devoted to learning about potential minors, internships, and extracurricular activities, with the aim that students leave the course with at least a tentative plan for future courses and career exploration. Featuring a moderate reading load, three reading/viewing comprehension quizzes, two substantial reflection essays, and many chances to dialogue with fellow students, the course culminates with an argumentative essay tied to an area of personal interest.

  • 2 Reading & Assignment Schedule PLEASE NOTE: ~“READING,” “VIEWING,” or “WRITING” = read, watch, or complete in full BEFORE class ~“IN CLASS” = no preparation required

    1st WEEK, AUG 21ST: WHAT COUNTS AS A FACT? IN CLASS: ~Graham Ambrose, “These Coloradans say Earth is flat. And gravity’s a hoax. Now, they’re being persecuted.” The Denver Post (July 7, 2017)

    ~Eclipse viewing outdoors on quad (glasses & even a telescope provided!) ~Syllabus review and discussion of goals and assignments ~Small group introductions (using introductory survey handout)


    2nd WEEK, AUG 28TH: GLOBALIZATION AS BOTH CONTINUATION & INTENSIFICATION READING: ~Manfred B. Steger, Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (preface, ch 1-2) ~Paolo Bacigalupi, The Doubt Factory (prologue, ch 1-12) IN CLASS: ~Data mining 101, via your friendly neighborhood Target store ~John Oliver, Edward Snowden, and electronic surveillance


    4th WEEK, SEPT 11TH: HOW WE TALK ABOUT ECONOMICS & POLITICS (OR DON’T) READING: ~Steger, Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (ch 3-4) ~Bacigalupi, The Doubt Factory (ch 13-25) WRITING: ~Reflection essay opportunity #1—respond to one of the following (due on Western Online under “Discussions” by 11 a.m. on Monday 9/11): a) Halfway through Bacigalupi’s novel, how much do you identify with Alix and/or Moses? In what ways do their experiences and attitudes seem common and/or exceptional? Choose at least one specific passage to discuss, explaining what stands out and why you feel it matters. b) Steger is careful to emphasize that globalization does not mean the end or the insignificance of nation-states or local communities, but the accelerating expansion of connections that extend beyond immediate geography. Pick an example of this phenomenon that matters to you and explain why it should be celebrated, lamented, or both. IN CLASS: ~Conversations sparked by reflection essays ~Expanding on week 1’s question: how do we know things? Who do we care about? ~1 way this matters

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    5th WEEK, SEPT 18TH: CULTURE, ECOLOGY, & THE PUPPETEERS OF INACTION READING: ~Steger, Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (ch 5-6) ~Bacigalupi, The Doubt Factory (ch 26-34) IN CLASS: ~Merchants of Doubt (2014), part one ~The West Wing, geography, and the subtle ideology of information representation

    6th WEEK, SEPT 25TH: IDEOLOGY, THE FUTURE, & THE COMFORT OF CONFORMITY READING: ~Steger, Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (ch 7-8) ~Bacigalupi, The Doubt Factory (ch 35-44, epilogue) IN CLASS: ~Quiz #1 (covering part 1 of course) ~Merchants of Doubt (2014), part two ~Looking ahead: climate change PART TWO: GLOBAL WEIRDING AND THE ANTHROPOCENE

    7th WEEK, OCT 2ND: FAST FACTS ON THE SLOW VIOLENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE READING: ~Bill McKibben, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (2010), ch 1 ~Who is taking climate change seriously today—and why? Low-lying, impoverished nations like Bangladesh:

    tragedy-of-climate-change-in-bangladesh/ The Pope: Europeans: Florida mayors: PBS:

    network-reporting-on-climate-change-trump-wants-to-cut-it Teachers: NASA: US military leaders: Honest coal executives: Some Republicans in the House of Representatives:

    republicans-climate-change-global-warming-trump/518430/ IN CLASS: ~Leiserowitz, Anthony et al. ”Global Warming’s Six Americas.” Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (2016). ~ ~ ~Who is denying that human beings have caused climate change? scientists-telling-trump-to-burn-the-climate

    Isaac Cordal, “Politicians Discussing Global Warming,” Berlin

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    8th WEEK, OCT 9TH: SCIENCE VS. SCIENTISM AND THE PROBLEM OF TRUST READING: ~Chris Mooney, "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science" (Mother Jones, 2011) ~Elizabeth Kolbert, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” (The New Yorker, 2017) ~Andrew Schtulman, “In Public Understanding of Science, Alternative Facts are the

    Norm” (NPR, 2017) science-alternative-facts-are-the-norm

    ~Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly, "Most Republicans Say They Back Climate Action, Poll Finds" (New York Times, 2015) americans-support-government-action-on-climate-change-poll-finds.html