Exploration of significant exemplars, milestones, and developments of human thought. Foundational and representative thinkers and texts from Western and Eastern traditions provide an indication of the diversity and complexity of attempts to articulate responses to universal questions, problems, and aspirations.
I. Learning Objectives I: Essential Understanding and Knowledge (Content-Related Learning Aims and Outcomes)
1. Students engage first-hand in wrestling with the fundamental questions, problems and themes of human and social experience, as formulated and explored by key thinkers from West and East.
2. Students immerse themselves in a rigorous, wide-ranging introduction to seminal and transformative works of Western and Eastern thought, works that continue to influence and inspire people today.
3. Students acquaint themselves with various modes of human inquiry and expression—philosophy, religion, imaginative literature, history, natural science and politics—represented in Western and Eastern traditions.
4. Students cultivate a global, comparative, historical perspective on the diversities and commonalities of Western and Eastern thought in response to fundamental questions, problems and themes of human experience.
“Origins” Fundamental Problems or Questions
Autumn readings and discussions center on enduring questions and concerns of universal interest:
• What does it mean to be human?
• How should I live my life; how should I live with others?
• What can I know, what should I love?
• Why do we yearn for the divine, for enlightenment, for immortality?
• What is nature, what is our place in nature, how should we live in relation to it?
II. Learning Objectives II: Intellectual and Practical Skills
How does the course develop: Analytical and critical reasoning
Integrative thinking ability
Written and oral communication
Ability to collaborate
1. “Origins” Analytical and Critical Reading Skills
Through close reading and analysis of primary sources in a wide range of genres and fields of inquiry, students develop and refine their analytical and critical reading skills. Students learn how to find and evaluate meaning in complex texts representing a broad range of perspectives.
2. “Origins” Development of Integrative Thinking Ability
Through their readings, discussions, and writing assignments, students will continually make connections, contrasts and comparisons between texts, ideas, arguments and modes of expression. Particularly challenging will be the task of seeking out those connections, contrasts and comparisons across cultures and time periods.
3. “Origins” Development of Written and Oral Communication
A writing-intensive course, “Origins” will exercise and refine students writing abilities through frequent writing assignments, including both short-form and long-form essays, with opportunities for revision. Instructors will provide regular and detailed feedback on student writing, and provision will be made for students to receive intensive instruction and support for their writing skills. During the first semester of “Origins,” these goals will be advanced in the context of the course’s UW-20 requirement.
A discussion-based course, “Origins” will develop students’ confidence and capacity for articulate analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of texts. In addition to class participation, instructors will use a variety of pedagogical approaches to develop students’ speaking abilities.
4.) “Origins” Development of Ability to Collaborate
Learning in “Origins” will occur primarily through conversational exploration—primarily between students themselves—of seminal ideas and arguments. In addition to collaborative discussion, exercises involving teamwork and self-organization will challenge students to engage one another and build on their different strengths and perspectives in the learning enterprise.
III. Learning Objectives III: Individual and Social Responsibility
How does the “Origins” course develop some or all of the following?
• Ethical reasoning
• Intercultural knowledge and action
• Civic responsibility and engagement
• Propensity for lifelong learning
Through classroom discussion and written work, students will engage basic questions and debates concerning civic responsibility, ethics, cultural difference, and the value of lifelong inquiry and learning. The latter aim is advanced in particular through encounters with multiple traditions of inquiry that reveal the complexity of basic questions and the variety of answers that they have received over the centuries. The value of lifelong questioning and wonder is awoken and nourished throughout the “Origins” sequence.
V. Origins UW-20 Objectives
I. UW-20 Writing Objectives: Essential Writing Skills
1.) Ability to write critically and analytically.
2.) Ability to use rhetorical principles effectively.
3.) Ability to use information resources effectively to meet research objectives.
4.) Ability to carefully and consistently proofread and edit written work.
5.) Development of an effective writing process.