WELCOME, SPRING 2013 STUDENTS!
"...no thought, no idea, can possibly be conveyed as an idea from one person to another. When it is told, it is, to the one to whom it is told, another given fact, not an idea. The communication may stimulate the other person to realize the question for himself and to think out a like idea, or it may smother his intellectural interest and suppress his dawning effort at thought. But what he directly gets cannot be an idea. Only by wrestling with the conditions of the problem at first hand, seeking and finding his own way out, does he think."
--John Dewey, Democracy and Education, 1916
To stay engaged in and to succeed in the work of this course , you should be prepared to wrestle directly with the conditions of the problems that I present to you: what is culture, what drives its evolution, and what can we do as individuals to shape the cultures around us in positive ways? [--> read more about what I think are the "essential elements" of culture.]
In John Dewey's words, having heard my ideas, you must be ready "to realize the question for [your]self and to think out a like idea" and to engage in "seeking and finding [your] own way out" of the problems to which I draw your attention. In this course, the problems are all linked to the nature of human culture, based primarily on Asian examples. Practically speaking, this active critical thinking about culture will require dedicating ***5-8 hours a week*** outside of class time to prepare for class sessions by reading and completing assignments. Team-based learning will be the primary mode of engaging with primary sources (see www.teambasedlearning.org), facilitated by testing and inter-class communication through SacCT, the university's on-line instructional system.. [--> read more about the "Syllabus"]
As you weigh whether you are able to make this time commitment, consider that most students will not initially find jobs in their majors (see State Hornet, "Its the Hard-Knock Life for Us"). Consider, too, that the human species will undoubtedly face momentous societal changes in the coming decades (see Paul Gilding, "The End of the Industrial Revolution" & "The Great Disruption: How Humankind Can Thrive in the 21st Century"). Adapting successfully to such changes will require moving from economic structures that prioritize material production to those that prioritize lasting happiness and meaningful social engagement (see "Gross National Happiness" vs. GDP). Thus the jobs you will be called upon to do in the future may be unknown to you, and may not even yet exist.
It is increasingly certain that developing a critical thinking mindset will play an essential role in preparing today's students for this kind of future; passively absorbing prescribed curricular materials or vocational training procedures will in all likelihood be inadequate. Throughout the semester, I and your engaged classmates will model this kind of critical thinking mindset about the factors impacting human fulfillment, to suggest how we can face the pressures and changes of our time with courage and resilience. To do this we will examine a broad range of sources documenting people in Asian cultures throughout history wrestling with the momentous societal pressures and changes of their own distant times and places.
Course Policies (PDF download)