Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies
  • W - Writing

Typically offered:

Upon occasion

What is the opposite of “fake news”? Does science have the power—or the right—to tell us where we came from or what the future of our climate will be? Are there such things as universal human rights or ethical norms that are independent of the prejudices of individual people or cultures? Do intuitions or emotions give us higher truths than rationality? Can computers with Big Data discover truths that are inaccessible to mere humans? This course will explore these and related questions about what “truth” might mean, what forms it might take, how we might arrive at it, and how it might inform our public politics and private lives. It will look at a mix of classic and contemporary short texts that exemplify good writing about these general questions. It will also look at current cases and applications of these ideas in the news of the day. Using a College Seminar format, the course will emphasize the writing process to practice skills to formulate, thoughtfully analyze, and revise views about these issues. The course goals are to develop student skills in the critical analysis of arguments and texts and to increase skills in writing clear expositions and persuasive prose. It will include some reading materials and in-class exercises to explore alternative writing processes. Course assignments will include brief homework activities, short papers with revised versions of each, and one longer research paper providing an extended revision of an earlier piece. Students will be evaluated based on the extent to which their class participation, homework and writing assignments demonstrate substantive progress on the course goals. Class sessions will alternate between seminar discussions, short lectures and peer review sessions of papers.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.