PSCI 1050 - Schedule - 2019


  PSCI 1050




Schedule of Classes and Assignments

Week #1

Thursday, August 29: Introduction to the course. "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, yet wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

Week #2

Tuesday, September 3:

I. Discussing hot topics without getting hot under the collar.

II. Required courses, or "learning under duress".

Thursday, September 5: Filter bubbles and echo chambers: "Tell me I'm right." 

Examine: go to this website and click on the links of several media sites you've never heard of. Poke around each one and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Week #3

Tuesday, September 10: Coping with "infobesity" and filters. And by the way, do we really want an argument? (hint: yes).

Read: The problem: "Infobesity epidemic."

Read: "How the web distorts reality and impairs our judgement skills."

Read: "Argument."

Also read: "Forget what you know about good study habits." This is a New York Times articles. You get several free each month, so you should have no problem opening it. But I also advise you to get a free subscription (a benefit of being a WMU student). See the course policies page.

Quiz: course policies.

Thursday, September 12: Value assumptions. "It's 11 pm; do you know where your values are?"

Watch: "Value and descriptive assumptions" (15:00; be prepared to watch a lecture from a CGI professor).

Week #4

Tuesday, September 17: You, Part I: students today.

Read: "Declining student resilience: a serious problem for colleges."

Read: "Are today’s college students more psychologically fragile than in the past?"

Examine: "Today's college students" (Gates Foundation).

Thursday, September 19: Evidence: polling and surveys. "Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?" (Robert Orben)

Watch: "Pros and cons of public opinion polls" (4:24)

Read: "Sampling methods for political polling" (from the American Association of Public Opinion Research).

Week #5

Tuesday, September 24: Polling continued. Debate topics (after all, who doesn't like to argue?).

Read: "The real story of 2016."

Read: "What went wrong with last year’s election surveys? Pollsters have some answers."

Both of these articles address the failure of polls to predict Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election.

Thursday September 26: Support: facts, statistics and experts, or why "my uncle says..." is not enough.

Read: "Three ways to support an argument."

Week #6

Tuesday, October 1: Bibliographic research.

Read and watch: "How to write an annotated bibliography."

Thursday, October 3: Exam I (see study guide on the notes page).  

Week #7

Tuesday, October 8: To be announced.

Thursday, October 10: Reasoning fallacies, or how to ruin a good argument with weak logic.

Read: "15 Logical fallacies you should know before getting into a debate."

Week #8

Tuesday, October 15: You, Part II: Generation Z.

Read: "Defining generations: where Millennials end and Generation Z begins."

Read: "Early benchmarks show ‘post-Millennials’ on track to be most diverse, best-educated generation yet."

Read: "Generation Z looks a lot like Millennials on key social and political issues."

Thursday, October 17: fall break.

Week #9

Tuesday,  October 22: Media literacy I: living in a carefully edited and photoshopped world.

Read: "Whatever happened to the news?" Note the date on this article: 1990.

Watch: "And now, the real news" (3:08).

Read: "Thinking, shallow and deep."

Thursday. October 24: Media literacy II: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Read: "Investigative journalism can still make bad guys squirm."

Read: "Bias, bullshit and lies." 

Week #10

Tuesday, October 29: Media literacy III: social media, "a great place to tell the world what you’re thinking before you’ve had a chance to think about it." (Chris Pirillo)

Read: "How news has changed."
Watch: "How to separate fact from fiction online."
Read: "Is social media destroying the news?"
Read: "The recent explosion of right-wing news sites." (The title is misleading; it's also about left-wing news sites.)

Thursday, October 31: Language. "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Read: "Language: a key mechanism of control."

Seek: Find a speech by President Trump or any of the Democratic presidential candidates. Campaign speeches are particularly useful in this case. What images are they trying to convey and what words or phrases do they use to do so? Bring your observations to class (not to be turned in).

Saturday, November 2: Annotated bibliography due at midnight (11:59 pm +1:00).

Week # 11

Tuesday, November 5: Exam II (see study guide on the notes page).

Thursday, November 7: Uses of emotion: Be angry! Be afraid! Be hopefull!

Read (and watch the videos of commercials): "The use and consequences of emotions in politics."

Watch: "How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google manipulate our emotions" (18:58).


Week #12

Tuesday, November 12: You, part III: public attitudes toward colleges and students

Read: "Most Americans say higher ed is heading in wrong direction, but partisans disagree on why."

Read: "Americans' views of higher education as a public and private good."

Read: "Higher education is drowning in BS."

Thursday, November 14: Continuation from Nov 7, 12.

Week #13

Tuesday, November 19: Putting it all together.

Thursday, November 21: Debate team coordination: working with your groups to develop a debate strategy.

Saturday, November 23: : Position papers due at midnight (11:59 pm).

Week #14

Tuesday, November 26: Debates I: the trade war.

Thursday, November 28: Thanksgiving

Week #15

Tuesday, December 3:  Debates II: higher education costs.

Thursday, December 5:  Debates III: health care reform.

Final exam

Wednesday, December 11 from 10:15-12:15 (see study guide on the notes page).