Common Syllabus Overview

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The CO150 Fall 2008 Common Syllabus is designed to achieve the following course goals, which are aligned with Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) gtPathways and CSU All University Core Curriculum (AUCC) guidelines:

The syllabus writers also hope this curriculum moves students toward these broader educational goals:

Phase 1: Reading for Critical Inquiry

In the first phase of the course, we study the work of writers who address this question-at-issue: How should we respond to climate change? A series of texts written by professional journalists from The New York Times, Orion, The New Yorker, and other respected media outlets exemplifies the thorough research, critical thinking and clear communication we ask our students to strive for. By looking at the strategies used by these professional writers, who try to answer significant question-at-issues in varying rhetorical situations, we hope to show critical inquiry-in-context that shares values and strategies with academic discourse. To this end, Phase 1 focuses on closeand critical reading.   We read several articles for various purposes, employing a variety of reading strategies.  Our primary goal for this unit is to establish critical reading practices that will enable effective inquiry and support an understanding of writing as rhetorical practice. To assess close reading practices, students write summaries of the readings. Critical reading practices are assessed by a letter writing assignment at the end of Phase 1.

Phase 2: Expanding Critical Inquiry through Investigation and Argument

In the second phase of the course, we expand our inquiry into responses to climate change, developing and refining research questions, and investigating those questions.  The goals for this phase include not only increasing our understanding of the issues, but also engaging in conversations about them. While in the first phase, we focus on one group of journalists' arguments about climate change, in Phase 2 we pose our own questions and investigate them.  In the process of doing so, we build information literacy,finding and selecting sources that offer a variety of perspectives on the questions we pose, as well as credible and authoritative information.  Students work collaboratively in Phase 2's first assignment to investigate a question and report their findings to the class.  These reports serve as the initial inquiry each student pursues a question further or as an impetus for initiating other lines of inquiry. Hopefully, in this unit we'll understand how critical inquiry into significant questions crosses disciplinary boundaries.  As we investigate an issue across a variety of disciplines, we expect to develop a repertoire of strategies for considering purpose and audience in a variety of academic writing situations. Finally, each student will then join the conversation on a climate change by writing an argument for an academic audience that responds to a specific question-at-issue.

Phase 3: Sharing Local Inquiry with Public Audiences

In the final phase of the course, we apply the inquiry and writing practices and strategies we have been using in the course to-date as well as learn and develop additional research methods and writing skills.   To this point, we focused our inquiry on responses to climate change.  In addition, we have seen how conversations about significant issues occur in layered contexts that are interrelated, much like an ecosystem.  In Phase 3, we explore the local ecosystem of the CSU campus and surrounding community, focusing on sites of academic, social, cultural, recreational, political, or personal interest to new students at the university.  In this unit, we ask students to investigate a site of interest--a course, an academic program, a service, an activity, an organization—and to report the results of that investigation to inform a particular local audience about it.  Based on a site investigation and evaluation, students will then write an argument to promote the site to other students, to address a problem with the site, or to effect change. This argument will include visual as well as written rhetorical strategies to achieve its purpose with its audience.