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GE Model Proposal

M E M O R A N D U M

To: General Education Committee
David Miller, Chair

From: Paul van der Veur, Chair, Communication Studies

Date: General Education Course Proposal
COM 233, Reporting the World: The Personal Voice of Global Journalism

 

The purpose of this memo is to describe and justify a new course offering for GE 7, Humanities.

A. Course Catalog Description

(B) Critical reading of narrative journalism (also known as literary journalism, literary reportage, reportage literature) with a focus on individual lives in a global context. Emphasis on understanding conventions and methods used and humanistic concerns that arise. (3 cr. hr.)

B. Justification

1. Goal and Objectives

[GE 7: "The goal of this category is to help students appreciate and understand the humanities. Courses in this category will address a humanities discipline through a variety of resources and critical approaches."]

General Goals:

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the humanities as a global enterprise through reading what is called literary or narrative journalism and which elsewhere in the world may go by such different names as literary reportage, reportage literature, nuevo periodisimo (Latin America), baogao wenxue (China), and the ocherk (Russia). In this course students will read and critically respond to some of the most compelling texts with a global focus. Many of the examples have won major awards, such as the Lettre Ulysses Award in Berlin, because of their fundamental commitment to such major humanistic concerns as personal and social tragedy and triumph, the meaning of life, poverty, self-delusion and vanity, among others. They do so because they are written in a style that is called "narrative" or "literary" journalism, which is a journalism that tells a story in the conventional sense, much like a novel or short story, except that it is true. Students examine the relationship between individuals and their societies. Readings may focus on Germany, Burma, Afghanistan, China, Russia, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Haiti, among others. Some of the journalists are professionals, while others are individuals who felt they had an important message to share with the world and took up the journalist's pen. Some are American and some are not. There is no one common denominator that binds them except that they all were moved to engage in a humanistic revelation of culture by examining the aesthetics of personal experience. Most of the readings are contemporary, but students will also read a selection of historical accounts to provide context for the contemporary expression. Moreover, the "how" is just as important as the "what" because it determines the shape the "what" will take. For that reason the course also emphasizes developing an understanding of the conventions and methods used to create such texts. Ultimately, the focus is on the compelling nature of the aesthetics of experience as told through a many-voiced dialogic. The virtue of a many-voiced dialogic is that it encourages individual critical interpretation and thus intellectual self-efficacy.

Specific Objectives

In understanding the specific objectives, there are two assumptions implicit to this proposal. First, the college has determined that there is a need for increasing global awareness among students in order for them to become better world citizens. Exploring the personal side of the lives of those in other cultures will contribute to that end, as well as to news literacy. Moreover, many of our students are weak readers. ACT, the college testing agency, found in 2006 that half the student population entering college was not adequately prepared to engage in complex reading. The course is designed to help further nurture reading skills which can only enhance critical thinking skills.

Regarding specific objectives, the course will make an innovative pedagogical contribution to understanding our global world by helping American undergraduates develop better international perspective, awareness and sensitivity to the individual lives of those in other lands. This is no small matter given our age of increasing globalization precisely at a time when media outlets are cutting back on foreign news coverage. To this end students will read true-life narratives from around the world in order to introduce them to the experiences others confront in their own cultures and societies. Informed with such personal and cultural perspectives, students will then seek to make further connections to those societies by examining contemporary news relevant to those countries.

Another objective to the course is to help students become better readers. Sophisticated complex reading skills are necessary if students are to develop as socially responsible world citizens who can critically examine the difficult issues that we face today. At the heart of the matter for students are basic literacy and their own sense of self efficacy, in other words, their confidence in their abilities to negotiate by means of language such difficult issues. As noted, many undergraduates are ill-prepared to engage in complex reading.

The importance of the kind of readings selected for Reporting the World is that they are fundamentally narrative in the traditional sense of the storytelling model. Given that the human mind engages in inquiry into the world around it by constructing and telling stories, such readings are cognitively more accessible than more abstract readings such as complex conventional news stories and the technical examinations often found in conventional college-level textbooks.* Fundamentally, many students need to feel more comfortable with the reading process when in fact too often they do not.

The issues surrounding global awareness and complex reading are compelling enough that such a study should be foundational to a liberal arts education in the twenty-first century. Hence we are seeking GE status for this course.

*For example, and in support of the ACT findings noted earlier, John Hartsock conducted reading-only exams in which students in his sophomore-level Communication History course and his senior-level Communication Law and Ethics course had to read one chapter from their relevant textbooks to be examined on the contents without the benefit of lecture. The first time he conducted such exams, Fall 2007, 50 percent of the students in the Communication History course received a "D" or lower on the exam, while 25 percent of those in the Communication Law and Ethics course received a "D" or lower. The second time he conducted the exams, Fall 2008, 62 percent of the students in Communication History received a "D" or lower on the exam, while 50 percent of those in Communication Law and Ethics received a "D" or lower. Such readings are important, but many students have yet to mature as readers before they can read such complex and sophisticated materials.

2. Learning Outcomes

[Required GE 7 Learning Outcomes: "Students will
1. be able to critically respond to works in the humanities;
2. be able to discuss major human concerns as they are treated in the humanities;
3. demonstrate an understanding of the conventions and methods of at least one area in the humanities."]

The general required learning outcomes are reflected in the following specific learning outcomes for the course:

a. Students will enhance their critical abilities to read and respond to complex material with a humanistic focus, meaning a focus on individual lives. Measures of critical response will be reflected in quizzes on readings, the essay midterm, and the final paper.

b. Students will enhance their abilities to understand and discuss the major human concerns in the humanities as they are applied to the all-too-often alienated global "Other," which is a term discussed in class. Measures of that enhancement will be reflected in the essay midterm, the class presentation, and the final paper.

c. Students will enhance their abilities to understand the conventions and methods used in this kind writing in order to understand what it offers compared to conventional fiction, conventional journalism, and conventional history writing, among other genres.

C. Department Acknowledgement

The Department of Communication Studies acknowledges its responsibility to participate in formal GE assessment.


 

SUNY Cortland      

  Department of Communication Studies

 

COM 233, sec. 001                              REPORTING THE WORLD:                                       Fall 2010          CRN 96991                                The Personal Voice of Global Journalism                                                                                                                      

 

      INSTRUCTOR: John C. Hartsock, Ph.D.

 

TIME: MW:  3-4:15 p.m.                                                                                           ROOM: Dowd 0206                                          

 

TEXTS:  Hiroshima, People on the Street, In the Land of Magic Soldiers, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Schindler's List, and electronic reserve readings downloadable from the library web site. You will be required to make a hard copy of the electronic readings.

 

OFFICE HOURS:  MF: 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and when there is not a departmental meeting on Wednesdays during this same time period; MW: 1:45-3 p.m. (Be aware that sometimes students delay me after class so please be patient until my return.)

 

OFFICE: Dowd FA 231                                 PHONE: X4103                              MAILBOX: DF224    

                                                            E-MAIL: hartsockj@cortland.edu 

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

(B) Critical reading of narrative journalism (also known as literary journalism, literary reportage, reportage literature) with a focus on individual lives in a global context. Emphasis on understanding conventions and methods used and humanistic concerns that arise. (3 cr. hr.)

      

 

COURSE OBJECTIVES

 

In this course, students will read and critically respond to some of the most compelling texts of journalism with a global focus. Many of the examples have won major awards, such as the Lettre Ulysses Award in Berlin, because of their fundamental commitment to major humanistic concerns. They do so because they are written in a style that is called "narrative" or "literary" journalism, which is a journalism that reads like a novel or short story except that it is true. You will explore the relationships between individuals and their societies. Readings may focus on Germany, Burma, Afghanistan, China, Russia, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Haiti, among others. Some of the journalists are professionals, while others are individuals who felt they had an important message to share with the world and took up the journalist's pen. Some are American and some are not. There is no one common denominator that binds them except that they all engage in cultural revelation by examining the aesthetics of personal experience. Most of the readings are contemporary, but occasionally we will read historical accounts to provide context for the contemporary experience. Moreover, the "how" is just as important as the "what" because it determines the shape the "what" will take. For that reason we will also emphasize developing an understanding of the conventions and methods used to create such texts. Ultimately, our focus is on the compelling nature of the aesthetics of experience as told through a many-voiced dialogic. We will discuss these terms in class. From time to time the instructor will show slides of some of the countries you are reading about (for example, Russia, Afghanistan, Haiti, Nepal). We will also have guests from some of those countries come to class and discuss their native lands.

 

Note that students will have to make arrangements to allow for extra time to watch the movies Schindler's List and Seven Years in Tibet. No exceptions.

 

 

 

GE 7: THE HUMANITIES

 

This course fulfills GE 7 requirements. The requirements read, in part: "The goal of this category is to help students appreciate and understand the humanities. Courses in this category will address a

humanities discipline through a variety of resources and critical approaches." A full description of GE 7 requirements, including writing requirements, can be found in the online college catalog at: http://catalog.cortland.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=8&poid=914

 

     STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES    

           

Required GE 7 Learning Outcomes (from the College Catalog): 

 

"Students will . . .

 

"1. be able to critically respond to works in the humanities;

"2. be able to discuss major human concerns as they are treated in the humanities;

"3. demonstrate an understanding of the conventions and methods of at least one area in the humanities."

 

The general required learning outcomes are reflected in the following specific learning outcomes for the course:

 

  1. Students will enhance their critical abilities to read and respond to complex material with a humanistic focus, meaning a focus on individual lives. Measures of critical response will be reflected in quizzes on readings, the essay midterm, and the final paper.

 

  1. Students will enhance their abilities to understand and discuss the major human concerns in the humanities as they are applied to the all-too-often alienated global "Other," which is a term discussed in class. Measures of that enhancement will be reflected in the essay midterm, the class presentation, and the final paper.

 

  1. Students will enhance their abilities to understand the conventions and methods used in this kind writing in order to understand what it offers compared to conventional fiction, conventional journalism, and conventional history writing, among other genres.

 

EVALUATION

 

This course very much involves class discussion. To that end, this is how your final grade will be determined:

 

1. Class participation: 10 percent (this will be discussed in class).

2. Midterm essay: 30 percent

3. Research paper (5-7 pages): 30 percent

4. Quizzes on readings, 20 percent

5. Class presentation providing cultural context for readings, 10 percent

 

The focus of the midterm essay and research paper is on two inter-related aspects: cultural analysis and rhetorical analysis, and how the two influence each other.

 

No extra credit is available. Thus, you must focus all your attention and energy on the requirements for evaluation above.

 

 

 

Dr. Hartsock follows the university's grading policies as outlined in the college catalog. They are as follows (from the SUNY Cortland online college catalog):

 

 

A

Superior performance

 

 

B

Good performance

 

 

C

Fair performance

 

 

D

Minimally acceptable performance

 

 

E

Failure of a course

 

 

SUNY Cortland employs a plus and minus grading system ranging from A+ to D- which is the lowest grade for which college credit is awarded. Failure of a course is indicated by E.

 

Expect quizzes on all readings. The quizzes are usually five questions worth 20 points each. In addition, there is usually a bonus question. The credit on the bonus question can substitute for a regular quiz question you've missed. You can earn up to but no more than 100 points on the quiz. 

 

ATTENDANCE

 

Dr. Hartsock subscribes to the college's policy on absences. Absences are for legitimate illnesses or emergencies. Students with more than three unexcused absences will be penalized according to university policy of one-third letter grade per class hour of absence. Also, if you come to class late, it will count as an absence unless you inform me at the end of class of your arrival. Your late presence will be entered as late, "L," and three late arrivals equal one absence. If you are late to class half way through the class (or more), the absence remains recorded in the grade book.

 

 DISABILITY POLICY

 

If you are a student with a disability and wish to request accommodations, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services located in B-1 VanHoesen Hall or call 753-2066 for an appointment. Information regarding your disability will be treated in a confidential manner. Because many accommodations require early planning, requests for accommodations should be made as early as possible. 

 

 READINGS and ELECTRONIC RESERVES

 

You must read the assigned readings. Many will be on electronic reserve at the library. You will be able to access the electronic readings from your computer. The instructor will provide the password in class for access, and if necessary, show you how to get access. You must make hard copy of your readings and bring them to class. You cannot pass the course by only taking notes in class. Always bring the assigned readings to class! Not to do so will count against class participation. The instructor will occasionally check to see if you have brought them. If you have not, that will count as an absence from class.

 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

 

"Students will not cheat or plagiarize in this course. Plagiarism, a serious academic offense, is defined as expropriating the ideas of others and using them as one's own without due credit. Students who cheat in examinations or plagiarize in this course will be disciplined in accordance with university rules and regulations." (See College Handbook, Chapter 340 of the current online College Handbook located on the College's website under the link "Student Life":

http://www.cortland.edu/handbook/hb08_10/part3.html#Anchor-CHAPTER-55306

 

Note: This syllabus is subject to change with reasonable notice.

Tentative Schedule

 

Due date

Reading and Assignment

Author

Subject

Culture

Jan. 22

Syllabus distributed, Introduction

 

 

 

Jan. 27

Hiroshima

John Hersey

Survival in nuclear blast

Japan

Jan. 29

Hiroshima

"                "

"               "

Japan

Feb. 3

*Baghdad Burning

"Riverbend" (pseud.)

Iraqi view of American forces

Iraq

Feb. 5

*Season in Mecca

Abdella Hammoudi

Muslim religious pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia

Feb. 10

*Sewing Circles of Herat

Christina Lamb

Afghan women risk arrest to study literature

Afghanistan

Feb. 12

People on the Street

Linda Grant

Contemporary complexities

Israel

Feb. 17

People on the Street

"             "

and contradictions in Israel

Israel

Feb. 19

*Country of Bullets 

Juanita Leon

Farmers caught in crossfire between rightists and leftists

Colombia

Feb. 24

*Enrique's Journey

Sonia Nazario

Honduran boy rides freight trains through Mexico to join

Mexico, Honduras

Feb. 26

*Enrique's Journey; midterm distributed

"             "

mother illegally in U.S.

"           "

March 3

*Undesirable Journalist

Günter

Wallraff

Journalist works undercover to reveal working conditions at Mellita coffee.

Germany

March 5

*Raging Reporter-Scenes from Dives, *Tales from Seven Ghettoes; midterm turned in

Egon Erwin Kisch

After murder, existential deliberations in a bar; in search of the golem in Prague (works of founder of literary reportage movement in Europe)

Austro-Hungary & Czech lands

March 7-15

Spring Break

 

 

 

March 17

Watch Schindler's List, make arrangements for 3 hours 16 minutes

Steven Spielberg; Thomas Keneally

Holocaust

Judaica

March 19

Schindler's List; discuss book and movie 

"            "

"             "          

"            "

March 24

*Boys in Zinc, *Voices from Chernobyl

Svetlana Alexievich

Views of wives/mothers on deaths of husbands /sons in Afghanistan/from Chernobyl disaster.

Russia

March 26

*Pushkin Park

John Hartsock

Russians gratefully greet arrival of McDonald's; Pushkin looks on dubiously

Russia

March 31

In the Land of Magic Soldiers

Daniel Bergner

Bloody civil war in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

April 2

In the Land of Magic Soldiers

"              "

"              "

"          "

April 7

*Christmas Eve in Uganda, *Yesterday, Tomorrow; Visit by Dr. Mwanika

Ryzsard Kapuscinski; Nuruddin Farah

Idi Amin's atmosphere of terror; Somali refugees flee collapsing state

Uganda, Somalia

April 9

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Tracy Kidder

American doctor fights AIDS and TB

Haiti & Peru

April 14

Mountains Beyond Mountains

"              "

in Haiti and Peru

"             "

April 16

*Finding George Orwell in Burma, *The Hanging

Emma Larkin;           George Orwell

Life in authoritarian Myanmar; Orwell's classic sketch of execution

Burma

April 21

*Maximum City

Suketu Mehta

Life of a "bar girl" in Mumbai

India

April 23

*Forget Kathmandu

Manjushree Thapa

In search of the insurgency in countryside

Nepal

April 28

*Seven Years in Tibet, watch movie; make arrangements to view for 2 hrs. 16 mins.

Jean-Jacques Annaud; Heinrich Harrer

Traveling illegally to Lhasa

Tibet

April 30

Discuss Seven Years movie and book

"                       "

"                                  " 

Tibet

May 5

*Betrothal, *Will the Boat Sink the Water?

Jixiang (pseud.);

Chen Guidi & Chu Wuntao

1936: 10-year boy old betrothed;

Contemporary: Farmer killed for opposing illegal taxes.

China

 

Final paper due in instructor's mailbox by 4 p.m. on final exam date

 

 

 

 

*denotes electronic reserve.