new see updates  (posted 26 Oct 2011)


It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.

(Albert Einstein, 1921, in response to Thomas Edison’s opinion that a college education is useless)


Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

(G. K. Chesterton)


In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase in sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1.18)


Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.



Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

(William Butler Yeats)


You must unlearn what you have learned.

(Yoda [Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back])


The unexamined life is not worth living.

(Socrates [Plato, Apology, 38a])




Westminster's Honors page
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Westminster College 

Westminster homepage

 Honors Inquiry 111 (Section H): Life Examined

Fall Semester • 2011 



Welcome to Westminster College, to the All-College Honors Program, and to Honors Inquiry 111, the Honors version of Inquiry 111 designed for Honors Scholars!


Accessibility Statement:

Westminster College actively strives for the full inclusion of all our students. Students with disabilities who require access solutions for environmental or curricular barriers should contact Corey Shaw, Director of Disability Support Services: 209 Thompson-Clark Hall; 724-946-7192;

 Outcomes and Objectives

Inquiry 111 introduces first-year students to liberal arts education and to equip them with skills essential to their success at college and in the wider world. For more information about the First-Year Program, read the "Introduction to the First-Year Program" in the textbook Inquiry 111. Read also about the Westminster Plan.


Also, read the Honors Scholar Handbook to learn about the All-College Honors Program.


There are three outcomes and objectives of Inquiry 111:


articulate and practice the values and methods of liberal arts education through opportunities to
study liberal arts practices and theories
recognize the greater expectations associated with college-level work and develop appropriate critical thinking and information literacy skills
consider moral and ethical responsibilities we have to various communities as a result of our education
  2) engage, experience and explain different ways of knowing through opportunities to
examine and compare each of the Intellectual Perspectives as ways of knowing
recognize and respect different worldviews
challenge our own assumptions to promote inquiry and intellectual growth
  3) pursue interdisciplinary study and discussion of important issue through opportunities to
investigate and discuss significant or controversial issues from multiple cultural and intellectual perspectives
engage diverse views of common readings and issues
participate in an active learning community sharing a first-year experience


In pursuit of these Inquiry aims, the Honors Inquiry will proceed at an accelerated pace with higher expectations for assignments, level of analysis, and class discussions. Like other components of the Honors Program, the Honors Inquiry demands self-motivation and active contribution to group activities, especially class discussions. As we cultivate the appreciation of reading, writing, and exploring different ideas, you can expect this course to be full of challenging, enlightening, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding experiences.

 Requirements and evaluation for the course


See the "Introduction to the First-Year Program" in Inquiry 111 for information on

Attendance Requirements (See my Evaluation page under Participation for my attendance policy.)

Absences from Examinations

Academic Integrity (NB Westminster's Academic Integrity Policy; also see my note on plagiarism)

Co-curricular Activities

Computer & Network Orientation

The Learning Center


For my criteria for evaluation of assignments go to Evaluation and read the information carefully.


NB: If you have any questions regarding any assignment, please 1) ask in class for the benefit of others or 2) make an appointment to see me.

Assigned readings

Assigned readings are essential and should be completed before the classes for which they are assigned—use your best judgment to divide the readings evenly for each week. Occasionally I may assign additional readings, but these will ordinarily be short. You must come to class with at least 2 written questions or comments you have for each of the reading selections (see Participation). The primary focus of the course will be on discussing the bolded assigned readings in class (see schedule below).


NB: Not all the assigned readings may be covered in class discussions or exams, but they are required for your edification. The more you refer to them in class and in your work, the more impressive your mastery of the readings will be. I would encourage you to use this form for every reading assignment (also on the R-drive).


In the schedule below is a link for a variety of recommended "readings" (e.g., articles, movies). Although they are not required, you may find them helpful, humorous, stimulating, useful, etc.


You will prepare a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation of

the main idea(s) of the reading assignment (see the Assignments column in the course schedule below),

your critique or response to it (including references to previous readings)this should be the focus of the presentationand

critical questions, challenges, discoveries, insights, etc. to initiate class discussion.

See my Evaluation page under Presentations for evaluation criteria. Submit your PowerPoint presentation on the R-drive before coming to class to present (Assignmt>Presentation; file name = "last name presentation.ppt").


All students will fill out an evaluation sheet, which will be 1) used to offer peer critique to the presenter and 2) collected by me to review students' critical ability and participation.



You will participate in several group debates in which one group will present the merits of a particular reading and its arguments or insights, while the other group will present its shortcomings and limits. Your group's preparation and performance in class will determine a part of your course participation grade.

Co-curricular activities

You will attend or participate in 3 co-curricular activities (you're encouraged to attend more). They can be plays, speeches, campus events, community service, etc.

One must be a performance art (e.g., visual, musical, theatrical, oral).

The one due in November should be your participation in the Mock Convention (910 Nov.)

The other one is up to you to choose from among the opportunities available throughout the semester. If you're not sure something qualifies as a co-curricular activity), ask me before you write the paper.


Within 5 class days after the co-curricular activity you must submit a reflection paper (1–2 pages) consisting of

a short summary (1 paragraph) describing the event (e.g., the date and place of the activity, what it was, what happened, who attended) and

your critical reflection on it and its significance, especially for Inquiry 111 (this should be the substantial portion of the paper showing how you see the connections between Inquiry themes and the co-curricular activity).

Incorporate, as much as possible, your reflections on liberal arts education and on the Inquiry readings (including the summer reading) as they relate to your paper. Follow the guidelines for Written assignments. Submit your paper at with the following file name: last name co-cur 1.doc (see example on the R-drive).

Peer critique
In order to explore writing as an academic discipline, we will spend three classes evaluating and editing one another's papers. After the Oct co-curricular papers have been submitted by all students, you will all be given the chance to read each other's papers. Given the criteria of evaluation in the syllabus, you will write comments and decide on a grade for each paper. We will spend time in class to evaluate as a class passages from every paper. One objective of this exercise will be to become better readers and editors, thereby also better writers. Another objective is to become acquainted with the practice of peer review and the benefits of feedback. Be prepared to discuss in class your experience of evaluating and editing others' papers on your own and together in class, as well as receiving peer critique of your writing.

Research paper

You will write a 10-page research paper on a topic of your choice. Make an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your topic with me. Whatever your topic and thesis, make sure that connections with Inquiry themes and materials, including the summer reading, are evident in your final work. As an Honors Scholar, you are expected to learn the discipline of continual research, writing, and editing throughout the semester. You may find the Tips for writing papers helpful.

You must submit (in one file on the R-drive) a paper proposal that includes:

a thoughful and clear articulation of your research interestthe more detailed, narrower, and specific the research interest, the better (try to formulate a thesis; see Harris, tab 10, 61d, 61e)


a preliminary bibliography that includes at least 10 secondary sources (besides course textbooks and reference books) you found to be promising for your paper, including 5 periodical (journal) articles (newspapers and magazines are acceptable if appropriate for your paper)

Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they are scholarly sources. Use the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian) for footnotes and the bibliography.

Submit your proposal as early as possible in the semester, so that it can be approved for you to begin work. Make an appointment as early as you can to bring a hard copy of your proposal for discussion and approval.

You are strongly encouraged to make further appointments for feedback on your progress.

The paper should represent original work (i.e., your own thoughts), not a mere digest of other people’s opinions. Your own reading and re-reading of the relevant texts, as well as review of other materials, are fundamental to the task. I want to know what you discover in your engagement with the text(s)—a "text" can be written works, art works, music, plays, movies, interview, research results, poll data etc.—whether or not you agree with the authors or the opinions presented in class, including mine.


Focus on honing your ability (1) to argue for your opinions and conclusions persuasively and (2) to support them with evidence from texts (especially primary sources) and other relevant sources.

Your final bibliography (NB: not works cited) must contain at least 8 sources used in your paper, including 4 periodical (journal) articles.

Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they are scholarly sources.


Use the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian) for footnotes (or endnotes) and the bibliography. Learn the automatic footnote (and endnote) function of your word processor.

Follow all the instructions given on my Evaluation page under Written assignments.


Throughout the semester, you will be responsible for learning significant terms covered in our texts or in class (see the “terms” file on the R-drive). You will be responsible for the definitions. Use (1) the course texts, e.g., glossary, index, (2) the resources listed in Resources to consider below, or (3) any other appropriate sources of information. The terms may constitute a part of any quiz or exam.




There will be 2 short quizzes and 1 longer quiz at midterm. They will cover the materials in the course you will have learned by the time of the quizzes, including the reading assignments and terms. See my Evaluation page under Quizzes and examinations. There may be pop quizzes, the results of which will affect the evaluation of your participation.


Grades will be assigned as fairly as possible. See my Evaluation page under Grades for more information. (See also p. xii in the Inquiry textbook for grade descriptions.) The final grade for the course will consist of the following:



NB: participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

participation (including library assignments & debates)




3 co-curricular reflection papers


quiz #2


quiz #1 & 3



NB: If you have any questions about how you're doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.

 Required books

Inquiry 111. Littleton: Tapestry Press, 2008.

Westminster College's Library Handbook.

Johnson, Steven, The Ghost Map. New York: Riverhead Books, 2006. [summer reading]

Steven E. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York: Harper Perennial, 2009.

 Recommended books (* = highly recommended)

  Anderson, Walter Truet. Reality Isn't What It Used to Be: Theatrical Politics, Ready-to-Wear Religion, Global Myths, Primitive Chic, and Other Wonders of the Postmodern World. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1992.
* Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.


Cunningham, Lawrence S. and John J. Reich. Culture & Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Alternate Volume. 6th edition. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1990.

* Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 3rd ed. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1996.
* Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. New York: William Morrow, 2009.

Naugle, David K. Worldview: The History of a Concept. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2002.

* Percy, Walker. Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book. New York: Picador, 1983.
* _______. The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do With the Other. New York: Picador, 2000.
* _______. Signposts in a Strange Land. New York: Picador, 1991.


Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1979. (See my Resources page under Miscellaneous for the first edition of Strunk.)

 Resources to consider


See my Resources page for McGill, AV & Web resources.


R-drive: for helpful materials, check the course folder.

 Keeping informed and in touch

During the semester check your e-mail regularly for the latest messages from me regarding course matters. For updates to the syllabus, visit and reload this page regularly, as well as my home page for other information and resources related to the course. Please feel free to make an appointment any time about any course matters.

 One last word …

Regardless of how demanding all of this is, I’m pretty much a nice guy. I promise to be as fair as possible. I recognize that you’ll be very busy this semester pursuing various obligations and passions. I understand. I have my passions too, e.g., my wonderful family, music, philosophy, nature, mountain biking, fixing things, food. But I’m also very passionate about education, both yours and mine—I don’t just mean the business of acquiring knowledge, but more importantly the total development of honorable human beings. I don't require you to share my excitement about all the things we'll cover, but I do expect you to complete the requirements for the course. To help you do that as well as you can, I will make myself available outside the class time and the office hours. I'll be more than glad to help you out when you're stuck while doing an assignment. Or if you have any questions, concerns, complaints, and even compliments, I will do my best to take the time to listen and offer my response. Keep in mind that I'm here to help you learn. So, again, welcome to Westminster's Honors Program and to Honors Inquiry 111!

 C o u r s e   S c h e d u l e MWF 1250–1350          OM 213



= required

> = recommended

bold = primary focus text for presentation & class discussion

highlight = R-drive file


Class / topics

red bold = dates to remember

Week 1


Aug 31 W

Sep 2

Sep 5

Course syllabus and the Honors Scholar Handbook (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)

Copy all relevant course Web pages to your hard disk or diskette


Inquiry preliminaries (Inquiry, v–xvi)
Westminster College Mission Statement

Westminster College Academic Integrity Policy

Fisher: Effective Learning (also in Inquiry text) Newman: The Idea of a University (excerpts)

Begin "reading" (skimming) Harris;

see tab directory & table of content

Think about the research paper topics


Recommended readings

Introduction to Honors Inquiry 111 & Liberal arts education


Optical conditioning

Optical illusion

World-view (context & perspective)

Number chaos-order




•Reminder: bring your written Qs & Cs to each class (see Participation)



Week 2

Sep 7 W

Sep 9

Sep 12

Newman: The Idea of a University (excerpts)

Westminster College Mission Statement

Finkelmeyer: Grades

Josefson: Learning Is Not Fun

Plato: Allegory of the Cave (take notes showing analysis of the allegory): draw the cave described in the allegory

Andersen: The Emperor's New Clothes

Intro to Honors Inquiry 111


Integrity & cultural ethos

Nature of knowledge

Growing pains, growing gains

Video: "What is Philosophy?"

Week 3


Sep 14 W

Sep 16

Sep 19

Plato: Allegory of the Cave

Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

Calandra: Angels on a Pin

Csikszentmihalyi: Veils of Maya

Recommended readings

Sep 19: Last day for proposal submission ( and R-drive; file name = "last name proposal.doc"; see example of file name on R-drive)

What's worth knowing?

Multitude of perspectives:

Can a physicist & a mystic see together?

Can a biology major & a philosophy major talk?

Seeing is believing?

Seeing through (despite) veils?

Week 4

Sep 21 W

Sep 23

Sep 26

Presentation evaluation: be ready to offer each presenter good critique (focus is not on summary but on the critical response evident in the presentations)


Newman: The Idea of a University (excerpts)

Shapiro: Liberal Education, Moral Education

Westminster College: Mission Statement

Genesis: The Tree of Knowledge

Fisher: Effective Learning (also in Inquiry text)

Josefson: Learning Is Not Fun

Gioia: Words (also in Inquiry text with intro)

Scudder: Learning to See

Fisher: Effective Learning (also in Inquiry text)

Sep 26: Quiz 1new

Presentation: Waszyn (Newman)

Going institutional: the purpose of liberal arts education

The genesis of the human condition

Epistemology and language


Recommended readings

Week 5


Sep 28 W

Sep 30

Oct 3

Bohannan: Shakespeare in the Bush

Menkiti: Person and Community in African Traditional Thought

Miner: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

Miner: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema (also here)

Rachels: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Taking Sides: Herskovits: "Cultural Relativism and Cultural Values" & Pojman: "Ethical Relativism: Who's to Judge What's Right and Wrong?" (study questions)

Propaganda Alert & Questions to Ask (NB: helpful for reading texts & writing research papers)

Maslow: Defense and Growth

Cross-cultural understanding: hermeneutical circles and contexts

Presentation: Seitz (Rachels)

What's convincing about Rachels's arguments?

What's not so convincing?

Oct 3: Information literacy instruction (meet in McGill Library)
Growing pains, growing gains

>WC Library Handbook


Recommended readings

Oct 7 F

Movie night with the Nas 7:46 PM-ish

Feel free to bring DVDs or VHSs of movies you think your classmates should see.

directions on the R-drive or here (view in MS Word: in menu, click View>Print Layout) or click here

Week 6


Oct 5 W

Oct 7

Oct 10

Maslow: Defense and Growth

Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity

Luke: The Good Samaritan (also Cotton Patch: Lk 10.25–37)

Fisher: Effective Learning (also in Inquiry text)

Mill: Considerations on Representative Government, ch. 3new

Kennedy: Inaugural address

Hughes: Let America Be America Again

Oct 5: Information literacy instruction (meet in McGill Library)

Growing pains, growing gains

Oct 7: Information literacy instruction (meet in McGill Library)
Who's the neighbor?

Oct 10: Library assignment due (R-drive; file name = "last name library.doc"; see example of file name on R-drive)

Oct 10: Quiz 1new

•Presentation: Schramm (Mill)new

Week 7


Oct 12 W

Oct 14

Oct 17

George: "Natural Law and Civil Rights" (also at my.westminster and on the R-drive)

Copland: What to Listen for in Music

Cox: Strategies for Looking (cf. context & perspective)

Scudder: Learning to See

 (cf. context & perspective)

Fisher: Effective Learning (also in Inquiry text)

Einstein: Science and Religion (NB Einstein's claim: "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can at any time prove me wrong.") See also this or this.

Dawkins: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

Dawkins-McGrath debate (23 Mar 2007): Part 1; Part 2 (also 7 part video)

McGrath-Atkins debate (27 Mar 2007; 1hr 19min)

Propaganda Alert & Questions to Ask (NB: helpful for reading texts & writing research papers)

•Presentation: Rinehart (George)

•Presentation: Jubic (Copland)

The other arts in liberal arts

Debate: hearing or sight?

•Presentation: Howells (Einstein)

The complementary roles of science & religion?

"Debate/discussion": Dawkins v. McGrath


2010 Henderson Lecture

7 PM, 12 Octobernew


attendance highly recommended


Recommended readings

Week 8


Oct 19 W

Oct 21


Oct 22–24 (break)


Oct 25 T

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)


Perkins: Letting Go (also in Inquiry text; see video on R-drive)

Levitt & Dubner: An Explanatory Note; Introduction; Bonus Matter

The Westminster Plan (also online)
What is Liberal Learning (cf. online)
Statement on Liberal Learning (also online)
Genesis: The Tree of Knowledge

Gioia: Words (also in Inquiry text with intro)

Oct 19: read Prof. Perkins's story "Letting Go" in the Inquiry reader before attending his talk in Witherspoon-Lakeview at 12:50; bring at least 2 questions to ask the author (esp. about writing)new

The art of thinking & the
art of questioning

Oct 21: Quiz 2

Video: “Does Morality Depend on One's Culture?” (NB: take notes for class discussion)new

Week 9


Oct 26 W

Oct 28

Oct 31

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 1: schoolteachers & sumo wrestlers

Genesis: The Tree of Knowledge

Gioia: Words (also in Inquiry text with intro)

•Presentation: Hiltz (Levitt & Dubner)

Frog leap test (for fun & challenge)

•Presentation: Hess (Levitte & Dubner)

•Presentation: Girata (Levitte & Dubner)

Week 10


Nov 2 W

Nov 4

Nov 7

Levitt & Dubner: ch 2: Ku Klux Klan & real estate agents; "Why Vote" (pp. 23842)
Letter from clergy

King: Letter from Birmingham Jail

George: "Natural Law and Civil Rights" (also at my.westminster and on the R-drive)

Mill: Representative Government, ch. 3; also here new

 Please Vote on Nov 8

Presentation: Crace (Levitt & Dubner)

Presentation: Campbell (Levitt & Dubner)

•Presentation: Schramm (King, George)new

Levitt & Dubner & George (The Clash of Orthodoxies)

Week 11


Nov 9 W

Nov 11

Nov 14

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 3: drug dealers

Charles Seife's Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

Mock Convention (Nov 9–10)

Peer paper critiquenew

Levitt & Dubner

The art of thinking & the art of questioning

Week 12


Nov 16 W

Nov 18

Nov 21


Nov 23–27 (break)

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 4: criminals

John J. Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt, "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime" (cf. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce" & Freakonomics, chap. 4: "Where Have All the Criminals Gone")


John D. Mueller, "Dismal Science" (click on "view as PDF" for the print version)

Dawkins: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

Propaganda Alert & Questions to Ask (NB: helpful for reading texts & writing research papers)

For Nov 21 (read critically & look into other sources)new
McNerney & Cheek: Alternative Energy

Farrell: Sun & Wind

Mellino: Walmart

Obama: Cardinal Fastener

Levitt & Dubner

How "objective" is "science"? To whom should we listen? Why?


Nov 18: Quiz 3

•Nov 21: Science in Motion (with Prof. Boylan)new

Week 13


Nov 28 M

Nov 30

Dec 2

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 5: parent

Levitt & Dubner

Cause and correlation


eek 14


Dec 5 M

Dec 7

Dec 9

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 6: parent, pt. 2; Epilogue

Dec 9: Last day for research paper submission (R-drive; file name = "last name paper.doc"; see example of file name on R-drive)


Levitt & Dubner

Cause and correlation


Dec 14 W

Reading Day

•Last day for extra credit papers: Dec 14 (R-drive; file name = "last name extra.doc")

Final period


Dec 16 F

Bring a written list of
1) the most influential readings,
2) the least significant readings, and
3) the most challenging experiences during the semester.

Be able to expound your lists for peer responses.

Final class: 08001030


Final thoughts (Or: Anything and everything you've wanted to ask Prof. Na but were too afraid or busy to ask)

The art of thinking & the art of questioning

Quo vadis?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


Westminster's Honors page
Na home