new presentation schedule (posted 16 Sep. 2014)

new terms link under "Terms" (posted 17 Sep. 2014)

new readings for week 6 ff. (posted 29 Sep. 2014)

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)

The growing precision of our understanding should enhance, and not diminish our sense of wonder. (Alfred Brendel)

In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase in sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1.18)

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])

ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ. (= Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.; Socrates)

ΓΝĹΘΙ ΣΕΑΥΤΟΝ. (= Γνῶθι σεαυτόν.; Temple of Apollo at Delphi)new



Na home

Westminster College

Inquiry 111: Seeing Anew . . . Again

Fall 2014

Welcome to Westminster College and to Inquiry 111. The course title describes our general objective, which is to inquire and learn how to learn, especially by learning how to formulate and refine questions. For details, please see the the Inquiry reader.

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 Faith Craig, Director of Disability Resources: 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.

There are three outcomes and objectives of Inquiry 111:

  1) 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

As we pursue these Inquiry aims, and 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 (N.B. 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.

N.B.: If you have any questions about any assignment, please ask in class or make an appointment to see me.

N.B.: If you have any questions about any evaluation or how you are doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.




Assigned readings should be completed before the class 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 in response to the readings (see Participation). Cultivate the ability to ask informed questions about the readings based on the knowledge you gain along the way; the demonstration of your ability to formulate questions will affect the evaluation of your semester grade. The primary focus of the course will be on discussing the bolded assigned readings in class (see schedule below). Keeping notes on the readings is highly recommended. I would encourage you to use this form for every reading assignment (also on my.westminster).

N.B.: Not all the assigned readings may be covered in class discussions or exams, but they are assigned for your edification in achieving the goals of the course. The more you refer to them in class and in your work, the better your mastery of the readings will be. Your use of them in class discussion and in your work will affect the evaluation of your semester grade.

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)—or one main point(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 and main portion of the presentation

Include within your presentation critical questions, challenges, discoveries, insights, etc. for the class discussion that will follow your 10-minute presentation.

See my Evaluation page under Presentations for evaluation criteria. Submit your PowerPoint presentation on the R-drive before coming to class to present (Assignments folder; 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 write a paper (600–800 words) after the week we spend in the library for information literacy instruction. See the schedule below and ask the instructor for further details on the library

Co-curricular activities

You will attend or participate in at least 3 co-curricular activities (you are encouraged to attend as many and as often as you can). They can be plays, speeches, campus events, community service, etc.

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

You may choose from among the various activities available throughout the semester. If you are not sure something qualifies as a co-curricular activity, ask me before you write the paper.


For 3 co-curricular activities of your choosing, you must submit a reflection paper (800–1,200 words) within 5 class days after each of them. The substantial portion of the reflection paper should articulate your critical reflection on the co-curricular activity and how it relates to:

• at least one of the readings thus far in the semester and
• the summer reading

Incorporate your reflections on how the co-curricular activity relates to liberal arts education and to Inquiry themes. Include in a footnote information about the co-curricular, e.g., title of the event, kind of activity, place, date, time, duration, attendees.

Follow the guidelines for Written assignments. Submit your paper at with the following pattern for file names: last name co-cur 1.doc.

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 October 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.



You will write a research paper (1,500–2,000 words) on a topic of your choice (see Harris: tab 10, esp. 61b and 61c). 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. 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 a paper proposal that includes:

a thoughtful 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, esp. 61d)


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 (N.B.: 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 quizzes (ca. 30 minutes) and a midterm exam (ca. 45 minutes). They will cover the materials in the course you will have learned by the time of the tests. There may be pop quizzes, the results of which will affect the evaluation of your participation. See my Evaluation page under Quizzes and examinations.


Grades will be assigned as fairly as possible. See my Evaluation page under Grades for more information. The final grade for the course will consist of the following:

• research paper


Participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

participation (including pop quizzes)




library assignment


3 co-curricular reflection papers


midterm exam   


quiz #1 & 3



N.B.: If you have any questions about any assignment, please ask in class or make an appointment to see me.

N.B.: If you have any questions about any evaluation or how you are doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.



You may earn extra credit any time during the semester.

•   Submit a paper consisting of 700–1,000 words critically relating something from popular culture (e.g., movie, play, TV show, book, any performance) to a particular course topic or text (consult the instructor for approval). It should demonstrate your ability to analyze popular culture in connection with Inquiry texts and themes (including the summer reading).

•   The paper should be mostly critique (not mere summary or description).


N.B.: The instructor reserves the right to make the final determination concerning any extra credit. You can earn a maximum of 5% toward the final grade. You may write more than one, if you wish, but you will not receive more than 5% total in extra credit.


Required books

Inquiry 111. Littleton: Tapestry Press, 2008.

Westminster College's Library Handbook.

Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2011. [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. 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, and Web resources.

R-drive: course folder and the “NaFiles” folder

Course pages on my.westminster


Keeping in touch

During the semester check your e-mail regularly for messages regarding course matters (e.g., changes in the syllabus). Visit and reload (refresh) this page for updates to the syllabus; see also my homepage for other information and resources related to the course. Please feel free to make an appointment any time about any course matters.


Tips from former students

For some practical advice from former students, see the tips page.


One last word . . .

Regardless of how demanding all of this is, I promise to be as fair as possible. I recognize that you will be very busy this semester pursuing various obligations and passions. I understand. I have my passions too, e.g., my family, music, philosophy, nature, mountain biking, fixing things, food. But I am also very passionate about education, both yours and mine—I mean not just the business of acquiring knowledge but more importantly the total development of honorable human beings. I do not require you to share my excitement about all the things we will cover, but I do expect you to do your best to complete the requirements for the course. To help you do that, I will make myself available outside the class time and the office hours. I will be glad to help you when you are struggling with 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 am here to help you learn. So again, welcome to Westminster and to Inquiry 111.

Course schedule MWF 1250–1350     PH 108

INQ 111

= required

+ = in the library (N.B.: Please do not check them out, so that others may read them in the library.)

bold = primary text(s) for presentation or class (discussion)

> = recommended / suggested

Week 1


Aug 25 M

Aug 27

Aug 29

General orientation: introduction to Inquiry 111 & liberal arts education

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

Inquiry preliminaries: Inquiry, v–xix
Westminster College Mission Statement

Westminster College Academic Integrity Policy

The Westminster Plan (also online)
What is Liberal Education? (cf. online)

Statement on Liberal Learning (also online)

Fisher: Effective Learning (pp. 3 & 6; 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

Remember: bring your written Qs & Cs to each class (see Participation).

Copy all relevant Web pages and resources to your hard disk or flash drive, etc. for easy access. Keep the copies updated.

Optical conditioning

Optical illusion

World-view (context & perspective)

Number chaos-order


>Recommended readings

Week 2


Sep 1 M

Sep 3

Sep 5

Intro to Inquiry 111 & liberal arts education

Newman: The Idea of a University (excerpts)

Westminster College Mission Statement

The Westminster Plan (also online)
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
Fiamengo: "The Unteachables: A Generation that Cannot Learn"

>Movie The Matrix (highly recommended for comparison with Plato; can be borrowed from AV)

>The Greeks (interactive site): read about Socrates, Plato, etc.

>Do you know how to think? (a self-exam)

>Recommended reading

Week 3

Sep 8 M

Sep 10

Sep 12

Sep 8: last day for proposal submission (

Epistemology: 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?

Plato: Allegory of the Cave (Plato study guide)

Shapiro: Liberal Education, Moral Education (Shapiro study guide)

Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

Calandra: Angels on a Pin

Josefson: Learning Is Not Fun

>The Matrix (highly recommended movie for comparison with Plato; can be borrowed from the library)

Week 4


Sep 15 M

Sep 17

Sep 19

Sep 19: Quiz 1

Going institutional: the purpose of liberal arts education: Seeing through (despite) veils?

Csikszentmihalyi: Veils of Maya

Newman: The Idea of a University (excerpts)

Westminster College: Mission Statement

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

>Recommended readings

Week 5


Sep 22 M

Sep 24

Sep 26

Sep 22–26: Information literacy instruction (meet in McGill Lab); see My Westminster for assignment instructionsnew

Csikszentmihalyi: Veils of Maya

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

Sep 25: movie night with the Nas 7:46 PM-ish
Feel free to bring DVDs of movies you think your classmates should see. For directions click here.

Week 6


Sep 29 M

Oct 1

Oct 3

Sep 30: last day for co-curricular paper #1 (

Oct 3: last day for the library assignment (

Csikszentmihalyi: Veils of Mayanew

Maslow: Defense and Growthnew

>calendar matters

Oct 1: Henderson Lecture: 7 PM, Witherspoon-Maple (attendance highly recommended)

Week 7


Oct 6 M

Oct 8

Oct 10

The human condition: •the Genesis of the human condition •the art of thinking & the art of questioning •epistemology and language

Oct 8: meet in Witherspoon-Maple: read Dr. Perkins's story "Tenebrae for Lonnie" in the Inquiry reader and see the video before attending his talk in Witherspoon-Lakeview; bring at least 2 questions to ask the author (esp. about writing)

Genesis: The Tree of Knowledge
Scudder: Learning to See
Gioia: Words

Week 8


Oct 13 M

Oct 15

Oct 17

Cross-cultural understanding: •hermeneutical circles and contexts

Oct 15: midterm

•Presentation: Roberts (Levitt & Dubner)


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

The Westminster Plan (also online)
What is Liberal Education? (cf. online)
Statement on Liberal Learning (also online)

Fisher: Effective Learning (also in Inquiry text)

Csikszentmihalyi: Veils of Maya

Rachels: "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" or here

Menkiti: Person and Community in African Traditional Thought

Bohannan: Shakespeare in the Bush

Miner: Body Ritual Among the Nacirema (also here)

Levitt & Dubner: An Explanatory Note; Introduction; Bonus Matter
Presentation evaluation: be ready to offer each presenter good critique (focus is not on summary but on the critical response evident in the presentations)new

>Recommended readings

Taking Sides (study questions):new

Herskovits: "Cultural Relativism and Cultural Values"new


Pojman: "Ethical Relativism: Who's to Judge What's Right and Wrong?"new

under construction

Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity

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

>The Cotton Patch NT

>The "Parable of the Good Samaritan" with a humorous twist

>Hughes: Let America Be America Again

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

>Kennedy: Inaugural address

Growing pains, growing gains

Who's the neighbor?

>Recommended readings

Week 9


Oct 20 M

Oct 22

Oct 24

Oct 25–28


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

Copland: What to Listen for in Music

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

Scudder: Learning to See

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

>Recommended readings

•The art of thinking & the art of questioning

•Presentation: Roth (Levitt & Dubner)

•Presentation: Shuler (Levitt & Dubner OR Copland)

•Presentation: Thomas (Copland)

Frog leap test (for fun & challenge)

Week 10


Oct 29 W

Oct 31

Nov 3

Oct 31: last day for co-curricular paper #2 (

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

Mill: Representative Government, ch. 3; also here

Letter from clergy

King: Letter from Birmingham Jail

George: "Natural Law and Civil Rights" (also read this introduction)

The art of thinking & the art of questioning

Presentation: Trauner (Levitt & Dubner)

Oct 30: Faculty Scholarship Panels (co-cur options throughout the day)

Presentation: Troese (Levitt & Dubner OR King)

Presentation: Veahman (King OR George)


   Election Day Nov 4 

Week 11


Nov 5 W

Nov 7

Nov 10

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 3: drug dealers

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


Science and Religion (N.B. 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 (N.B.: helpful for reading texts & writing research papers)

The art of thinking & the art of questioning

Presentation: West (Levitt & Dubner)

Presentation: Wise (Levitt & Dubner OR Einstein)

Presentation: Curry (Einstein)

Peer paper critique

>Recommended readings

Week 12


Nov 12 W

Nov 14

Nov 17

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

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 4: criminals

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

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 (N.B.: helpful for reading texts & writing research papers)

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

Farrell: Sun & Wind

Mellino: Walmart

Obama: Cardinal Fastener

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

Presentation: Gagnon (Levitt & Dubner)

Presentation: Hassey (Donohue & Levitt & Mueller)

Presentation: Hemmelgarn (Levitt & Dubner)

Debate (?)

>Recommended readings

Week 13


Nov 19 W

Nov 21

Nov 24


Nov 26–30


Nov 25: last day for research paper (

Nov 30: last day for co-curricular paper #3 (

Levitt & Dubner: ch. 5: parent

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

>Recommended readings

Cause and correlation

Presentation: Jackson (Levitt & Dubner)

Nov 21: Quiz 3

Nov 24: Video: “Does Morality Depend on One's Culture?” (N.B.: take notes for class discussion)new

Week 14


Dec 1 M

Dec 3

Dec 5

St. Nicholaus

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

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

Cause and correlation

Presentation: McCollough (Levitt & Dubner)

Presentation: Oden (Levitt & Dubner)

Presentation: Reash (Levitt & Dubner)

Debate (?)

Dec 8 M

Final class: 11301400

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.

>O Little Town of Nazareth?

>Xmas Carol Quiz

>Xmas Quiz

Presentation: (Levitt & Dubner)

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?



Na home

Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. (G. K. Chesterton)

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