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Syllabus, Fall Quarter 2015

Cara N. Stoddard | | 425-259-8795
J Pod: Mon, Tues, Thurs 9:00am-10:05am & Wed 10:35am-11:30am
K Pod: Mon, Tues, Thurs 10:10am-11:15am & Wed 9:00am-9:55am
Office Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs 11:30am-12:30pm, or by appointment

Why bother conducting an experiment at all if you know what results it will yield? Maybe every essay automatically is in some way experimental
not an outline traveling toward a foregone conclusion but an unmapped quest that has sprung from the word question. I don't know where the journey
ends; otherwise, why call this action journey?
John DAgata
This class is designed as a 10-week quest to critically examine the essential questions:
what is nature
what, if any, is the value of nature
and, how does a persons unique experiences shape how they relate to the natural world
My goal is that through an immersion into some of the most beloved American nature essays of the past 200 years, you will
expand your understanding of the varied and diverse perspectives on nature as well as begin to pinpoint what experiences and
texts have shaped your own perspective and values regarding nature.
Humanities is an academic discipline that studies humanity and human culture through critical inquiry similar to what you will
be doing in Ocean Teach this quarter, but the evidence you use in Humanities will come from the texts we read rather than the
data you and your classmates have gathered on SOPS cruises. The end goal of humanities is less about finding the right
answer or pinpointing a singular, concrete answer and more about what we can gain as individuals and as a group from the
process of examining, critiquing, and empathizing with different authors perspectives and values. The name humanities is
often used as an umbrella term to include many disciplines in language arts (foreign languages, world religions, literature,
philosophy, and music) and the social sciences (anthropology, archeology, sociology, history, and the classics). In this
humanities class, we will study American literature (nonfiction and poetry), history, philosophy, and visual arts.
To think with any seriousness is to doubt. Thought is indistinguishable from doubt. To be alive is to be uncertain. I'll take doubt. The essayist
argues with himself, and the essayist argues with the reader. The essay enacts doubt; it embodies it as a genre. David Foster Wallace
Through writing and revising several personal philosophical statements throughout the quarter, you will have the opportunity
to try out new ideas, articulate what your gut tells you is the right way to think about nature, and, most importantly, to
express doubt. I believe writing is a mode of critical thought that situates the self within the context of contemporary culture.
So often our human impulse to connect with the world around us comes from personal relevance, so in reading each of the
essays for this class, you should be searching for what in that author reminds you a little of yourself.

To do well in this class, you need only to have an authentic sense of curiosity to be constantly asking big, open-ended
questions as you read and a sense of self-awarenessthe ability to look at your own opinions and views as an outsider would.
Throughout this class, you will continually reexamine where you are at in your thinking about the natural world that you grew
up in. Essentially, you will begin to name your foundation or your starting place for how you think about nature.
No culture has yet solved the dilemma each has faced with the growth of a conscious mind: how to live a moral and compassionate existence when one
is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in all life, when one finds darkness not only in ones own culture but within oneself. If there is a stage
at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the
midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are
simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of a leaning into the
Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

By the end of the course, you should be very good at:
1. Creating a broad understanding of different perspectives on nature and the resulting differences in the value of nature
Analyzing multiple differing perspectives on a single topic
Reflecting on your own changing perspectives on a single topic re: nature
Detailing potential ramifications of your own and others perspectives on nature
Demonstrating an understanding of a holistic approach to negotiating nature
Demonstrating the ability to find connections between cultural understandings of the environment and
quantitatively derived scientific understandings
2. Demonstrating capacity to build community through dialogue and consensus-building
Reflecting on efforts to find and capitalize on common ground
Demonstrating familiarity with different strategies for building consensus
Reflecting on value of building community through dialogue
3. Demonstrating critical thinking, reading, viewing, listening, and composing skills
Demonstrating capacity for summary, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
Actively questioning, clarifying, and connecting while reading and listening
Analyzing visuals through perspective, line, color, composition, and texture
Utilizing effective organization strategies in writing
Creating a logical flow of ideas
Establishing and maintaining a formal but engaging voice
Editing all written documents as if they are intended for publication

Encounters with the Archdruid | 1971
John McPhee | 978-03745143

The Norton Book of Nature Writing | 1990

Robert Finch & John Elder


**All essays are due by the start of class on the day listed.
Tuesday, 29 September 2-page Preserve and Protect Essay Due
Thursday, 15 October Perspective Essay Due
Monday, 16 November Value Essay Due
Monday, 7 December Final Portfolio Due @10am
Note: Because of the extensive and time-consuming nature of the comments I make on each student essay I read, I usually
take 2 full weeks to grade and return essays. Thank you in advance for your patience. If you have questions on a draft
while you wait for formal feedback, dont hesitate to come by my office during office hours (or email me a time) and we can
look through your essay together.

The bulk of the work for this class is readingand keeping up with the daily readings, reading them critically, reading all the
way to the end, marking them up, and taking notes while reading are crucial to being able to do well on the writing
assignments for this class.
There are two 4-page writing assignmentsthe Perspective Essay and the Value Essayin this class, and you will be writing
each essay essentially twiceonce for feedback from me (your 1st draft) and once for the Final Portfolio. Both the Perspective
Essay and the Value Essay are opportunities for you to assert your own view on nature, explore the roots for where that view
comes from (what experiences in your life or identities you hold as crucial to who you are), and respond to the authors we
have been reading in class.
The First Drafts of these two major essaysPerspective and Valueare graded out of 40 points, and your score is based on
satisfactory completion of the objectives of the assignment as well as thoroughness (meeting the minimum page requirement).
I also will give you a projected score using the rubric that I use to grade your revision (for the Final Portfolio) so you know
what areas are weakest and need the most attention.
The Final Portfolio consists of a revision of your Perspective Essay, a revision of your Value essay, plus a Statement of
Philosophy on Your Approach to Nature, and a short reflection on own critical thinking and growth as a communicator. I will
be looking for substantial revisions (massive overhauls) on these two essays between your first draft and the draft you include
in the Final Portfolio. Revision, in the truest sense, means re-seeing; as such, I expect that you will significantly alter your
thesis or one or more of your examples (from the texts weve been reading) so that one (or more) of your paragraphs is
entirely new in both the Perspective Essay and the Value Essay. Simply editing your essay and turning it in again is not
satisfactory work for the Final Portfolio.

Participation (Canvas Discussion Board posts, 2-page Preserve and Protect Essay, and other homework
First Drafts (includes the Perspective Essay and Value Essay only)
Final Portfolio (60% Revised Perspective and Value essays and 40% for Personal Philosophy and Growth as
a Learner)

Grading scale:




All work that is turned in after the due date will receive a zero; however, I will still give you qualitative feedback in the margins,
so please do still turn in all of your work, even if it is late.

Students do not lose points for missing class, but experiences such as presentations, workshops, discussions, in-class
activities, and guest speakers will not be repeated and most cannot be made up. Students are responsible for any
announcements and schedule changes made during class and on Canvas. Students are also responsible for turning in all
work on time, regardless of absences. You can email me your work as an attachment at any time either through Canvas
Conversations or regular email.


Classroom citizenship. This is a discussion-based course designed to build relationships with other members of your cohort

who you will be studying with for the next two years. I do not require people to raise their hand in class, but I do expect you
to extend the common courtesy to others to wait until someone is finished talking before you speak (do not interrupt) and that
you will refrain from dominating the conversation. If you notice that you are often the first person to offer an answer, check
yourself and wait until one or two others have spoken in order to be sure you are giving your classmates time to formulate
their own thoughts.
We will be discussing sensitive topics and looking at each others personal writing in this course, and I expect you to treat each
other with dignity and respect in Humanities, in your other classes at ORCA, and outside of class. Please be considerate of
others ideas and beliefs and do not discuss the content of others papers with students outside of your Pod. My hope is that
each of you will extend extra respect and sensitivity toward your classmates, especially those who write about their own
vulnerabilities based on their race, color, national origin, ethnicity, citizen status, sex, health, disability, sexual orientation,
gender identity, or religion. If you feel your well-being is being jeopardized or you have observed someone else being treated
disrespectfully in our outside of class, please come speak to me about it privately after class or during my office hours.

Readings. In accordance with ORCAs mission statement to encourage active, responsible, and inquisitive learners, this class

has been intentionally designed to include readings that represent a diverse set of perspectives and peoples. Many of the
readings express points of view on controversial social and political issues. In this class you will most certainly encounter texts

with comments that seem dated or offensive (outside of their historical context) and with viewpoints that differ from your
own. My hope is that you will grow as an individual by engaging maturely in worthwhile discussion and explore ideas that may
be outside of your individual preferences and comfort levels.

Canvas. In order to promote habits and skill-sets unique to scholars of the 21st century, this course has a corresponding

Learning Management Site located online called Canvas. You will be expected to check our Canvas page every day for a
detailed description of the homework, and you will be submitting some assignments and participating in Discussion Boards on
Canvas. To access Canvas, click on the third link from the left at the top of the Everett Community College homepage.

Because of the personal nature of the writing assignments in this class, it is unlikely that you will be tempted to plagiarize, but
here is a refresher on what to avoid when trying to attribute ideas and quotations that are not your original work.
The two basic kinds of plagiarism:
1. Malicious or intentional. This is the most serious kind of academic theft. It involves presenting someone elses work
as your own, directly copy-pasting from a source (including Wikipedia) without using quotation marks or citations,
rephrasing and summarizing someone elses ideas without citations, or re-submitting your own work from a previous
2. Plagia-phrasing or mosaic plagiarism. This is when you use quotation marks around large chunks (more than 4
sentences) of text from a source that you wanted to quote or when you use a paraphrase that has too many of the
same words as the original text. Even if you cite these texts as a general sources at the end of the essay in a Works
Cited, this is still considered plagiarism because, in the act of trying to use a quote sandwich or re-word the passage
into your own words, you ended up relying too heavily on someone elses ideas and wording. This kind of plagiarism
also involves integrating source material (as a quote or paraphrase) without citing your source in the sentences / paragraphs
themselves (in other words you are missing the in-text citation). Even if several different sources were copied or
combined, it is still plagiarism.
The consequences of plagiarism:
If an essay involves plagiarism of the second variety (plagia-phrasing) and this is your first offense while in the ORCA, you
will be required to set up an appointment with me outside of class time to work on accurately integrating outside texts (first
offense only). Then you will have 24 hours from this meeting to rewrite and re-submit the paper using correct forms of
documentation in order to receive creditI will regrade the essay with a 10% point deduction.
If your writing involves plagiarism of the first variety (malicious or intentional) or the second variety after I have already
spoken with you once, you will also be asked to sign a contract and be placed on probation. Additionally, you will need to rewrite that essay in order to be able to use it in your Portfolio at the end of the quarter. On a second serious offense for
plagiarism or cheating, students who are on probation may be asked to leave ORCA.
A final word on plagiarism: I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that you will do honest work and that
you will work with me on improving writing that is your own. I understand the occasional temptation to overzealously copypastebut I am surprisingly good at recognizing plagiarism. My basic message is Do Not Do It. When you want to take
something from another persons workan idea, a powerful statement, a set of facts, or an explanationcite your source.

Writing Center. I hope that if you have questions about a draft or want some early feedback on your writing before the due
date or during revisions, that you will set up an appointment to meet with me (either during or outside of my office hours). If
you would like additional feedback on your writing, you may schedule a 25- or 50-min appointment with a tutor in the Writing
Center on main campus (Gray Wolf Hall room 320/322) by calling 425-388-9406.
Disability and Support Services. Everett Community College abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which
stipulates that no student shall be denied the benefits of an education solely by reason of a handicap. Disabilities covered by
law include, but are not limited to, learning disabilities, psychological disabilities, health impairments, hearing, and sight or
mobility impairments. If you have a disability that may have some impact on your work in this class and for which you may
require accommodations, please see me or the Center for Disability Services (located on main campus in Parks 267, right
across from the bookstore) so that such accommodations may be arranged. Call 425-388-9272 or email for
more info.