2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

Work and the Human Condition

Revised Last Updated: 02/23/2009

Fall, Winter and Spring quarters

Faculty: Susan Preciso literature, Stephen Beck philosophy

Faculty Signature Required: spring quarter

Major areas of study include history, literature and philosophy.

Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 25% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.

Accepts Winter Enrollment: This program will accept new students. Contact faculty at Academic Fair or by email.

Accepts Spring Enrollment: This program will accept new students. Contact faculty at Academic Fair or by email.

Note: This 12-credit program will meet from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. First class Spring Quarter will meet in Sem2 B1105. There may also be one Saturday per quarter which is used for field trips, project presentations, or other program work.

In this year-long program, we will examine the nature and place of work in human life and culture. Studying literature, philosophy and history, we will develop an understanding of work that goes well beyond the concept of work as a way to pay the bills. We will consider important questions: Why is work important in a complete human life? What roles can it play both for an individual and for the whole social system? What ways of working should a person strive to practice? Who does what work? To better understand and critique challenging material, we’ll spend time improving skills in close reading, critical reasoning, writing clearly and well, and in research methods. We’ll examine the ways in which approaching an idea through different disciplinary lenses allows us to deepen our understanding of it— often complicating the picture in generative ways. We plan to build in time for study groups to meet and work together on reading and writing, recognizing the value we place on collaboration and how it enriches each community member’s experience with this intellectual work. Our primary lens will be Western; however, we will make some important connections and comparisons to other traditions as well.

During fall quarter, we’ll study ideas about the place of work in the human condition, beginning with some ancient foundational texts and continuing through medieval life and thought. Our reading fall quarter will include passages from the Bible, Plato, and the Stoics, and the Tao te Ching. We’ll read The Odyssey, then move to medieval ideas about work, as seen in art, philosophy, and literature—perhaps the Arthurian stories and selections from Chaucer. We’ll read Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition over all three quarters.

Winter quarter’s work will begin with the Protestant Reformation, the scientific revolution and mercantilism and proceed to the industrial revolution. Our reading will include John Locke, Adam Smith, Marx, Robinson Crusoe, some 19th century novels, and Daniel Rodgers’ The Work Ethic in Industrial America.

During spring quarter, students will read contemporary ideas about the values and challenges of work and working. They will also learn from people about the work they do, interviewing and taking oral histories. They will document work and working through writing and other media they find useful and effective.

Credits: 12 per quarter

Enrollment: 48

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in humanities, teaching and culture studies.

Planning Units: Programs for Freshmen, Culture, Text and Language, Society, Politics, Behavior and Change, 8-12 Credit Programs

Program Revisions

Date Revision
August 26th, 2008 Added location of first class
December 1st, 2008 Winter quarter enrollment details added.
January 14th, 2009 Faculty signature requirement added for spring quarter.
February 23rd, 2009 Spring Quarter class location added.
February 23rd, 2009 Spring Quarter enrollment details added.