UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I: Service LearningSpace and PlaceFall 2019Instructor: Joseph W. CatesEmail: [email protected]Office Location: 5156 Harris HallOffice Phone: (804) 432-3655Office Hours: Wednesday 10am-4pmSections: 8am, 9:30am, 12:30pmSLTAs: Valerie Iaconangelo, Suzye Quirk, Holly Desalvo, Melanie Wendo, Julian Dunston, Ashley Galicia-PerezWhat is Focused Inquiry?Focused Inquiry is about asking questions. Good questions. Thoughtful questions. Probing questions. Andall kinds of questions: What is the meaning of justice? Are pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid epidemic? Why is there a decline in the global birth rate? What is the cultural function of cosplay?As the first part of a three-semester course sequence, UNIV 111 builds the foundational skills essential forsuccess in both your chosen field of study at VCU and in your profession. We think about what makes a good question. We think hard about the meanings of the questions we ask and about what kinds of evidence might answer those questions, whichever way the evidence leads (critical thinking). We ask ethical questions—questions about what we shouldor should notdo—and we contextualize our claims for people with different beliefs (ethical reasoning). We find credible evidence in reliable sources and critically interpret that evidence (information fluency). We analyze statistics in those sources, considering the meaning behind those numbers and how they help us understand and answer our questions (quantitative literacy). We work with others to formulate good questions, to seek answers, and to present our findings (collaborative work). And we present, individually and collectively, the answers to questions,both in writing and in speech and in a variety of contexts (written communication andspoken communication).What we’ve just described are the seven core skills of Focused Inquiry:1. Critical Thinking2. Ethical Reasoning3. Information Fluency4. Quantitative Literacy5. Collaborative Work6. Written Communication7. Spoken CommunicationNone of these skills can stand alone; they depend on one another. Thought without expression is inert. Evidence without data is guesswork. Evidence without responsibility is dangerous. And so on. Taken together, these seven skills are the foundation not only of academic work but also of the intellectual skepticism and rigor required of engaged and responsible citizens. That’s you!
What is SERVICE LEARNING?Congratulations! You are lucky enough to have been enrolled in one of the few Service Learning sections of Focused Inquiry currently offered at VCU. Focused Inquiry is a unique way to approach the development of collegiate communications, critical thinking, and ethical reasoning in the context of real world problems facing our local community. Additionally, by taking a Service Learning section you will have the opportunity to not only read, write, and research contemporary societal problems, you will also have the opportunity to get engaged in solutions. Our motto: “Explore the issues, then do something about them.”