Pols 020 syllabus Fall, 2009

Pols 020 syllabus Fall, 2009 - SYLLABUS Pols 020...

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SYLLABUS Pols 020: Controversial Legal Issues Office: Clark Hall, 453 6 p.m. T, DMH 149a Phone: 924-5346 Professor Ken Nuger email: [email protected] Fall, 2009 Office Hours: 8:15-8:45, 1:30-3, T-TH and by appointment. Course Website: http://www.sjsu.edu/people/ken.nuger/ Course Objectives This course critically analyzes the complex relationship between individual liberty and the public interest. A major goal of this course is to introduce students to principles of critical thinking by examining legal environments that often embattle society against the individual. The goals of the class are diverse. First and foremost, students should become familiar with principles and patterns of critical thinking. Among some of the elements of critical thinking we shall explore are the following: 1) to understand the relationship between language and logic, 2) to distinguish informational claims from normative or prescriptive judgments, 3) to understand and practice the patterns of critical analysis and 4) to recognize how social applications of human self interest affect and distort sound analysis in the political arena. Since the course utilizes controversial legal issues as the subject matter in which critical thinking will be stressed, another course goal is to increase students' knowledge of the complex issues that frame these legal issues. Students will learn that legal issues cannot be fully appreciated without accounting for historical, psychological, sociological, economic and political realities. Students will become aware that controversy, if considered emotionally, breeds intolerance and ignorance. By definition, controversy suggests people find value in arguments others find abhorrent. The course will wrestle with why individual expressions of liberty often unsettle society. Exploring whether society chooses to favor individual rights or the public interest will prove a fascinating exercise in critical analysis. Another course goal is to acquaint students with traditional and electronic research materials. Finally, students will have ample opportunities to further develop their written and oral communication skills. Student Learning Objectives As mandated by university policy, all critical thinking courses for must further the following eight student learning objectives. They are: 1. distinguish between reasoning (e.g., explanation, argument) and other types of discourse (e.g., description, assertion); 2. identify, analyze, and evaluate different types of reasoning; 3. find and state crucial unstated assumptions in reasoning; 4. evaluate factual claims or statements used in reasoning, and evaluate the sources of evidence for such claims; 5. demonstrate an understanding of what constitutes plagiarism;
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6. evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system; 7. locate, retrieve, organize, analyze, synthesize, and communicate information of relevance to the subject matter of the course in an effective and efficient manner; and
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Pols 020 syllabus Fall, 2009 - SYLLABUS Pols 020...

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