UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I: Fall 2019Instructor: Nicole Anderson EllisEmail: [email protected]Office Location: 5155 Harris Hall Office Hours: M-F 1-2 for drop in, and anytime by appointmentTeaching Assistant: ___________________________________What is Focused Inquiry?Focused Inquiry is about asking questions. Good questions. Thoughtful questions. Probing questions. And all 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 responsibility does a society have to care for its most vulnerable members?As the first part of a three-semester course sequence, UNIV 111 builds the foundational skills essential for success 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!Inclusive ClassroomsVCU and the University College value inclusive classrooms in which all participants collaborate to maintain an environment where we can think critically about a wide variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and identities. Inclusive classrooms promote a thoughtful exchange of ideas and 1
insights and support the VCU Mission of developing “a climate of trust, honesty and integrity where all people are valued and differences are recognized as an asset."To this end:Official documents may not reflect the name you would like to use in this classroom; I invite you to tell me your name and discuss with me any other related issues, such as what pronouns you use, etc.