INTG 101: Introduction to Liberal Arts, Fall 2020

This syllabus is subject to change based on specific class needs, especially the schedule. Significant deviations will be discussed in class. Individual exceptions to the policies and schedule are granted only in cases of true emergency. Please make arrangements with me if an emergency arises.




This seminar is required of all first year students and is taught by faculty from a number of different disciplines. Theme-related texts in the course raise basic questions about the variety of human experience, and about personal and shared values and goals. You are expected to think critically about issues raised, to participate in discussions, and to write papers on the works studied.

Aim and Goals

Introduction to Liberal Arts (ILA) is a transition into the Monmouth College learning community which values the spirit of inquiry in pursuit of academic excellence.

  1. Students will discover the liberal arts as a means to engage with questions of human values, purposes, and communities and as a means to explore connections among disciplines and diverse perspectives. Students will learn that a liberal arts education can be transformative, preparing them to pursue fulfilling personal and professional lives.
  2. Students will understand key components for engaging in the intellectual and personal challenges of college and for becoming life-long learners. These components include developing a strong and consistent work ethic, adopting an attitude of inquiry, functioning from a growth-mindset, and approaching all aspects of the transition to college with tenacity and resilience.
  3. Students will consider the dynamic relationships among Self, Stranger, and Community and will discover that their own sense of self and their engagement with the community affects their quality of life and the lives of those around them.
  4. Students will understand that reading is an active process that engages readers’ previous knowledge, requires attention to vocabulary and structure, and involves analysis and questioning. Reading provides a means to connect to ongoing conversations that can develop our understanding of ourselves and our world and is a source of not only learning, but also of enjoyment.

Required Materials

The following texts should have been provided to you:

Other sources will be posted on this webpage as needed.

In addition, you will need access to a computer or mobile with a camera and microphone for accessing Zoom class discussions, viewing online materials. A laptop/desktop computer is highly recommended over a mobile device. For virtual classes (the majority), you should have a text editor or word processor (e.g., Microsoft Word, Google Docs) open for in-class writing activities. When we are together in-person you may type on a laptop or write in a notebook (I suggest a notebook – if we are outside there may be a glare).


Assignments and Workload

The weekly workload for this course will vary by student and by week but should be about 12.3 hours per week on average. The following table provides a rough estimate of the distribution of time over different course components for a 16 week semester, as well as detailing the type, amount, and relative value of all assignments.

Category Final Grade Weight Time/Week (Hours)  
Lecture/Class Activities 20% (Participation) 3.3  
Assignments 65% 3  
Exams 15% -  
Reading (part of assignments) 3-6  

There are two basic types of assignments: reading-based assessments (45% of your grade) and experience-based writing (20% of your grade).

Your final grade is based on a weighted average of particular assignment categories. You can estimate your current grade based on your scores and these weights. You may always visit the instructor outside of class to discuss your current standing. Assignments and final grades use a standard grading scale shown below and will not be curved except in rare cases when deemed necessary by the instructor.

No extra credit will be given on an individual basis.

Reading-based Assessments

This is reading-focused course, so every day there will be reading assignment and a quiz, homework question(s), or writing assignment based on the reading. Examples include close-reading, annotation, or weekly mini-essay assignments.

Experience-based Writing

Experience-based assignments are short written assignments about outside (non-class) events, whether in person or virtual. You’ll be expected to write a short reflection about the event and relate it to the themes of the class. At various points during the semester you’ll also be asked to reflect on your participation and what you have learned about the liberal arts.

Final Exam

At the end of the semester there will be an open-notes comprehensive exam, worth 15% of your grade. This exam will be held remotely after Thanksgiving break.


This is a discussion-based class, so it is essential that you come prepared to actively participate. This can take many forms, including: regular class attendance, carefully reading and annotating the assigned texts, sharing your thoughts, opinions, and insights during discussions, considering and raising opposing viewpoints, engaging in respectful dialogue with others, listening attentively to others’ perspectives, and following the discussion policies listed in the policies section.

At various points I may make use of the Socrative app, so you’ll need to install this on your phone. Participating in Socrative questions and with in-class group activities is required for a decent participation grade.

Grade Scale

This courses uses a standard grading scale. Assignments and final grades will not be curved except in rare cases when its deemed necessary by the instructor. Percentage grades translate to letter grades as follows:

Score Grade
94–100 A
90–93 A-
88–89 B+
82–87 B
80–81 B-
78–79 C+
72–77 C
70–71 C-
68–69 D+
62–67 D
60–61 D-
0–59 F

You are always welcome to challenge a grade that you feel is unfair or calculated incorrectly. Mistakes made in your favor will never be corrected to lower your grade. Mistakes made not in your favor will be corrected. Basically, after the initial grading your score can only go up as the result of a challenge*.


TLDR: I expect you to (1) be respectful of others, and (2) take responsibility for your own learning. You are here to learn, so work hard and be professional.


The following tentative calendar should give you a feel for how work is distributed throughout the semester. Assignments and events are listed in the week they are due or when they occur. This calendar is subject to change based on the circumstances of the course.

Note: All readings should be done before the class period in which they are listed below.

Date Topic Assignments and Readings
Mon 08/17 (Week 1) Introductions; Logistics; Matriculation “Becoming a Learner”
    Schedule 1-1 appointment
Wed 08/19 “Only Connect” Reading
Thu 08/20 Mentor: Time Management  
Fri 08/21 “How to Get the Most Out of College” Reading
Mon 08/24 (Week 2) Allegory of the Cave Reading
Wed 08/26 How to Read a Book; Annotating; The Matrix Reading AND Bedford ch. 4
Thu 08/27 “Convo”: Growth Mindset  
Fri 08/28 Writing Paragraphs Bedford ch. 3, HH intro
Mon 08/31 (Week 3) Elephant vs. Rider HH ch. 1, 1-1 appointment
Wed 09/02 Meditation vs. Medication HH ch. 2
Thu 09/03 Mentor: Campus Involvement  
Fri 09/04 Weak vs. Strong Adversity Hypothesis HH ch. 7
Mon 09/07 (Week 4)   GC 3-31
Wed 09/09 Scholar Strike GC 32-61
Thu 09/10 “Convo”: The danger of a single story  
Fri 09/11 Scholar Strike Discussion (See Moodle links)
Mon 09/14 (Week 5)   GC 62-90
Wed 09/16 (Cancelled)  
Thu 09/17 “Convo”: Sexual Assault Prevention and Title IX  
Fri 09/18 Close Reading GC 91-125
Mon 09/21 (Week 6)   “How Shall I Live?”
Wed 09/23   GC 129-154
Thu 09/24 Mentor: Self-Care and Stress Management  
Fri 09/25 Speed Discussions/Debate GC 155-174
Mon 09/28 (Week 7)   GC 175-213, Via Survey
Wed 09/30   GC 214-241
Thu 10/01 “Convo”: Mental Health 1-1 appointment (Spring registration plan)
Fri 10/02 Close Reading, Discussion HH ch. 8, Close Reading Rubric
Mon 10/05 (Week 8)   GC 245-268
Wed 10/07 Close Reading GC 269-288, Close Reading Rubric
Thu 10/08 (Open for Advising)  
Fri 10/09 (No class – Pseudo-fall break)  
Mon 10/12 (Week 9)   HH ch. 9
(Tue 10/13) (Mentoring Day) Mentoring Day Assignment
Wed 10/14   HH ch. 3
Thu 10/15 Registration Presentation (Kristi Hippen)  
Fri 10/16   HH ch. 4
Mon 10/19 (Week 10)   HH ch. 5
Wed 10/21   HH ch. 6
Thu 10/22 “Convo” Topic: Academic Integrity  
Fri 10/23   HH ch. 10-11
Mon 10/26 (Week 11)   SYWTTAR intro and ch. 1
Wed 10/28   SYWTTAR ch. 2-3
Thu 10/29 No class – MPAACT podcast play  
Fri 10/30   SYWTTAR ch. 4-5
Mon 11/02 (Week 12)   SYWTTAR ch. 16-17, 1-1 appointment
Wed 11/04   Baldwin p. 145-169
Thu 11/05 Utilizing the Library  
Fri 11/06   Baldwin p. 169-193
Mon 11/09 (Week 13)   IM: “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine”
Wed 11/11   IM: “A Temporary Matter”
Thu 11/12 Close Reading Practice  
Fri 11/13   IM: “This Blessed House”
Mon 11/16 (Week 14)   IM: “Interpreter of Maladies”
Wed 11/18   IM: “The Third and Final Continent”
Thu 11/19 Mentor: Semester End Reflection/Closure  
Fri 11/20   IM: “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar”
Mon 11/23   New Advisor Form

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