“Wisdom does not imply having the right answers. It implies only asking the right questions.”—Neil Postman (1931-2003), from Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, How the Past Can Improve Our Future, 1999
I. Course Overview:
Peace cannot be studied or understood in isolation of other social processes. We frame our understanding of peace through our evolving, contingent and contextually emergent knowledge of social justice, sustainability, freedom, cruelty, compassion, power, oppression, conflict, nonviolence, violence, war, capitalism and all of the other interactions that comprise our daily lives. These interactions occur at the institutional level (governments, corporations, media, universities), at the personal level (in classrooms, over dinner with a friend, when rescuing a stray dog), and at the meso level where our personal lives connect with the institutions that structure our lives (when paying taxes, shopping for groceries, reading a newspaper, deciding if there is a need to protest military action). Throughout the course of this semester we will work to understand historical conceptualizations of peace, to define peace for ourselves, and to see how our knowledge of peace is both enabled and constrained by larger social structures.
It is important to remember that sociology seeks to foster understanding of other perspectives rather than passing judgment on them. Our classroom must be a comfortable environment that supports the participation of everyone. Keeping that goal in mind, we will often discuss divergent perspectives—that’s the heart of intellectual development. Any discomfort or difficulty you may have with the course materials is not an excuse to be disrespectful of others. Critical thinking is defined by a willingness to respectfully engage new ideas. One more thing—always remember that I am a sociologist, and my job is to show you the sociological perspective. There may be times when I disagree with you and you won’t like it; however, I am not doing my job if I don’t point out how sociology views any given issue and how sociologists examine evidence.
Another component to peace studies is critical thinking or learning to question our world in ways that help us to realize our interdependence not just with each other, but with our planet and all living beings. Among the questions we will be asking are the following: What does it mean to be sociologically mindful in the study of peace? In what ways will learning about social inequalities (in race, gender, ethnicity, age, social class, species and disabilities) contribute to our knowledge of how the concept of peace is socially constructed? Through what social processes are people able to live with contradictions in their knowledge of peace, e.g. why do some people claim to value cooperation, but in the next breath they are ready to kill the competition? OR How can some people make the claim that they are concerned with the humane treatment of animals
, but they eat meat which necessitates the slaughter of animals? To what extent are our conceptualizations of peace controlled or constrained by organizations and institutions (determinism
)? How does society influence our feelings, thoughts, reactions, beliefs, values and identities as they relate to peace? On the flip side--To what extent are our understandings of peace (and conflict) facilitated or enabled by organizations and institutions? In what ways do we shape social structures through our interactions (voluntarism
)? Additionally, as you learn how others in the world conceptualize peace and in turn discover that few others share your understanding of peace
, the questions we ask are, why not and why is it so important for us, as sociologists, to understand peace from the perspective of others??????
II. Summary of Course Objectives (what you can expect to achieve this semester):
--to develop the ability to analyze lines of reasoning as they relate to the concept of peace (specifically, how differing assumptions about peace have multiple consequences); you will be asked to consider how peace and war are on a continuum rather than merely being opposites—how conditions emerge over time in our social world that can either enable or constrain actions that lead to social injustice(s) and sometimes to war;
--to avoid moralizing, judging and condemning others based on differences; to understand that we are all involved in interactions that contribute to peace and—alternatively—to social injustice;
--to understand the historical context of global concerns; to learn the history, concepts and vocabulary of peace studies and to think reflexively about our own knowledge of peace and social justice—how our knowledge affects our actions;
--to recognize how social institutions (e.g. the media, education or the legal system) enable and constrain our ability to act and interact with others—how our thoughts and actions are determined by others, or not;
--to be prepared to take upper division courses in the Peace Studies Program;
--to develop skills of critical reasoning;
--to improve discussion skills and the ability to express ideas/questions through writing;
--to learn the difference between personal opinion, common sense, information, facts, knowledge, theories, and wisdom; to minimize personal opinion while striving for wisdom
; to discern the differences between norms, values and beliefs; to identify ideologies and their consequences
You must, therefore, take an active intellectual and personal role in all aspects of the course.
You will look at how your interactions shape your thoughts and ideas about peace in relation to your own sense of such things as race, ethnicity, gender, social class, age, species and disabilities. The aim is to gain a sense of the moral and ethical implications of the production and applications of the sociological knowledge of peace.
III. Readings and Assignments—Achieving Our Objectives:
Required Books--Please get the edition listed below (books are listed in order of use—except for the UM Peace Studies Review—AND there are a few hints about why the texts matter):
1. Johnson, Allan G. (2006) Privilege, Power, and Difference
, Second Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill. (How sociologists view the differences or inequalities that can lead to conflict or peace; critical analysis, sociological reasoning and asking sociological questions)
2. Loewen, James. (2007) Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
. New York, NY: Touchstone. (How we traditionally learn about war and peace
; how minds are numbed; why we don’t ask questions)
3. Kozol, Jonathan. (2006) The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America
. New York: Three Rivers Press. (How and why schools perpetuate conflict and social injustice)
4. Nibert, David. 2002. Animal Rights/Human Rights, Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation
. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (A sociological theory about how and why social inequalities lead to conflict—macro
level view; pay attention to how the author defines a “right”)
5. Arluke, Arnold and Clinton R. Sanders. 1996. Regarding Animals
. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (A micro
level sociological view of conflict as it relates to our identities as humane or inhumane; the social construction of cruelty; a social-historical perspective on Nazi Germany not found in traditional history textbooks)
6. Trumbo, Dalton. 1984. Johnny Got His Gun
. New York: Bantam. (WWI story that was published at the onset of WWII…and then removed from the shelves; book also connected to the Cold War
; how organizations and institutions can silence certain voices)
7. Wiesel, Elie. 2006. Night
. New York, NY: Hill and Wang. (Why asking questions matters)
8. Hobbs, Daryl and Charles Cowger, editors. (2005). University of Missouri Peace Studies Review, Vol 1:2. (Agriculture and war; Africa, corporatism, women and war)
Assignments and Grading: [note: exhibition refers simply to demonstrating what you are learning]
Grading for this course will be based on the following:
One reflective essay (four to six pages in length) = 12 points (due??????????????????; revisions due ??????????????????in your lab section)
Fourteen Weekly Discussion Questions (cluster questions with reasons for asking them, ½ to ¾ page each—may be longer, 2 points each) = 28 points (due each Monday, except for #1 which is due on???????????????????????)
Small Group Exhibition Project: Essay and Photo/Abstract Poster (see handout): 20 points total (ESSAY ONLY due???????????; revisions due one week after it is returned with comments from grader; essay worth 15 points; poster/abstract worth 5 points) NOTE: Everyone in the group receives the same grade.
An End-of-Term Essay Exhibition (take home) : 20 points
Self-Evaluation: 5 points (self-evaluation forms will be distributed sometime during the last two weeks of class—see Readings & Assignments Calendar)
Class contribution: 15 points--Attendance alone won’t cut it—it will take a combination of attendance and class discussion (both in class AND on the Blackboard discussion board), with emphasis on asking sociological questions (or questions that show critical reasoning), interacting with other students to help answer their questions and coming to class not only prepared to participate, but actually sharing in the fun; put another way…interaction matters! In addition to classroom discussions you will also get credit for posting on the BLACKBOARD class discussion board—posting all semester long, not just once or twice. Keep in mind that contributions are defined as moving the discussion along, getting others to think about readings and what happens in class. Do not simply make noise by adding “me too” or “I agree/disagree” types of comments, by making personal attacks (they will NOT be tolerated), by spewing personal opinion that lacks grounding in sociological reasoning (or reasoning of other academic disciplines) and/or making loose, rambling posts that go nowhere. Contributions = ; Noise = (Yes, you may sometimes post silly or funny things; however, be very sure that your audience will share in the fun!)
100 total points are possible for the course. Points are earned, not deducted.
Grades are assigned according to this formula:
97-100 A+ 87-89.9 B+ 77-79.9 C+ 60-69.9 D
94-96.9 A 84-86.9 B 74-76.9 C Below 60 F
90-93.9 A- 80-83.9 B- 70-73.9 C-
What do the grades mean? Decide for yourselves during your lab sections!
IV. Tips for getting good grades:
: I do not grade on a curve, and I do not offer opportunities for extra credit. Do not worry about what grades other students receive. Your work is not being graded against the quality of work that is presented by other students, and please do not tell me how to grade other students. Additionally, I do not push grades down to meet quotas of any kind.
A good attitude matters
, so do not
ask these kinds of questions, “What do I need to do to get at least a B?” “Is it OK if I leave early (or miss the next class)?” “I was absent last session so did I miss anything important?” “How many times do I have to post on Blackboard?” “How come I can’t give my personal opinion? Why is it that only your
personal opinion matters?” “Why do I have to come to class? I’m not interested in what other people have to say.” “Will I need to know this for the test?” “You [the professor] intimidate me, so is it okay to not speak in class or post on BB?” Or, “This class is too big to have discussions. Do I have to contribute?” Stop letting these clichéd student reactions frame your thinking! Do the work, and good grades will follow. Keep up with the reading schedule, and do not
expect me to read the text to you in class. I have no doubt you will complete the assigned reading in a timely fashion and that I can use class time to present related materials as well as entertain your questions. Besides, last minute cramming/reading is ineffective and heightens anxiety!!
Ask questions that show you’re interested in learning…not just in getting a grade (see quote at the end of the syllabus)
. If anything in the readings or discussion/lectures is confusing please know that your questions are welcome. Learning is best served through the questions we ask.
If you are offering comments about the readings or the work of others please be thoughtful and respectful. You do not have to agree with the perspectives of others (including me!), but debate is contentious and unproductive, dividing us into winners and losers. Our aim is to learn the difference between personal opinion and critical sociological reasoning!!
We can all have fun in this class and create a supportive, respectful and nonjudgmental learning environment
through lively question and answer sessions during which diversity of viewpoints is accepted. (Examples of sociological questions are sprinkled throughout Allan G. Johnson’s book, Privilege, Power, and Difference
and in documents on the Course Documents page of our Blackboard website.)
My teaching style
: I do not subscribe to the *sage on the stage* or the *banking models of teaching. As Michael Schwalbe writes, it’s up to you as a student to be sociologically mindful
and to create (be responsible for) your educational experience. Also, I am not here to validate your existing body of knowledge!! I am interested in the effort you put into developing new ideas, learning different ways of seeing the world and sharing your experiences with others. You may find that you don’t take many notes for this class. That’s a good thing. I want you to be thinking and interacting in class. Don’t hide behind note taking. Think of our classes as Town Hall Meetings.
Your voice matters. Key vocabulary and concepts are posted throughout our Blackboard website. Besides, if I wanted you to memorize my lectures I’d simply hand you my notes and ask you to regurgitate the words on a test. That’s not much of a learning experience IMHO.
Reflective Essays and Discussion Questions:
See the separate handout for detailed instructions.
End of Term Essay/Exhibition:
There will be an end-of-term essay. It will be a take home assignment and will be comprehensive, covering material from class discussions, your written assignments, Blackboard posts and all readings. Students will acquire study questions throughout the entire semester. If you miss being in class to get instructions for the Essay Exhibition you will need to contact me for the alternative assignment, but not until after you have missed the class in question. The Essay Exhibition is open book and notebook.
Class Contributions (and Participation):
Life happens, but your attendance and contributions are both required and valued. Five absences from classes/labs for any reason will result in the loss of one letter grade, e.g. an A will be lowered to a B. Your grade will be lowered an additional letter grade for each two absences after the initial five absences, e.g. after the first five absences a B will become a C—two more absences and the C will become a D—two more absences…you don’t want to know! Please do not tell me your excuses for not attending class unless you have an official written excuse from the University, a funeral notice or a doctor’s excuse. While these absences may be excused, you will need to complete make-up assignments and ask classmates (not Michele, not the teaching assistants) about what you missed. Court appearances are not excused absences unless you have jury duty or a summons to appear as a witness (and I will need to see a note from the court). BTW meeting with an advisor or other faculty is NOT an excusable absence! Advisors and faculty do not expect you to miss class in order to meet with them. Overall, it is a good idea for you to evaluate your schedule at the beginning of the semester and decide whether or not you can attend classes/labs. Attendance is required for turning in assigned work and receiving instructions for assignments. On occasion there may be unannounced written activities in class that will receive a participation checkmark…not pop quizzes, but fun stuff!
V. Friendly Reminders:
****Out of courtesy and respect for other students please turn OFF and put away (keep off the desk AND your lap) all pagers, cell phones and any device attached to a headset during class. Use of headsets, laptop computers, cameras and tape recorders is NOT allowed without the written permission of the instructor. Also, late arrivals, early departures, coming/going during class and doing homework at your desk are a distraction to the class. You are only asked to be in class 50 minutes 3 times a week. There’s no need to get up and down every ten minutes. If you must be late or depart early then do so as quietly as possible, avoiding the center aisle of the classroom. While guests are generally welcome, please understand that seating is limited and I would appreciate advance notice. Thank you.
****Please do not bring food into the classroom. The aroma can be a bit much for the rest of us! TIA.
****Class ends at 2:50 p.m. Please do not start packing your books away until the class is dismissed. It’s a noisy distraction, especially with the acoustics in Schlundt 103. Ditto for the lab sections no matter where/when they are held. TIA.
THE (modified) Katie Clause (named after the student who wrote it)
—If your cell phone and/or pager rings during class time then class will stop while we identify the culprit (even if it is a TA or professor). The offending party will be expected to write a 3 (three) page sociological essay on courtesy and respect in the classroom, addressing specifically why cell phones ringing in the classroom should not be tolerated. Use sociological language and reasoning in the essay. The essay will be due at the beginning of the next class session (submitted either in person or via email), and if it is not submitted on time your grade for the fall session will be lowered by one full letter grade, e.g. a B will become a C. The essay will be graded as satisfactory/unsatisfactory (course grade will be lowered if necessary revisions are not made). Note: If we are unable to identify the person who disrupts class then each student in the class will write the aforementioned essay (IMPORTANT: If you want a different cell phone policy then try writing one!)
Academic integrity is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed
, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards breaches of the academic integrity rules as extremely serious matters. Sanctions for such a breach may include academic sanctions from the instructor, including failing the course for any violation, to disciplinary sanctions ranging from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, collaboration, or any other form of cheating, consult the course instructor. From the Office of the Provost, http://provost.missouri.edu/faculty/syllabus.html
American Disabilities Act:
If you need accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated
, please inform me immediately. Please see me privately after class, or during my office hours in Memorial Student Union (see top of this syllabus for my contact information).
To request academic accommodations (for example, a notetaker), students must also register with the Office of Disability Services, (http://disabilityservices.missouri.edu), S5 Memorial Union, 882-4696. It is the campus office responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students requesting academic accommodations, and for accommodations planning in cooperation with students and instructors, as needed and consistent with course requirements. For other MU resources for students with disabilities, click on "Disability Resources" on the MU homepage.
University Statement on Intellectual Pluralism:
The University community welcomes intellectual diversity and respects student rights. Students who have questions concerning the quality of instruction in this class may address concerns to either the Departmental Chair or Divisional leader or Director of the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities
(http://osrr.missouri.edu/). All students will have the opportunity to submit an anonymous evaluation of the instructor(s) at the end of the course.
VI. Contact Information:
: By all means
, please, do feel free to meet with me during my office hours or to schedule an appointment for a more convenient time. I will make every effort to announce in class when I will be unable to keep scheduled office hours. The best way to reach me is through email or on the class discussion board
. Please do NOT leave phone messages/late assignments at the Peace Studies (or Sociology) Department or leave hand written messages/late assignments in my campus mailbox. Such messages are easily lost and I am only in the building three days a week (if that often!). On the other hand, I am addicted to checking my email!! I would strongly urge each of you to offer critical comments and suggestions that could potentially make the class a more meaningful experience for all of us. Such comments will have a positive effect on your grade in that they indicate a high degree of involvement in the course.
Be sure that you complete the subject line of any email you send to me. Emails without a completed subject line will not be opened. While I don’t grade your emails, they should be readable. We are in a writing intensive class ;-) Please proofread them for typos, content and tone. One more little thing…please don’t address me as, “Hey”…or “Hey, Michele”…or any variation on the “Hey” theme ;-) TIA
“A department of sociology which [does] not stir up any fuss [is] no good.” MU President Richard Jesse to Charles Ellwood, Chair of the Sociology Department, c. 1902
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Quote you should review several times throughout the semester:
“Few schools place a high value on questioning, even though it is the habit which is most likely to lead to consequential scholarship and responsible adulthood. Schools are such crowded places: crowded not only with restless bodies but with parents’ dreams for their children. No wonder such emphasis is put on order, but order discourages questioning. Surrounded by the disorderliness of too many children, most teachers find themselves waiting for three o’clock, and for Friday, and for vacation, with a longing bordering on obsession. This makes them think in short-run rather than long-run terms. In that context, questions look messy, even rude. Besides, the students’ own questions will take more time to answer than the teachers’ questions will, because most teachers’ questions can be answered on page 554 of the textbook. Better, most school systems seem to say, to present a watery diet of philosophical or psychological absolutes as a way to avoid conflict while appearing to attend to students’ education in matters of value.” From-- Sizer, Theodore R. and Nancy Faust Sizer. 1999. The Students are Watching, Schools and the Moral Contract
. Boston: Beacon Press. Pp. 37-38.
(Syllabus printed on recycled paper)