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Exploring Human Nature

SSI 232W

Exploring Human Nature

SSI 232W

Course Description

Prerequisite: A "C" grade or better in a college level composition I course and WRITING LEVEL 4. Explores the question "What does it mean to be human?" from interdisciplinary perspectives. Identifies and discusses the relative importance of traits and characteristics that "make us human." Examines and evaluates major traditional and contemporary views of human nature and introduces alternative ways of understanding the self in relation to nature, society, religion, and the state. Credit may be earned in only one of IHU 232, SSI 232, or PSY 232. (45-0)

Outcomes and Objectives

Identify and explain how humans can be distinguished from other species in terms of physical characteristics, psychological/intellectual capacities, and moral questioning.

Objectives:

  • Explain how the evolution of human physical and psysiological characteristics (genetics, our relatively large brains, opposable thumbs, etc.) can be used to distinguish humans from other species.
  • Assess whether and how human intellectual characteristics such as the use of language, the development of a sense of self, the ability to learn, plan, and the "need" to understand contribute to human uniqueness.
  • Explain the role that morality plays in "being" human, and assess the value or purpose in evaluating actions in terms of "right" and "wrong."

Identify, evaluate, and synthesize relevant traditional and contemporary theoretical perspectives concerning human nature.

Objectives:

  • Explain the evolutionary processes by which humans have acquired human characteristics, analyze these characteristics in relation to the current state of human connectedness to our natural environment (Darwin, E.O. Wilson, Lorenz).
  • Explain the basic positions of freewill and determinism (Sarte and Skinner).
  • Describe humans in terms of both individuality (Freud, Nietzsche, Maslow) and sociality (Fromm and Rousseau).
  • Evaluate and synthesize relevant aspects of the above perspectives to construct and support a position concerning human nature, and communicate the position in informal presentations and formal writing assignments.

Research and evaluate how human creations influence and shape human behavior, knowledge, and potential.

Objectives:

  • Explain, evaluate, and appraise how human technology has and continues to influence humanity.
  • Explain, evaluate, and assess the impact that political forces have upon human needs to simultaneously have a unique identity and still be part of a group.
  • Identify and assess the functions of human spiritual questioning and traditions, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of such traditions in shaping our understandings of reality.
  • Speculate on possible futures for our species using writing tasks.

Research, organize, and apply knowledge of human nature to formulate, articulate, and support a particular position as part of a team debate.

Objectives:

  • Research, organize, and present information concerning human individual needs, social obligations, and moral imperatives as relevant to a specific, current, moral issue in formal presentation.
  • Work cooperatively with others to articulate and generate support for a position, and identify and refute weaknesses in an opposing position.
  • Analyze and develop an appreciation for the complexity of human ethical dilemmas.