Instructor: Nathaniel Mull
Description of Course Goals and CurriculumJustice Beyond Borders is a first-year writing seminar on the topic of humanitarian intervention. You will read sources from Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace to Nicolas Kristof’s New York Times Op-Eds, considering the ethical questions of intervention, migration, asylum, etc. The goal is to learn the skills to write in an academic style for future coursework and independent work, including conducting research, determining a specific motive, writing an argumentative thesis, and creating citations. The course is broken up into three units for each essay written in the course, so you will turn in 3 drafts (D1, D2, D3) and 3 revised papers (R1, R2, R3). Each unit consists of reading a few sources, writing a draft, workshopping these drafts, and turning in a revised paper. Additionally, there is a final creative Dean’s Date assignment after your R3 deadline.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThe course is taught in twice-a-week classes in which you’ll discuss assigned readings and workshop your writing. For most classes, students are expected to read assigned sources and, at times, prepare notes, presentations, or pre-drafts on the readings. In class, you’ll discuss these in small groups or as a class, and the professor will introduce writing strategies. Every student will also have one of their drafts workshopped at least once during class, as well as in partners outside of class (called draft conferences). It’s important to make sure you understand the content of each source and how you can intervene in the scholarly conversation on each topic, in order to determine a motive for your essay. Professor Mull holds helpful office hours where you can discuss essay topics and narrow your thesis. Draft conferences also provide helpful feedback to incorporate into your writing. Overall, the style of writing is more important than the topic or argument chosen.
Learning For and From AssignmentsAssignments usually consisted of reading a source and preparing notes or pre-drafts (1-2 pages of writing) on the source. Once, we divided into groups and each read and presented one source. Understanding the sources will better prepare you to choose narrow and defensible arguments for your essays. For each unit, a few students’ drafts are workshopped in class, and everyone else prepares response letters with feedback for an in-class draft conference. Even if your draft is not workshopped in class that unit, you will have a partner draft conference outside of class to discuss your drafts with the professor. Conferences will point out aspects of your essay to improve on, usually concerning motive, thesis, essay structure, etc. The three major papers make up most of your grade, as well as participation (attendance is mandatory) and a creative project for Dean’s Date after your R3 deadline. Our dean’s date assignment was to write an Op-ed or new course syllabus on the topic of your R3.
External ResourcesExternal resources include the writing center and the library’s research facilities. At appointments at the writing center, you can get help brainstorming, drafting, or revising your essay. These appoints are good for staying on schedule with your writing and overcoming roadblocks. For your R3, most of the sources you use will not be provided by the professor, so you’ll have to conduct your own research. There will be one class during this unit held at the library teaching you to use its online databases, and the staff are really helpful for finding sources on your topic past that.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionThe course provides valuable strategies for research-based writing in future courses and independent work. Like all writing seminars, students will be challenged to write in a different style than high school as well as in a fast-paced setting. As a BSE student, I still found this course to be really interesting though it wasn’t connected to my major. The topics were very relevant, you will read sources on current events and pertinent global problems that make it interesting to conduct research.
Justice Beyond Borders