Project 2 Presentations

The conclusion of our series of guest speakers. The start of the final two weeks of our semester. And the second set of presentations of our term projects.

That is the status of our course in a nutshell! And if you turn your gaze to the horizon, the finish line of our academic year is in sight.

How shall we proceed? It may be helpful to describe our plans a week at a time:

Week of April 23rd

Each group must upload all Project 2 written material, including Powerpoint slides, to its Google Drive folder by 5:30 pm on Wednesday, April 25th. Each group must adhere to this deadline, even if it presents its work at a later session.

In addition, each group must be prepared to deliver its presentation on Wednesday, April 25th, unless an excused absence (that is approved in advance) requires a different date. The instructors will determine the actual sequence of group presentations in the classroom, during the class sessions.

Time constraints will prevent us from completing all presentations on Wednesday, April 25th. Thus, many groups will need to present their work on Thursday, April 26th. Nevertheless, unless excused in advance, all groups must be “good to go” on the 25th.

This flexible approach is necessitated by our desire to establish no time limits on the “Q&A” conversation period that follows each presentation. This “open discussion” policy was very popular, and very effective, during the Project 1 presentations. However, it obviously necessitates a significant degree of flexibility regarding our schedule.

Please keep in mind that Extra Credit 1 is an optional group activity that must be integrated into your Project 2 submission. It must be included in your Google Drive folder by the Project 2 submission deadline, and it must be integrated into your Project 2 written material.

There are no advance reading assignments this week. However, we will take a quiz on Wednesday, covering the content that Bill Patenaude presented in class last week. His Powerpoint slides, simply entitled Bill Patenaude, are included in the Handouts sub-folder of our online Documents folder.

We will also take a quiz on Thursday, covering the content that students presented the previous session. We will upload a copy of each student Powerpoint file to a new sub-folder entitled Student Presentations in the Handouts sub-folder.

Incidentally, now that we have reached the Final Student Presentations stage of the semester, we will close our anonymous student feedback survey page. There was no anonymous feedback about last week’s sessions.

Week of April 30th

It is likely that one or two group presentation(s) will be scheduled this week, due to time constraints or excused absences during the week of April 23rd. This student activity will be given scheduling priority.

A brief reading assignment will be required for each session this week. We will also take a quiz during each session.

On Wednesday, May 2nd, the quiz will cover the content that students presented the previous session. It will also cover the advance reading assignment on that day. And on Thursday, May 3rd, the quiz will cover the content that was discussed during the previous class session, along with the advance reading assignment for that day.

Week of May 7th

All Project 3 submission content must be uploaded to the Google Drive folders no later than 5:30 pm on Monday, May 7th. Any individual Extra Credit 2 and Make-up Activity work must be transmitted via email to Mike Kraten at this time as well.

As noted above, please keep in mind that Extra Credit 1 is an optional group activity that must be integrated into your Project 2 submission. It must be included in your Google Drive folder by the Project 2 submission deadline, and integrated into your Project 2 written material.

God and the Natural World

This is it! We are about to experience the final full week of new colloquium material before we reach the second round of student presentations. And we are also about to welcome two additional guest speakers to our classroom!

On Wednesday, Environmental Biology Professor Barbara Sullivan-Watts will join us to discuss our relationship with the natural world. Here is her autobiographical information:

I have degrees in Biology (Catholic U), Environmental Engineering (Johns Hopkins), and Oceanography (Oregon State U). As a research scientist at the U.S. EPA and URI I studied and published on the impacts of pollution and climate change on Narragansett Bay and Georges Bank (the fishing ground off the coast of Massachusetts). Now I teach Environmental Biology 121 at PC and spend as much time in the out-of-doors as possible, including monitoring shore bird populations – osprey – a success story of environmental management due to banning DDT, and piping plovers who still need our help.

Before we meet Barbara, in advance of Wednesday’s class session, please read an article about the piping plover. It was written by a native of Cape Cod who studies Environmental Humanities and Film and Media Studies at Whitman College.

In addition, to prepare for Wednesday’s class, please review the Spring 2017 Report of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. You can download it from the Documents folder of our blog site; it is saved as the handout entitled Drowning In Place.

Then, on Thursday, PC Masters in Theology graduate William Patenaude will join us to discuss our relationship with God and its impact on the sustainability of our planet. Bill is an environmental engineer with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and the author of a blog entitled Catholic Ecology. Here is his autobiographical information.

Before we meet Bill, in advance of Thursday’s class, please review a blog posting by Bill entitled Pope Francis Challenges The World. Then watch the brief video at the bottom of that web page, and click on the link immediately above the video to find and read the Pope’s address.

God, the natural world, and sustainability. That’s a nice summation for our entire course, isn’t it? We still have a few weeks to go, but we are certainly heading into the home stretch.

P.S. Here is a brief administrative reminder. Our 5:30 section will begin and end 15 minutes later than usual this week. We will convene at 5:45 pm and end at 7:20 pm.

Persuasion and Story Telling

First and foremost, we’d like to thank UBS Wealth Manager Jason Macaluso for joining our discussion and sharing his insights last week. As we enter the home stretch of the semester, we may wish to keep two particular insights in mind.

One is Jason’s emphasis on telling timeless stories. He purposefully avoids posting podcasts on his web page that cover “timely” financial market developments that quickly become dated and obsolete. Instead, he focuses on telling stories about successful individuals, stories that address timeless themes.

Another is Jason’s use of color-coding personalities in order to customize his verbal delivery style. A persuasive argument that is simply logical and accurate may be ineffective if it is not conveyed in a manner that suits an audience.

Please continue to think about these insights as you turn your focus to the second phase of our term projects. And this week, please consider the effectiveness of the story-telling approaches that are adopted by the authors of this week’s reading assignments.

What are our assignments? In advance of Wednesday’s class, please read a 13 page chapter of Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring. Chapter 8 is entitled And No Birds Sing.

Chapter 8 is one of 17 chapters; in its 2002 edition, it was printed over 26 of 378 pages. Because Chapter 8 represents much less than 10% of the text, and it is not relatively more important than any other text content, we are distributing it to you under the fair use laws. Please click on the Documents link of our blog web page and (in the Handouts sub-folder) download the PDF handout entitled Silent Spring.

Then, in advance of Thursday’s class, please read Herman Melville’s short story Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street. It is available at no cost on the Project Gutenberg web site.

As you read these stories, please think about the underlying themes that motivated the authors to write these texts. Then please ask yourself how they utilized the technique of storytelling to convey their perspectives.

These two works represent the last classic historical and literary readings that you will ever discuss in a Civ class. We will likely welcome a guest instructor or two to our classroom next week to join our discussion, and to provide illustrative detail about these insights.

As we (finally) begin to experience some spring-like weather, it is truly important to hear the message of Silent Spring. And as we reach the end of our sophomore year and begin to ponder our future careers, it is incredibly important to heed the warning of Bartleby the Scrivener.

The Final Month

We hope that you’re enjoying a delightful Easter weekend! When you return to campus, we’ll leap directly into the final five weeks of classes.

Because the College is following a Monday schedule this Wednesday, we will not meet that evening. On Thursday evening, we have a special event to engage us.

PC alumnus and New Haven based UBS Wealth Manager Jason Macaluso will join us to discuss communication practices. In advance of our discussion on Thursday, please complete an unusual assignment.

First, please read an article about PC alumnus and New Haven based entrepreneur Jason Sobocinski. He is the proprietor of the artisanal cheese shop and restaurant Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro.

Second, please review a web page about Jason Sobocinski’s interest in sustainability on the web site of The Farmer’s Cow.

Third, please listen to Jason Macaluso’s 35 minute audio podcast Episode 1 of the series Bow Ties and Striped Socks, entitled Jason Sobocinski: The Big Cheese. You can find it by visiting Jason Macaluo’s UBS business page, and then scrolling down to the podcast library.

That sums up our activities for the week! In addition, please note that the requirements for your second term project submission, your extra credit work, and your make-up activity work have been uploaded to the Handouts sub-folder of our Documents folder. If you wish to complete any quiz make-up work for a day when you were absent, a notification requirement is due on Friday, April 6th.

By the way, do you recall one student’s anonymous survey suggestion of a Movie Night? Or of a Surprise Topic? Although we cannot guarantee that we’ll be able to schedule such activities, we’re certainly open to them! Thus, if you wish to make any suggestions, please send them to us via the anonymous survey web page or via email no later than Friday, April 6th.

Finally, if you have not yet arranged to receive feedback about your Project 1 submission, please respond to your instructor’s message as soon as possible. We plan to schedule our Project 2 submissions and presentations on Wednesday, April 25th and Thursday, April 26th.

Can you believe that you’re about to experience your final month of Civ ever? We’ll certainly do our best to make it a memorable one.  🙂

An Easter Treat

Right off the bat, you might notice something unusual about this week’s blog post! We customarily publish our posts on Saturdays, and today is not a Saturday. In fact, it is not a weekend day at all. Today, the day that we are publishing our post, is a Thursday!

So why are we doing publishing today? Well, because of yesterday’s snowstorm and the resultant College closure, this week (i.e. the week of the 19th) is a truncated week. In addition, because next week is Easter week, it will be a truncated week as well. Many students are asking questions about our plans, and so we are clarifying our revised schedule by publishing this post two days earlier than usual.

Here are our revised plans for today, March 22nd. In advance of our session, let’s read all three of the works that we originally assigned for this week. They are:

1. a classic poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson called The Charge of the Light Brigade;

2. the 26 brief paragraphs of Section I of Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War, entitled Laying Plans;

3. Chapter 1 of the U.S. Department of the Army’s ATP 5-19 training publication regarding Risk Management, which extends from Page 1-1 through Page 1- 17.

And what about next week? We have an Easter treat to share with you! To prepare for our class session on Wednesday, March 28th, please read the landmark Enyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home.

Finally, of course, we still need to discuss our Project 1 grades and comments with our teams. We’ll begin to schedule those conversations as well, and will try our best to accommodate the travel plans of our students.

We do hope that yesterday’s snow cancellation has not badly inconvenienced you! Fortunately, we are still on schedule, and we are looking forward to our Easter holiday.

Military Science

For the past few weeks, we have been emphasizing the resolution of conflict through the art of persuasion. We hope that you agree with our focus on persuasion, given that cooperation is generally preferable to antagonism.

And yet it is regrettably true that some differences cannot be resolved through persuasion. Instead, certain disputes inevitably lead to military action. And we would be amiss to overlook the contributions of military science to the field of dispute resolution.

So let’s dedicate the upcoming week to this topic. In advance of our session on Wednesday, please read a classic poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson called The Charge of the Light Brigade. While you do so, please consider the concept of servant leadership that we discussed several weeks ago.

In addition, in advance of Wednesday’s session, please read the 26 brief paragraphs of Section I of Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War, entitled Laying Plans. You’ll undoubtedly notice that this reading is a classic of Eastern Civilization, as opposed to Western Civilization. We’ve decided to expand our horizons a bit!

Then, in advance of Thursday’s session, please download the U.S. Department of the Army’s ATP 5-19 training publication regarding Risk Management, and read Chapter 1, which extends from Page 1-1 through Page 1- 17.

In addition to these tasks, please keep a pair of administrative activities in mind. First, during the week, we will enter your midterm grades into our system. The grades will reflect your performance thus far, and will include a general assumption that each student will submit make-up and extra credit work that will add 8 points towards the course grade.

The other administrative activity is the discussion of term project feedback and grades. As we mentioned in class last week, we will contact each team to schedule a time for your conversation.

We have much to cover this week! But please don’t worry about the work load.

After all, we’re about to learn about fighting wars. So we can be confident that we will complete our education mission with perfect military precision!

The Saints Go Marching In

We have reached the final weekend of Spring Break! Alas, we must now plan for our upcoming week of classroom sessions. What shall we discuss?

First and foremost, there are still a small number of teams in our 5:30 section who have not yet presented their first term project submissions. They will do so on Wednesday evening.

And then, for the remainder of our week, we will discuss a pair of works by St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. Indeed, you are about to experience your last-ever sessions of intensive theological discussions in a Western Civilization course at Providence College!

So, to prepare for our Wednesday session, please read a brief excerpt by Minnesota State University of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.

Also, in advance of Wednesday’s session, please read a restatement of that excerpt in contemporary language.

Then, to prepare for our Thursday session, please read Book II (i.e. the second book) of The Confessions of St. Augustine.

As you read St. Aquinas, consider his words from an atheist’s point of view. Can his explanations persuade a non-believer in the existence of God?

Then, as you read St. Augustine, consider his words from a non-Christian’s perspective. Can his commentary persuade believers in different religions to convert to Christianity?

These questions are relevant to the field of sustainability because many individuals are profoundly skeptical about the impact of climate change and other conditions. Thus, historical figures who are skilled at the practice of persuasion can serve as exemplars for our own communication activities.

That is why we studied Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address earlier this semester. And that is why we are now studying St. Aquinas and St. Augustine.

So let’s get ready for your last-ever “Civ” discussion of the Great Saints of Christianity! Indeed, the saints will go marching In to class this week, and like a classic New Orleans Jazz funeral, we’ll say farewell to them in style.