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HUMAN 1QU3 Ins & Inq: Quest to Chng World

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Amy Beth Warriner


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 604

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Tues 2 - 3pm TSH 604

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, you should be able to confidently answer the following:

  1. What is Humanities? What can a humanistic perspective contribute to world issues?
  2. How will a Humanities degree prepare you for the workforce? Why do we say that at McMaster, Humanities means leadership?
  3. What Humanities disciplines are offered at McMaster? What kind of questions are asked by scholars in each discipline and how do they go about finding answers?
  4. What makes a good research question? How do I go from an initial topic idea to a question that is interesting, focused, and appropriate in scope?
  5. How do I use the Internet and the library to identify quality sources? What other research methods are available to me within the different Humanities’ disciplines? How do I develop a research strategy and organize the information I gather?
  6. What tools, skills and characteristics do I need to succeed in University? 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Hill, L. (2015). The Illegal. HarperCollins. (This novel will be provided to you in the first class – no cost.)

Nist-Olejnik, S. &Holschuh, J.P. (2016). College rules! How to study, survive, and succeed in college. Ten Speed Press.

You may need to purchase an HDMI adaptor to connect to the classroom pods.

Method of Assessment:


1. Group Project

  • Humanities concept map (HCM: 4% group, 2% individual)
    • After a tutorial on how to brainstorm questions, your group will come up with as many questions as you can about the refugee crisis. You’ll plot these around a concept map in MURAL. You’ll use this visual and the principles you are taught about forming good questions to write 18 research quality questions.
  • The Illegal concept map (4% group, 2% individual)
    • As a group, you will plot The Illegal’s treatment of the topic of refugees into a concept map (using MURAL), again, with Humanities’ disciplines as the initial level of organization.
  • Process report (8% group, 7% individual) 
  • Approx. 2 weeks before your group’s poster is due, your group will produce a report on your process, explaining how you chose and refined your questions, describing your search strategy, justifying your sources, discussing what methods you chose, and outlining how you have worked as a group. Approx. 2 to 3 pages, double spaced.
  • Each individual will submit a short (approx. 1 page) description of the group’s project and how they’ve been contributing.
    • Poster (20%)
  • Your group will prepare a poster for presentation at Lawrence Hill’s community talk. This poster will include the following elements:
    • A definition of Humanities.
    • A description of your assigned discipline and how it can contribute to a question like the refugee crisis.
    • A description of what concepts related to your discipline show up in The Illegal.
    • A list of the 3 (non-top) questions you chose as examples of topics that your discipline could explore.
    • Your top question.
    • An explanation of why you chose it – What preliminary research did you do that revealed the need for this question to be asked?
    • A description of what you found in your research.
    • A description of at least one other method this discipline might use to explore your question.

2. Self/Group Assessment (10%)

  • You will be given a short rating scale and a few short questions to evaluate your own contribution during this group project as well as each of your fellow group members.

3. Question re-write (5%)

  • You will be given a short list of poorly written questions and asked to re-write them into high quality ones based on the criteria we will have discussed in class. This exercise will be completed in Avenue.

4. Personal Reflections (4 x 2% = 8%)

  • Four times over the course of the semester, you will be asked to answer a series of reflection questions related to the reading you have done in College Rules and the discussions you have had during tutorials.

5. Academic Advisor Visit (5%)

  • We have observed that students that visit their academic advisor sometime within their first semester of University are more likely to stay in University and succeed. As such, we are encouraging you to do this. You may not know exactly what to talk to them about. No worries. They will be able to ask you questions and identify what it is you may not know. If you feel overwhelmed, they can help you strategize and find resources. If you are feeling in control, they may be able to point out opportunities you would otherwise be unaware of. So either way, you win!

6. Portfolio: My choice, my skills, my plan (10%)

  • Based on what you have learned in this course, you will answer three questions:
    1. Why are you pursuing a degree in Humanities? (Hopefully you now have a sense of what makes a Humanities’ degree unique and can articulate the value of the skills acquired through such a degree.)
    2. Using the list of Humanities’ competencies provided, what skills do you currently have and where do you need to gain experience?
    3. Based on what you’ve learned about how to succeed in University, what plan have you put in place to do well in the upcoming years? (e.g. How will you manage your time and deal with stress? When and where will you seek help? How will you adjust your study habits? What will you choose to believe about learning? What will you add to your University experience outside of courses?)
  • You can choose how to present this information. You can simply write it up as a document or you could start an online portfolio, a site that you can continue to develop over the next 4 years.

7. Final Quiz (6% individual score & 4% group score)

  • This will be a short, multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank quiz covering material discussed in the guest lectures and on your classmates’ posters.
  • You will take the quiz first as an individual. You will then re-take the quiz as a group where you can consult with the other members.

8. Attendance (5%)

  • There are 38 class hours in this course (13 Tues classes and 12 Friday tutorials). Because participation during class time is so critical to the success of this course and because your classmates are depending on you to be there, I will be tracking attendance. The percentage of hours you attend is the percentage attendance mark that you get. Being late or leaving early will be marked as a 1 hour absence.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Absences on a deadline day for events like conferences or sports games must be discussed with the instructor in advance and arrangements made. Failure to provide adequate notification may result in a grade of 0.

For individual assignments, each student can claim one 24 hour extension, no explanations needed. Outside of that, late assignments will be docked 3% per day up to a maximum of 5 days. After that, a grade of 0 will be given. Group assignments will not be given any extensions.

If an absence or delay is for medical reasons, students are instructed to use the MSAF and following that, speak with the Advising Office. The instructor will work with students who have gone through the proper channels.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1 Class - Definitions of Humanities

Week 1 Tutorial - Asking questions

Week 2 Class - How to use MURAL

Week 2 Tutorial - Effective groupwork

Week 3 Class - Qualities of good research questions

Week 3 Tutorial - Adjusting to University

Week 4 Class - English guest lecture

Week 4 Tutorial - University expectations

Week 5 Class - Communication Studies guest lecture; Research strategy

Week 5 Tutorial - Stress and time management

Week 6 Class - Philosophy guest lecture; Organizing research

Week 6 Tutorial - Studying and taking notes

Week 7 Class - History guest lecture

Week 7 Tutorial - Studying and taking notes 

Week 8 Class - Linguistics guest lecture

Week 8 Tutorial - Asking for help

Week 9 Class - Catch up and poster practice

Week 9 Tutorial - Poster help

Nov 15 - Lawrence Hill in class; Lawrence Hill community talk/poster presentation

Week 10 Class - Poster session debrief

Week 10 Tutorial - Beliefs about learning

Week 11 Class - Humanities means leadership

Week 11 Tutorial - Beyond taking courses

Week 12 Class - Final quiz

Other Course Information:

Course Theme: The Refugee Crisis

This semester, we will be focusing on the Refugee Crisis. Any research project starts with a general topic and this will be ours. Our guest speakers will use this topic to show how each discipline within Humanities can contribute to a real world issue. We will then explore this topic further through course assignments. This topic was chosen to correspond to McMaster’s Common Reading Program book choice – The Illegal, by Lawrence Hill. The novel follows the life of a refugee and explores what it is like to be an ‘illegal’ migrant. Many students across campus, in a variety of programs, will be reading the same book. Lawrence Hillwill visit campus both at the beginning of September and again in November. As a class, we will have a chance to discuss the book with him, and to share our research with the campus and community at large.

Course Structure

Each week, we will meet for 2 hours in an active learning classroom where we will have guest lectures on the various Humanities disciplines and work together to learn how to ask good questions and conduct effective research. Inbetween classes, you will work with an assigned group on activities that put this learning into practice. Each group will produce a poster that will be presented prior to Lawrence Hill’s community talk on the evening of Nov 15th.During the tutorial hour, you will explore various topics regarding how to succeed in University. You will have the opportunity to reflect on what you are learning and then put together your own plan for success.