LIBS 4900                                                                       Ken Harmon
Liberal Studies Capstone                                             [email protected]
MW 2:00-3:15  GWC 408                                               Office: Gateway Center, Suite 530
3 Credit Hours                                                               Office Hours: TR 11:00am-12:00pm
Fall 2021                                                                                             & by appointment
Prerequisite: Senior Status                                          Office Phone: (980) 598-3218

Welcome to Introduction to Liberal Studies Capstone:  The Great Conversation!

This seminar draws on coursework from the Liberal Studies major and synthesizes it in the form of a research-based project on an original topic. Projects focus on substantive issues that explore the seminal works of Western civilization and the questions that they raise: Where did we come from? What does it mean to be free? What is justice? What is truth? What does it mean to be virtuous? Students explore substantive areas of scholarship and creative works throughout history encompassing philosophy, politics, science, religion, literature, film, music and the arts. Through problem-based learning, students develop the characteristics of self-reliant thinkers and learners and demonstrate their capacity to cultivate a rich intellectual experience.

Required Texts:  

-All readings provided by professor

You will need to pay for at least two film rentals. The best option is Amazon Instant Streaming Video (avg. cost = $4.99).

Recommended Items:  

A laptop, a tablet (such as an Ipad), and/or a smart phone. You should bring one of these items to class every day. These will be used to complete in-class course work such as blogging, electronic quizzes, etc



Upon satisfactory completion of this course, a student should have the ability to:

1.Demonstrate understanding of complex ideas contained in the great works of Western civilization through clear writing and speaking.
2.Apply core concepts of interdisciplinary scholarship to complex issues and contemporary problems. 
3.Synthesize, analyze, and communicate critical thought and utilize theory from multiple disciplinary perspectives. 
4.Analyze and synthesize the major findings from a literature review of a relevant topic.
5.Demonstrate proficiency in qualitative research methods and effectively apply this knowledge to a research-based project.  
6.Collect and analyze evidence in the form of primary and/or secondary sources.


This course will involve several different kinds of assignments in an attempt to reinforce material and give you a chance to flex different kinds of scholarly and creative muscles. Those assignments will include short, fairly informal response papers, more formal analytical writing, a creative project of your choice, a chance to lead discussion, and a final project that may include all of these approaches and others.

1)  BLOG POSTS:  There are very informal responses to questions that I pose in class that ask you to engage in some way with the texts we have read for homework or visuals that I present in class.  These are free-writes, and I do not deduct points for grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.  You must, however, however, answer the question posed and demonstrate familiarity with texts.

2.) RESPONSES: These are informal responses to the readings or explorations of your ideas, so they do not need to be research-based or make an argument. They should, however, be well thought-out and well-written. Each response should engage with one or more of the assigned readings for the day. Your response paper might attempt to answer one or more of the questions I have posed on the schedule, or it might draw some connection between the day's texts and others that we have looked at. Think of these as focused free-writes.

Responses are a means for you to integrate yourself in conversation with the authors,  
texts, and class discussion. While they are scholarly writing insofar as they are graded according to the thoughtfulness of your response and the connections you make to the class texts, they also allow you space to reflect your own opinions, ideas, concerns, revelations about the subject material. There is no right or wrong “answer” for these, and each student is entitled to express her/his opinion on the subject at hand. Make sure, though, to place your opinion in conversation with our class texts, discussion, lecture; in other words, students should avoid blanket statements like “I believe... I think...” and instead try to thoughtfully construct your opinion piece as a scholarly response to the specific topic.  

The 2 page responses will be graded according to four main criteria: thoughtfulness of  
response content; link to class texts, authors, discussions; and writing grammar,  
mechanics, etc.  

1) Thoughtfulness of response content (including link to class texts, author, and discussions):  
a. All questions/prompts are answered thoroughly, but not overly wordy.  
c. Response features comments that demonstrate deeper processing of topic/writing prompt than superficial commentary.  

2) Links to Class Content and Writing Mechanics

a. Student clearly links her/his opinion to class authors, films, and discussions by referencing at least one such item throughout response paper.  
b. Student demonstrates understanding of topic at-­‐hand, and can clearly integrate points from films, authors, and discussions, into her/his own argument.  
c.  Response contains no grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors, is formatted correctly, and correctly cites material.

* Each section is worth 5 points for a total of 10 points.

5 points = no errors, outstanding work  
  4 points = no error, good work  
  3 points = few errors, average work  
  2 points = multiple errors, average work  
  1 points = multiple errors, sub-­‐par work  

3.) CLASS PRESENTATION: Each of you will present on a topic twice this twice this term (once at midterm and once for your research project).  You will use Adobe Spark to create these electronic presentations and will create a voice over for your slides/content.  Each presentation must be (8-10 minutes).  You are graded on content and delivery (eye contact, etc.).  The midterm presentation will ask you to make connections between texts we have examined up to that point in the term, and the project presentation will ask you to present your research findings.

4.) RESEARCH PROJECT:  The focus of this project will explore the primary course questions:  What does it mean to be free?  What is justice?  What is truth?  What is virtue.

Your topic must be an original one that arises from you own curiosity surrounding course texts, discussion, and content.  The project development process will include: research question, topic proposal, annotated bibliography, outline, a series of revised drafts, peer and tutor feedback, presentation, and project reflection.

5.)COURSE PORTFOLIO:  The course portfolio will ask you to look back at the writing and thinking that you have done throughout the term, complete some revisions, and make writing selections that you think demonstrate your growth as a writer and a critical thinker.  The portfolio contains a final course reflective essay.


Daily Assignments (33.75%)

Blogs                               50               (12.5%)          (10@ 5 points each)
Reading Quizzes            30               (10%)             (6@5 points each) 
Reader Responses         50              (15%)             ([email protected] points each) 
Discussion                        5              (1.25%)

Major Assignments (66.25%)

Midterm Exam            60                     (10%)
Topic Proposal             5                     (1.25%)
Annotated Bib            30                     (7.5%)
Research Project       100                   (25%)
Proj. Presentation      30                    (7.5%)
Portfolio                      40                    (20%)

  Final Grades:
  360 - 400 A
  320 - 359 B
  280 - 319 C
  240 - 279 D
  0 - 239 F

NOTE:  You must complete ALL major assignments in order to pass the course.
 Failure to complete any of the required major assignments will result in a final course grade of F.

Official academic grades can be accessed via jwuLink. Grades maintained in the Ulearn course management system are for tracking purposes only and may not reflect all of the criteria considered with calculating a student's final grade.


Taking classes is your job here at the university. Thus, you should treat the work and requirements accordingly. In the workplace things such as absences, tardiness, and not doing your work properly have negative consequences. This is the case in my class as well. Many students’ low grades are a result of not following directions or policies as well as not expending enough effort. It is your responsibility to be aware of the policies on this syllabus. If you miss class it is your responsibility to check with your classmates to find out what you have missed. And though you are always welcome to follow up with me if you are absent, do not ask me if you “missed anything important.”

Your grade is dependent on a number of factors that, together and holistically, inform the evaluation and assessment of your performance. In summary, these criteria include attendance, participation, reading responses, discussion questions, midterm, a presentation, and the successful completion of any other reading and written assignments.

Note: As this is a literature course, the reading load is quite heavy and the pace fast. Also, because writing is a means of discovery and a pathway to understanding, it is an important activity in this class in conjunction with the reading. Indeed, you should think of your writing as a mode of reading that will help you begin to understand the literature at hand. When essays, journals, and in-class assignments are considered together you will be doing some kind of writing assignment every week. Be prepared to spend much time carefully reading, considering, discussing, and writing about the texts in the course. If you cannot devote the time necessary to keep up with the assignments, and to do so in a critical manner, you will not do well in this class and may want to consider if this is the right class for you.

PLAGIARISM: All course assignments ask you to write using what you have learned in the course and using your own thinking and writing skills. If you use any ideas, paraphrases, or exact wording from a source other than yourself (including the textbook), you must document the source using MLA parenthetical documentation style (see handbook or ask instructor). Any source used but not documented will be considered plagiarism, for which you will receive a failing grade for the course. You might also be placed on probation or expelled from the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism, ask before you act. Ask me; see pp. 614-617 in our textbook, The Bedford Guide for College Writers, and/or “Academic Policies” in the Student Handbook. 


A. Plagiarism, a SERIOUS, academic violation, which can lead to an F for the course, is the use of WORDS, IDEAS, or STRUCTURES of others (published sources, friends, relatives) without acknowledgment. There is no excuse for willful plagiarism.
B. Except where appropriate (quoting or paraphrasing from primary or secondary sources), your work is presumed to be totally your own writing (i.e. original).
C. When you QUOTE OR PARAPHRASE FROM ANY sources, you MUST cite them with appropriate specific documentation (usually author and page number in parentheses + Works Cited list at end). This includes subject matter of the essay. If you quote or paraphrase precisely from a work of literature, you must cite the author of that work.  
D. If you do not understand the format for documenting sources, see me for help before turning in an essay. Refer to your handbook for further clarification.
For other questions about plagiarism see
and see attached handout.

TURNITIN.COM: All major essays written for this course must be submitted electronically to no later than classtime on the date that an assignment is due. Essays that are not uploaded to will not be accepted. 

SMARTTHINKING TUTOR: Students are required to submit each draft of an essay assignment to the Smartthinking tutor a total of two times per essay for feedback and are expected to use that information to revise each essay assignment. If a student fails to do so, they will lose one letter grade per each assignment not submitted to the tutor. See the SmartThinking link in Ulearn for submission details.

SUBMITTING COURSE ASSIGNMENTS: You are required to electronically submit all assignments to Ulearn or a blog for this course. Assignments not submitted in the manner will not be accepted. Any items sent by email will be deleted.

ATTENDANCE: Students are expected to attend all classes and earn credit for complete classes and in-class assignments. You are allowed two absences (excused or unexcused) without penalty. Five absences (excused or unexcused) will result in automatic failure. If you do not attend a student conference, you will be considered absent. After two absences your final grade for the semester will be reduced as shown.
You are responsible for tracking your absences. Missed class work cannot be made up.

Absences            Points deducted from final grade
3                                                40

4                                                100

5                                                200

TARDIES: If a student is more than 10 minutes late for class or leaves more than 10 minutes before class is over, they are counted absent for the day. 


It is the student’s responsibility to initiate procedures leading to a formal withdrawal (“W”) in order to avoid a failing (“F”) grade. To receive a W, a student must withdraw prior to October 29, 2021. 

ETIQUETTE: Students are expected to respect their classmates’ time and learning environment. Therefore, show up for class prepared and on time. Turn off all cell phones before entering the classroom. THEY SHOULD NOT BE VISIBLE TO ME OR IN YOUR HAND AT ANY TIME. Keep them stored away at all times. Each time a cell phone disrupts class or a student is caught texting, the entire class will take a pop quiz and the student caught texting will be asked to leave the classroom for the day. Also, if a student leaves the classroom to answer a call, they will be counted absent for the day and not allowed back in the classroom that day. Other disruptive classroom behavior, defined as anything that would interfere with “an instructor’s ability to conduct the class” or “The ability of other students to profit from the instructional program,” is strictly prohibited.

WARNING: This class relies on the participation of the students. As such, we will engage in many lively discussions. Emphasizing collaboration and dialogue, conversation and debate, we, as an intellectual community, will engage one another in meaningful and challenging ways while we explore the varied perspectives that each of us bring to bear on class discussions. Hence, various opinions will be expressed and espoused. I ask that you be respectful of my opinions and those of your peers. In other words, refrain from rude and negative comments, for they will not be tolerated. We should be constantly vigilant that our contributions, opinions, and responses, while intellectually critical, are respectful of the differences in position, perspective, and experience we all have. If your beliefs are so strong that you cannot tolerate the opinions of others, please begin to practice tolerance now, or choose another class. People can disagree without being disrespectful.


NOTE: Persons other than registered students are not allowed to attend academic sessions, laboratory classes, computer labs, and other University academically supported areas.

LATE PAPER/ASSIGNMENT POLICY: Turn in all your assignments on their scheduled due dates. You must submit all essays and required materials in ulearn (final draft, reflection, rough draft, peer critique, smarthinking). NO PROCESS, NO GRADE. Keep a duplicate copy of all assignments you turn in. I DO NOT ACCEPT LATE PAPERS.  

REVISION: You may rewrite the first essay if the original grade is D or F; the rewritten essay may receive no higher than a “C.” Revisions must accompany the original graded copy

STUDENT E-MAIL: Students are required to obtain and use a JWU e-mail account for University communication and to access my public folders. You must obtain your password to do so. Student accounts are created automatically for those who are active and in good standing. Student email addresses are available through uconnect at A student email address is [email protected]. Students should go to to logon and access their email. Immediately contact the helpdesk at 1-866-598-4357 if you need assistance. Take care of this the first day of class. Students are expected to maintain an email account throughout the semester and check it daily for important information regarding upcoming assignments, course announcements, etc.

IN-CLASS ASSIGNMENTS: Students will often complete in-class assignments, quizzes, and short writing projects. In-class projects, exams, and quizzes are scheduled for a specific class period and cannot be made up after that class date.

WORKSHOPS: All essays will be critiqued by peer groups in class. Essays without workshop responses, or any other step of the writing process, will drop one full letter grade for each missing step.

PARTICIPATION: Come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Contribute productively to discussion. Quizzes and in-class writings are usually based on the readings.


WRITING CENTER: Located in the ACE CENTER in Gateway Village (behind the bookstore), the writing center is open to all Johnson & Wales University students who need help with writing, whether they are taking an English course or not. Students are encouraged to seek assistance with essays, research projects, and related assignments. Students are asked to make an appointment with a Writing Center staff member in order to receive prompt assistance. The center provides 30 minute appointments and is staffed from 8:30-2:30 M-R. Consultants work with students on any part of the writing process -- planning, drafting, focusing, organizing, revising, or editing, and with papers from all disciplines. Please do not hesitate to use the tutor’s assistance. Remember to bring a copy of your assignment and your drafts to any Writing Center conference.

Going to the Writing Center does not guarantee you a good grade because tutors will not proofread your papers. The Writing Center’s goal is to improve your overall writing skills (organization, thesis & supporting paragraphs, audience/assignment issues, as well as teaching punctuation and grammar rules after reviewing big picture issues), which sometimes takes several sessions, depending on your existing writing skills. For more information, you may contact them at [email protected]
You may also visit the Center for Academic Support website at:


All students are required to read, understand, and abide by the provisions of the Catalog and Student Handbook applicable to their campus, which can be found at 

In particular, students should be aware of the following university policies:

General Information and Policies
Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment
University Holds

Academic Policies:
Academic Integrity/Academic Integrity Review Process/Turnitin Notification
Occupancy in Class
Outcomes Assessment  

Student Affairs:
Student Code of Conduct 

Student Services:
Center for Academic Support/Services/Students With Disabilities

Johnson & Wales University supports all students’ academic needs. Students with documented disabilities interested in accommodations and/or auxiliary services must contact Accessibility Services, meet with an Accessibility Services advisor, and together complete an Accommodation Agreement. Students are encouraged to speak privately with their professors regarding their academic accommodations. Contact Accessibility Services at for campus-specific information including office location and contact number.

a. Any synchronous class any student takes remotely shall be conducted via Zoom or another similar platform and will use software to record synchronous classes. 
b. The recording feature for others is disabled so that no one else will be able to record the class. Students may not record—whether via audio, video, photograph, screen capture, screenshot or otherwise—any class or share any recording or URL of a recording with anyone else. Doing so would violate the Student Code of Conduct and could lead to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension and expulsion.
c. Each student’s participation in synchronous classes may be audio and video recorded unless the student disables the student’s video camera and/or mutes the student’s microphone. If a student does not wish to be videotaped, the student must disable the student’s video camera, and if a student does not wish to be audiotaped, the student must mute the student’s microphone. Absent good reason, each Faculty (defined to include any faculty or any other instructor teaching or otherwise presenting class material) will allow each student to do so. d. If any student would like to ask a question, the student may do so privately through the software chat feature by addressing the chat question only to the Faculty (and not to “everyone”), or the student may contact the Faculty by another private method. If students have questions or concerns about this, they shall contact the applicable Faculty member. 
e. Each student’s name may be displayed on the recording and heard audibly if Faculty takes roll, asks the student a question, or the student asks the Faculty a question. Students who prefer to participate under a pseudonym may do so; if a student chooses that option, all communications with the student, including offline communications, will use the pseudonym to avoid confusion (to the extent reasonably possible). Students should communicate with appropriate Faculty about this. 
f. On-ground classes may be recorded as well. 
g. Class recordings will be posted on uLearn and any other platform the university deems reasonably necessary. They will be made available only to Faculty and students enrolled in the class or others at the university with a legitimate educational purpose. 
h. By enrolling in the university and participating in the class, each student acknowledges and agrees to the terms of this Notice and Consent Related to Class Recordings.