FSP111-01 First Seminar (Fall 2004) Family Values and Human Mind 


On-line Resources (required reading)

Course Description

If our society is viewed as a web of individuals deeply affected by their childhood experience, it must also be indirectly influenced by family values which would help define the childhood experience of all of us. Then, small changes in our family values could lead to unforeseeable consequences in the future. In this seminar, students explore these ideas from both philosophical and scientific points of view, but especially in connection to the principles in complex systems, through discussion and writing multiple short papers.

Domain of human inquiry category: Worldviews and Ways of Knowing

Notes on privacy: In this course, we will discuss issues related to family values, human mind, and our society. There will be occasions where students are asked to write and present their own examples. The information will not be made public. But if students are still not comfortable discussing their own experiences, they will have options to discuss stories known to the public, examples in fictions, and/or totally hypothetical scenarios.

Learning Goals

Although we tend to cure a variety of personal and social problems by tackling the immediate source of a problem, a true solution must address the origin of such problems. More and more data indicate that our infancy experience has lasting effects on how we behave later on, and the experience is naturally at the mercy of the family values of our caregivers. As a young adult, every college student should understand the basics of human mind in a way directly applicable to discussing their own family values.

Content Goals (mastery of the following core concepts, deep understandings, misunderstandings, and technical knowledge)

  1. Our personality and behavior are affected by our infancy and childhood experience including the child-caregiver attachment. [mind and attachment]
  2. Child-caregiver attachment is crucial to the development of family values. [attachment and family values]
  3. Our family values affect the direction of our future society. [family values and society]
  4. Mind emerges from brain activities as we interact in a society (i.e., “emergence” aspect of a complex system). [mind]
  5. Society emerges from individuals as they interact. [society]
  6. In a variety of complex systems (biological, cognitive, social, and computational), “emergence” is observed. Complex systems cannot be fully understood through “reductionist” approaches (assuming that the whole is the sum of its components). [complex systems]

Performance Goals (expected outcomes and abilities to be observed as a result of successful learning)

  1. Identify your main personal and/or social problem related to the content goals and propose a well-thought solution developed in stages, reflecting critical reviews of other students and the instructor. Note that the problem can be fictitious or hypothetical. [problem solving]
  2. Constantly pay attention to everyday events and phenomena around us, and identify problems and the associated costs (of not solving the problems), esp. those related to the content goals. [problem awareness]
  3. Analyze the source of the identified problems by applying known facts, principles, hypotheses, and other available ideas, esp. those related to the content goals. [analytical attitude]
  4. Critically analyze our own presuppositions and other people's ideas, including the literature. [open-mindedness]
  5. Express unique ideas orally and in writing, in a logical manner clearly understandable by other students and the college community in general. [dissemination]
  6. Deepen the understanding of the course topics through a free exchange of ideas and mutual criticism of a constructive and civil nature. [discussion]
  7. Take initiative in both independent and group activities. [initiative]
  8. Assess students’ own performance relative to the learning goals (except for this one). [meta cognition]

Course Modules

This course is divided into the following four modules.

However, the topics of this course cannot clearly be separated into disjoint components. Thus, these modules should not be considered rigidly. Instead, these modules should be considered as evaluation units so that students can check their achievements in a timely manner.


The assessment activities involve in-class/take-home exercises, papers, and records of students’ activities. All of these tools will be used to assess students’ achievements with respect to the learning goals because these tools inevitably involve aspects directly and/or indirectly relevant to the learning goals.

Throughout each module, students will continue to self-evaluate their achievements with respect to the criteria prepared by the instructor. Especially in the early stage, students will be given guidance about how to do their self-evaluation. Whenever applicable, the instructor will provide feedback on students’ take-home exercises and self-evaluation. Take-home exercises will be given at the end of almost every class meeting. The exercise will receive the instructor’s feedback, but they will not be graded in a normal sense.

At the beginning of each module, students will receive the evaluation form including the actual criteria for that module (e.g., the evaluation form for Module A). In the form, students will find the self-evaluation procedure, instructions for filling out the form, information about the evaluation workshop, and the module grading criteria. Since the form is dense and might appear complicated, there will be practice sessions prior to Module A Evaluation Workshop. In addition, there will be a review/redoing period for Module A (after the evaluation workshop) so that students can reflect the instructor’s feedback and redo the components that can be improved. Note that this review/redoing process is limited to Module A; students are expected to get familiarized with the evaluation process and learn how to achieve the goals by this time. The grades proposed by students (self-evaluation) will be adjusted by the instructor.

The criteria for self-evaluation (and the instructor’s adjustment) are as follows:

A, B, C, and D may be qualified with ‘+’ or ‘-’, where applicable. The overall course grade will be the weighted average of the module grades as shown below (using the standard conversion A = 4.0, A- = 3.7, etc., according to http://www.tcnj.edu/~academic/policy/Grading.htm).

In certain exceptional cases where students demonstrate a significant improvement, earlier module grade may be upgraded.

Learning Activities

The main learning activities consist of class meetings (two 80-minute sessions per week) and take-home exercises including papers (expected amount of work equivalent to 360 minutes per week). Take-home exercises will be given after almost every class meeting and due at the beginning of the next class meeting (unless otherwise stated). Class meetings will contain components such as the following:


Schedule: Class meetings: Tue/Fri 2:00-3:20 p.m. in Holman Hall (HH) 126

Unit: Topic Exercises
00: Introduction Essay: family problems; Syllabus/eval form
Service learning -
A1: Syllabus; Family problems; Eval form Essay: mind/social problems
No class (Monday schedule) -
A2: Mind/social problems; Research paper (preview); Eval form Mod A paper draft 1; movie
9/14 Class canceled due to the instructor's administrative responsibility -
A3: Research paper; Eval form Mod A paper draft 2
A4: Attachment; Eval form (family questionnaire) Field work: attachment
A5: Family values in broader contexts; Eval form Mod A paper final draft; Eval form
A6: Module A Evaluation Workshop [Module A eval form, review exercise] Essay: human mind
B1: Human mind; Research Group research: human mind (supplemental notes)
B2: Interim report (cont'd)
B3: Presentations Presentation review
B4: Critical review/discussion of the presentations Mod B paper draft 1
B5: Attachment, emotion, memory, and the brain: Analysis Research: Reading
B6: The brain, memory, emotion, and attachment: Synthesis Mod B paper final draft; Eval form
B7: Module B Evaluation Workshop [Module B eval form, review exercise] Essay: Project ideas
No class (Fall break) -
C1: Competition/cooperation Group work C1: field work, reading, report
C2: Animal and human societies Group work C2: field work, reading, report
C3: Group work discussion; Project paper preparation Project paper draft 1
C4: Critical analysis of other students' papers Paper critical review
C5: Society and natural/man-made phenomena Project paper draft 2; Eval form
C6: Module C Evaluation Workshop [Module C eval form, review exercise] Complex systems (field work, reading, or video)
D1: Complex systems; Presentation preparation (organization) Presentation preparation (draft 1)
D2: Complex systems; Presentation preparation (refinement) Presentation preparation (final)
No class (Thanksgiving break) -
D3: Presentations Presentation review
D4: Presentations Presentation review
D5: Discussion of the presentations Project paper final draft; Eval form
D6: Final Evaluation Workshop [Module D eval form, review exercise]; Conclusion -
ZZ: Closing circle (more info), 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon in HH126 -

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