Beginnings: Sustaining Our Identity and Culture in a Multicultural Society

 Fall 2010


Faculty                                                     Office            Phone          E-Mail

Carol Hamilton, English                           IB 2306D       528-4538

Jane Lister Reis, Communication            Classroom   719-8602


Teaching Assistants
Cam Basden                          
Haley Gronbeck                      


 Office Hours:  Jane and Carol each have office hours by appointment, on Monday and Wednesday before class.


Class Hours:  Monday & Wednesday, 5:30-9:30 pm



This 10-credit Coordinated Studies course, combining credit in English Composition, Literature, and Communication is designed for all students, and especially for students who are beginning or returning to college.  We will approach the theme of "Beginnings" by asking what skills and practices you need to develop in the first years of your college experience, especially focusing on the academic skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking that will help reach your goals. This quarter we are reading and connecting to the broad theme of immigration and how that “new” beginning is powerful and important for anyone who migrates and for others who stay in place and are changed by new people coming into their societies and lives.


We’ll also explore the theme of “Beginnings” by looking at the origins of our own identities and values, especially how they have been shaped by our social and family backgrounds.  We’ll investigate how ranked social roles, such as class, gender, and ethnicity, shape our cultures and influence our own ideas and behaviors.  We’ll identify our own styles of learning and communicating with others, particularly in a multicultural society. And we’ll consider leadership as a skill that each of us can develop, and consider where in our lives we can exercise leadership.


As teachers, we believe that engaged reading and writing, and discussion of significant texts, can help us understand the past and develop deeper skills to use in the future.  We anticipate that this encounter with challenging ideas will enable us to identify and refine our core values. We hope that all of us will strengthen our critical thinking skills, practice communication with a diverse learning community, and clarify our own ideas, values, and commitments.


CORE QUESTIONS:  We’ll use these questions to help frame our work together.



A coordinated studies program is different from stand-alone courses.  In this program we emphasize a sense of community, where students and faculty learn together.  Students are encouraged to cooperate with each other and be more responsible for their own and others' learning.


In seminars we will discuss a variety of texts, ask questions, identify central themes, and relate these works to the world we live in.  We’ll work in small groups to talk through knotty issues, and strengthen writing and critical thinking skills.  We’ll work as individuals to read, think, and write, and as a community to share the fruits of our work with each other.  The faculty team and teaching intern will share lectures and learning strategies, facilitate the development of your academic skills, and participate as co-learners in a democratic community of scholars.  



Register for two (2) of the following 5-credit classes:


One of THESE:

            English Composition                      1214               ENGL&101C4            

            English Composition                      1217               ENGL&102C4

            Literature and Society C4            1220                  ENGL 265 C4


AND one of THESE:

            Small Group Communication       1102               CMST&230 C4

            Intercultural Communication        1503               HUM105 C4            


ADDITIONAL 2 CREDIT COURSES (Pick one course):  Two possible Independent Study Courses:  ENGL 299----1229 or HUM 299---1519 are offered for 2 credits.  For these 2 credits you will read an additional book and do a paper and presentation on the author, reading, communication concept, and how this independent study intersects with the work we are doing in the main 10 credit Integrated Studies class.  Please check with the teachers the second week of the quarter to begin thinking and planning this work. 




This class requires significant reading.  Look ahead to see longer reading assignments and plan accordingly.  Bring books for the current week to class every night. Sometimes you’ll need to bring two or three texts with you.  Detailed reading assignments and seminar preparation assignments are on the class schedule.

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Where the Body Meets Memory by David Mura

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen

Additional reading handouts will be provided in class or be available electronically to read for class.


Reference Books for Writing:  Recommended but not required:


What It Takes: Writing in College by Laurence Behrnes and Leonard J. Rosen  ISBN-13: 978-0-205-64782-8

Reading Rhetorically—3rd Ed. by John C. bean, Virginia Chappell and Alice Gillam:  ISBN-13-978-0-205-74193-9




Communication Learning Outcomes:

·         Engage critically and constructively in the exchange of ideas, being open to learning new perspectives and ideas;

·         Recognize nonverbal and verbal communication reflecting diverse perspectives on culture, ethnicity, age, gender, and/or sexual orientation;

·         Identify and practice different norms and roles that facilitate human interaction; and,

·         Become more mindful of yourself as a communicator.


English Learning Outcomes

·         Learn to produce a quality academic paper in response to a text and ideas. ·        

·         Read complex texts and think, speak, and write about them critically and with careful attention.

·         Understand ideas and themes in a variety of sources, and be able to discuss the connections among them;

·         Understand theories, constructs, and models to help us live in our society with all of its rich differences, yet find challenges to move the theoretical to the everyday lives at work, home, and with friends.


Cultural Diversity Outcome: 

·         Understand models and ideas about diversity and cross-cultural communication and be able to apply them to texts and to real-life situations;

·         Notice the skills you bring to your interactions, and be able to access the most adequate skills for the situation you’re in.



General Education Outcomes

NSCC has identified general education outcomes (called “Essential Learning Outcomes) for all our students (attitudes), and specific skills and knowledge important for students seeking AA and AS degrees.  These essential learning goals underlie our curriculum planning and assessment for this class.


Credit in an Integrated Studies course can help develop the following:

Intellectual and Practical Skills, including

      Personal and Social Responsibility, including

       Integrative and Applied Learning


A.  Seminars (assessment of critical thinking, writing, communicating skills)

Active participation in seminars is an essential part of this program. You’ll learn and practice key seminar skills.  You’ll need to complete all reading assignments on time and attend all seminars. You must prepare for each seminar with a written response to the assigned readings. Detailed directions will be provided, and both seminar papers and participation will be evaluated. 


B. Essays (assessment of critical thinking and writing skills)

You’ll write three more formal papers, with the help of peer and faculty feedback, in a process that includes multiple drafts.  Full participation in the process of writing and peer feedback is key to developing your writing skills and helping co-learners with theirs.  All drafts must be ready at the beginning of the class period when they are due.  Details about essay expectations will be provided.  Essays will be graded.


C. Cultural Interviews (assessment of understanding and application of communication theory)

You will write two cultural interviews about a communication experience.  You will use these interviews as a way of analyzing your communication experience based on your increasing knowledge, awareness, and skill basis in multicultural communication competency.



D.  Participation in on-line community:

Our “Beginnings” class will have an electronic site where we can share online discussion.  You will be expected to check the web site at least once a week for information and to participate in dialogue.  Questions and brief assignments will be assigned for answering on the web site.  The site will allow us to stay in touch and continue our conversation between classes.  It will also be the place to share critical and timely information. 


E.  Self-Evaluations (reflection of yourself as a learner)

You will complete two self-assessments, at mid-quarter and at the end.  You’ll work with a small group to reflect on your participation, assignments, learning, and overall progress in meeting the course outcomes, objectives, and requirements.  We take students’ evaluations of their progress seriously in grading.


F. Attendance and Class Participation (assessment of level of engagement)

In this learning community, participation is a central responsibility.  Your contributions are significant and irreplaceable.  We expect you to attend every class and to fully participate in all activities.  In the event you are unable to attend, take responsibility for informing the faculty and your student colleagues, checking the schedule, and making up missed work.  There is no substitute for being here.



As a participant in this Learning Community, we expect you to:


·         Turn assignments in on time on the DUE date.

·         Turn off the cell phones, pagers, and beepers.  Take off the headsets. No electronic gizmos should be used in class. Please, no texting in class.

·         Keep your focus on our class work. This is not the place to do homework for other classes or general reading.

·         A fragrance-free environment is part of the college code. That means no perfume, cologne, or any heavily scented products.

·         If you need a break, leave quietly. You don’t need to ask permission.

·         If you miss class, get in touch with your teachers and your student colleagues in your groups. E-mail usually works best. Take responsibility for getting copies of assignments, notes, and other materials you missed.

·         Speaking and listening respectfully helps create an environment where we can all be comfortable and do our best work.  We’ll talk more about how best to achieve this goal.

·         Devote up to two hours of study outside of class per week for every credit hour earned – that’s 20 hours per week for reading, writing, study, and other participation.



EVALUATION:  You will receive the same grade for all 10 credits based on:

Seminar papers                                                                               20%

Cultural/Communication interviews                                               20%        

Essays 1 and 2                                                                                20%

Essay 3 (Integrative)                                                                       15%        

On-Line participation                                                                       10%        

Class participation (seminars, class discussions, evaluations)  15%

Total                                                                                                 100%


Completion of all major assignments is required for a passing grade.  We see learning as a developmental process, so we look at growth in writing, communication, seminar, critical thinking, and contribution to the learning community when evaluating your work.  These percentages may be adjusted as the class evolves. Late work—seminar preparation papers for example—will be marked down for each class day turned in late. 



Organizing Material

Use a 3-ring binder with loose-leaf paper and divider tabs, or an accordion folder with dividers or folders inside, to organize the material for this course.  You should have a place for in-class writing, drafts, essays, seminar papers, case studies, class handouts, and other material.  Keep every handout and every piece of work until the class is over.  Don’t throw anything away.


Standard Format for Assignments

·         All homework must be computer printed or typed; hand-written work is unacceptable.

·         Put your name, the class name, the assignment name, and the date at the top right of page 1. 

·         Use 1-inch margins, double line spacing, 12-point font size, and a standard serif font like Times or Times New Roman.  (This syllabus is in 12-point Times New Roman.)

·         Use a 1/2-inch indent at the beginning of new paragraphs. Do not insert an extra line space between paragraphs.

·         Staple your paper in the upper left hand corner. 

·         Number the pages.

·         On essays, note whether the paper is a Rough, Revised, or Final draft. 

·         Final essays and accompanying drafts: put the drafts and final together in a 2-pocket folder. No folder for seminar papers, homework, rough drafts, or short assignments.


These required format guidelines do affect your grade.


Academic Honesty

To take the words or ideas of someone else and present them as your own is plagiarism and is unacceptable in any college class.  Examples of plagiarism include the following:

·         Incorporating into your own writing, without proper acknowledgement, words, sentences, or paragraphs from another written source,

·         Paraphrasing so closely or so extensively from a source that the sentences and ideas really belong to the original writer,

·         Submitting as your own whole essays written by someone else,

·         Receiving so much help from another person that the work is not honestly your own.


The Student Code of Conduct states that “academic dishonesty, to include cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the college,” may bring disciplinary action.  A teacher who believes plagiarism has taken place may require that a piece of writing be revised to eliminate the plagiarism, or deny credit for a piece of writing that is not original.  In addition, a formal report may be filed with the college.  Students who repeatedly commit plagiarism are subject to penalties that may include expulsion.


Committing plagiarism does tremendous harm to your education.  If you are having trouble with an assignment, please talk to your teachers so we can find a solution. If a friend in any class asks you for help that you feel could be plagiarism, do yourself and your friend a favor and say no.


Disabilities Services   (

The Disability Services Offices can be reached at 527-3697 (Room CC 2346A).  Disability services can assist students with both physical and learning/academic disabilities. For students with documented disabilities, this office can help with accommodated testing, interpreting, accessibility, tutors, and assistive technology. Accommodation for disabilities is a civil right. If you need accommodation, or think you might, contact Disability Services.


The Loft Language Lab   (

The Loft is the campus language lab/writing center, located on the top floor of the library. The Loft provides free tutoring and computer learning programs.  Tutoring sessions can help with reading, writing, grammar, listening and speaking.  The Loft web site has lots of helpful information, and Loft tutors can provide on-line help with your work! The Loft is one of the best things about this college: please use it.

Computer Labs & Storage  (

Open computer labs are located in the Instructional Building (IB) room 3303 (both PCs and Macs) and the first floor of the library. The computer labs have a variety of software and are open for walk-in use. Check the hours of operation on the web site or the signs on the doors.   Network storage on the college computers is available to all NSCC students. Ask the staff in the computer labs how to use and access this storage.   

Veteran’s Office: CC2261 (

The Office of Veteran's Affairs serves veterans, reservists, active duty personnel and eligible family members who receive Veteran's Administration education benefits. It also verifies the State of Washington tuition reduction for eligible veterans.  

Security Services: CC 1252  (

The Security Office (206-527-3636) is open from early morning until late at night.  Security officers can help with safety concerns, car emergencies, lost and found, and parking issues.

If you need help on campus at any time, do not hesitate to contact them.


Unusual Events: Earthquakes, Fire Alarms, and Snow

In the event of an earthquake, get under a desk, table, or doorway until the movement stops.  Do not run out of the building during an earthquake.  Once the movement stops, evacuate calmly, following the evacuation route mapped in the classroom.


In the event of a fire bell, leave the classroom immediately, following the evacuation route.

If it snows, check the college web site or main campus phone (527-3600) to see if the campus is open before heading in.


To Be Here, or Not to Be Here?

We want you in class.  Nobody can replace you!  Even if you’re having a rough day, feeling down, or tired – please come. We’ll aim to make our classroom a comfortable and enjoyable place to be.


If you’re ill, though, please stay home in bed. Especially if you have flu symptoms, your own well being and everyone else’s will be best served by you staying home and taking care of yourself.  Send us an e-mail or a text; if you are able to post on-line, please use this resource. We look forward to seeing you 24 hours after your fever has come down.



We want to help each of you to succeed.  We are available to meet to discuss any issues or problems that come up, before they overwhelm you – or us.  We can usually help you work out a solution and help identify resources in the college to support you.  Your instructors are open to suggestions for improvement in all aspects of the program.  We will be asking for your feedback.



Coordinated studies classes are exciting and demanding, for both students and faculty.  We have put many hours into planning this course, but your ideas and energy will determine what it becomes. We look forward to discovering new beginnings with you. 


Withdrawal, No Credit, or Incomplete Grades

Stuff happens; both great opportunities and disasters. If something big comes up and you can’t complete the class, it’s your job to formally withdraw from the class.  Make sure you withdraw if you can’t finish a class for any reason.


If you want an NC (no credit) grade, you must request it. Ask an academic advisor for guidance if you anticipate a failing grade – an NC can sometimes provide an alternative.


An I (incomplete) grade will be given only in extraordinary circumstances.