Introduction

USR4002a

USR4002a prepares students for intellectual life beyond the university by modeling and asking students to engage in responsible reading, thinking, teaching, writing, and dialogue in a way that draws upon – but that is also in many important ways, substantially different from – the kind of pre-given readings and formalized writing and dialogue that characterize the traditional conventions of “academic” discourse. In short, this module builds upon and expands USP’s goal of developing socially engaged thinkers, readers, and writers with the skills necessary to understand and to participate in the kinds of public conversations and debates taking place in the “wider world” you will be entering after leaving university.

As a “capstone” of the USP experience, this module recognizes that the intellectual skills developed in a USP education will hopefully be brought to bear on the complex problems of the intellectual, political, social, economic and existential lives and worlds that you will confront and be a part of once you graduate from university. While USP Foundation and Inquiry tier modules provide the firm foundation for many of the communicative and critical thinking skills that this module reiterates, those modules are largely concerned with critical reflection upon the disciplinary practices and arguments of the academy. This module, while reflecting (and reflecting upon) a USP education, looks outward in order to examine the difficulties, promises, and rewards of an engaged, post-university intellectual life. The skills and mindsets that you will need to bring to bear on such a life are not precisely the same ones that helped you succeed in your academic career. To note just a few difference: Because arguments in the public sphere do not fit into established disciplinary boundaries; the audiences for public arguments are incredibly diverse; the pressures to cede responsibility for public life are numerous and intense; and the temptation to stop thinking, and instead to voice uncritically accepted opinions is real and pervasive. In asking you to not only reflect upon contemporary issues and problems in the world in a way that requires interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives, yet cannot be reduced to the (only apparent) “closure” of a formally presented academic argument; to instead interact with and learn from a diverse set of interlocutors from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives; and to think reflectively about how to responsibly engage in the real world’s ceaseless debate of ideas, this course aims to both cap your USP experience as an intellectual endeavour, and to serve as a bridge to the life of the mind that you must learn to cultivate for yourself within the larger world beyond the training ground of the university.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module:

  • Students will construct connections among different domains of knowledge.
  • Students will articulate sophisticated positions that move conversation forward.
  • Students will demonstrate responsible engagements with the context in which the conversation occurs.
  • Students will demonstrate collaborative expertise.
  • Students will demonstrate metacognitive reflective practices that engage the process of knowledge making.

For more information on the module, please visit blog.nus.edu.sg/usr4002a