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HUMAN 1QU3 Ins & Inq: Quest to Chng World (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Jeffery Donaldson


Office: Chester New Hall 308

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24132


Office Hours: Tuesdays 11:30 & Fridays 12:30

Course Objectives:

Construction of the Course

The hybrid construction of Humanities 1QU3 involves two learning environments, one with a lecturer, the other with an instructor. Though your schedule on Mosaic will indicate the active-learning class as a tutorial, it is not. Your instructor is not a TA, but your principal contact for the bulk of your grading and standing in the active-learning classroom. Your lecturer is also the administrator of the course, but has limited involvement in your evaluation. There will be evaluations associated with your attendance and participation in both parts of the course.


Most inquiry courses, at heart, are Do-It-Yourselfseminars, i.e. lessons and discussions on how to identify, plan, research, and execute your ownindependent inquiry project, with the guidance (not the instruction) of faculty mentors. Humanities Inquiry 1QU3 introduces students to the theory and practical procedures of problem-based learning in the Humanities via a unique combination of lecture and active-learning formats. In the weekly lecture, students will be introduced to the skills and practices of learner-based inquiry at all its stages, from the initial task of identifying and focussing a subject of interest to the submission and presentation of a finished result. Students will learn the importance of asking effective questions, how to narrow fields of potential study, manage the scope of a research plan, conduct research, and address practical problems of project formatting, essay organization, and composition.

In the active-learning class, students will meet to plan, research, and accomplish an independent inquiry project of their own designing under the supervision of their instructor. Students will share and report regularly on the status of their project and respond in kind to those of others.

Given the importance of the inquiry process itself as it unfolds, in real time, in lecture and in the active-learning class, attendance is extremely important. You are also asked to use freewriting through the term (ten pages total spread out over three installments) to provide evidence of your inquiry process at all its stages.

Lap-tops, cell phones, tablets, & headphones

Humanities 1QU3 is an electronic-device-free zone. This means that during lecture and active-learning class hours these devices are NOT permitted, unless otherwise indicated in class by the instructor. Students are expected to take notes in writing. Students with SAS accommodations may consult with the instructor.

Humanities and Climate Change

The range of possible inquiries that one could execute in the humanities is essentially infinite. In order to provide some guidance in identifying a question, constrain the variety of inquiries we explore, and focus our energies on a unique contemporary issue, we choose a particular defining theme each year. This winter our theme will be Humanities and Climate Change. Every student will explore an inquiry that in some way touches on both terms. Our inquiries then will be relational in this respect, where we are looking to identify the variety of ways that a humanistic education may inform and expand our understanding of climate change in all its aspects. We will be spending a good part of January brainstorming the range of possible inquiries that might derive from such a theme.


What your lecturer and instructor bring:


— Experience in the inquiry process

— Detailed discussion on the procedures of inquiry at every stage (planning, research, execution, outline, composition, formatting, revision...)

— Careful focus on the mechanics involved at every stage, research bibliographies, project proposals, MLA

citation guidelines, essay structure and formatting, and strategies for revision.

— Brainstorming of potential inquiry projects

— Advice on what works and what doesn’t

— Individual consultation at every stage

— Help in workshopping your individual project in cooperation with other students in your class

— Resources and advice in helping you to focus your individual projects

— Evaluation and feedback on your proposals and inquiry drafts

— Assistance with writing and revising your projects

— Active-learning class exercises


What you bring:


— Self-motivation

— Attendance

— An interest in initiating and conducting research on a subject of interest to yourself under the

assigned theme of the course (Humanities and Climate Change).

— Curiosity and imagination

— An appetite for freedom of choice and desire to follow your own intuitions and interests

— Negative capability: the willingness to dwell in uncertainty, while you follow the process through from

an initial open question to a finished summary

— Time organization skills

— Ability to work with peers

— Ability to respond effectively and creatively to the projects of others

— Ability to self-evaluate

— Openness to constructive criticism and feedback

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Given the nature of the course, there are no assigned texts and no final exam. Students will be expected to generate sufficient resources for their individual projects using the library and internet.

Method of Assessment:



Annotated Bib Assignment 10%

Inquiry Proposal 10%

Project Outline 5%

Inquiry Draft

Inquiry Revision 30%

Lecture quizzes 15%

Active Learning Class 20%

Freewriting 10%

MLA Citation Assignment 3% bonus


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignment Policy:


Written assignments are due by 5pm on the Thursday. Unauthorized late papers are penalized two percentage points per day. Work submitted later than two weeks after the deadline will not be accepted. Graders reserve the right to omit commentary on late papers.


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:



MLA bonus quiz may be taken any time between Jan 16 to Jan 30. See Avenue for information.

Week 1 Jan 7 Introduction. The Inquiry Process Unplugged


Jan 9 Introduction


Week 2 Jan 14 Standard essay vs Inquiry argument; Proposal Assignment

Jan 16 Research tools


Week 3 Jan 21 Brainstorming possible projects

Jan 23 Brainstorming: research tools


Week 4 Jan 28 Brainstorming & Proposal Assignment

Jan 30 Brainstorming

Annotated Bibliography due


Week 5 Feb 4 Finding your question

Feb 6 Workshopping questions & proposal

Freewriting 1stinstallment


Week 6 Feb 11 Staying away from answers & Outline assignment

Feb 13 Workshopping outlines

Proposal due


Week 7 Feb 25 How to work with research materials

Feb 27 Workshopping outline

Freewriting 2nd installment


Week 8 Mar 3 Sample outlines & How to work with research materials

Mar 5 Workshopping drafts

Outline due


Week 9 Mar 10 Drafting, Paragraphing, Writing Strategies

Mar 12 Workshopping drafts


Week 10 Mar 17 Marking Rubric; Common errors

Mar 19 Workshopping revisions

Draft Inquiry Due


Week 11 Mar 24 Revision

Mar 26 Workshopping revisions


Week 12 Mar 31 Revision

Apr 2 Workshopping revisions

Freewriting 3rdinstallment


Week 13 Apr 7 Final Inquiry due