Diane Hostetler | Tom Kerns | Brian Saunders

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approx schedule
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Choices that can Kill:
Ethics, the Environment, and Human Health

An Online Multidisciplinary Coordinated Studies Program
North Seattle Community College
winter quarter 2004
All online except for one classroom meeting per week
Thursday evenings 5:30-9:30
Room 2153


This is a Fragrance Free Class.
Please make every effort to avoid wearing
perfumes, colognes, and scented hand lotions on days you attend class.

why should we avoid fragrances in class?



Diane Hostetler, Eng/Drama LB1236 526-0196

Tom Kerns, Math/Science/Social Science

Brian Saunders , Math/Science/Social Science


We make daily decisions and ask radio hosts whether we have done the 'right thing." In order to do the 'right thing' we must examine our ethics, personally and societally. This class will focus on how, in our 'new world' as we become aware of new health threats we must confront, we can make ethical choices about our future. The study of how best to discern the difference between right and wrong will be illuminated by the study of philosophical ethics, dramatic literature, and science.

Fee: $40.00

PROGRAM FORMAT: A coordinated studies program is different from regular courses. 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 learning. You will learn how to read, write about, and discuss important works from classic philosophy, traditional religion, modern science and postmodern criticism which question or support different claims to knowing the truth.

In small seminars (see below) you will examine personal and cultural assumptions and beliefs in light of several opposing world views. You will develop more complex critical thinking skills so you can more confidently affirm that which you believe to be true. The faculty team will provide traditional lectures, facilitate the development of your academic skills, and participate with you as a learner so as to create a productive learning community. You will also learn how to interact with others in online discussion groups.

This will be a "hybrid" course, i.e., part of it will be done in the classroom and part online. That means that in some weeks there may be more emphasis on the classroom aspects of the course and in other weeks more emphasis on the online aspects.

The Online Component: Because this is an on and off campus class, components of online learning are an integral portion of this class. We will meet with each other and the primary faculty for a three hour session weekly during which time we will cover questions, lecture material and some seminar material in preparation for the rest of our week of  'online' study. It is expected that you will spend as many hours online as you would in class as well as continue to do all of the hours necessary for homework for a twelve credit class. 

All assignments and announcements will be made online. Seminar discussions will be held online as well as in class. Questions for such seminars will be posed in the discussion forum and students will be expected to post their ideas and responses to other students in that forum. Assignments will be submitted both online and in class. 

How to Seminar: Please see these for helpful explanations and information about class and online seminars.

What's in a seminar
Seminaring Behaviors
Seminar Papers

Readings: (Subject to change)

  • Mill (online)
  • Kant (online)
  • Miss Evers Boys by David Feldshuh
  • What Science is and How it Works by Gregory Derry
  • Duff Wilson: Fear in the Fields articles
  • Ariel Dorfman, Death and the Maiden
  • Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin, ISBN:0395683297)
  • Kerns, Environmentally Induced Illnesses: Ethics, Risk Assessment and Human Rights (McFarland, ISBN: 0786408278)
  • Pomerance,The Elephant Man (Grove Press, ISBN: 0802130410)
  • Ibsen/Miller, Enemy of the People (Penguin, ISBN: 0140481400)
  • Harr,Jonathen, A Civil Action (Vintage)
  • selected lecture, essays and videos to be announced


The primary objective of this course is to help you develop a solid foundation in academic knowledge, skills and attitudes which will aid you throughout your college experience. NSCC has identified some general education goals which we think are important to work towards.

In the knowledge area, by the end of the quarter you should

1. Understand some of the major ideas, values, beliefs, that have shaped human history .

2. Understand artistic expression as an essential human and cultural phenomenon

3. Understand moral and ethical principles and theories that are integral to personal and interpersonal development.

4.. Identify and understand fundamental concepts of the physical and life sciences, and the effects that the uses of these concepts and resulting technologies have on the individual, on society, and on the biosphere

5.. Understand the nature of the individual and the relationship between the self and the community.

In the area of attitudes, we hope you will

6.. Recognize the value of intellectual inquiry, personal responsibility and ethical behavior.

7.. Discover the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge.

8.. Develop confidence in your own ability to judge, analyze, and come to your own conclusions.

9,. Demonstrate a willingness to learn from many cultures, persons, methods, and viewpoints.

10.. Appreciate different forms of written expression, intellectually emotionally, and aesthetically.

11. Enjoy the process of working collaboratively to understand and appreciate history, literature, philosophy, and the sciences.

In the skill area you will learn how to

12. Develop the ability to think critically and clearly communicate ideas orally and in writing and on-line.

13. Improve your speaking and listening and problems-solving skills, your verbal and non-verbal skills in both group discussions/seminars and group presentations.

14. Access and evaluate information from a variety of electronic sources.

15. Evaluate your own and others' oral and written work.

16. Distinguish between your own ideas and those that come from other sources.


A. Book seminars: in class and on line

Active participation in book seminars is an essential part of this program. You will be taught the necessary seminar skills and expected to demonstrate development in this area. You will need to complete all reading assignments on time and attend all seminars. You must prepare for each seminar with a type-written response to the reading. Specific directions and expectations will be presented. Your seminar papers will be turned in, responded to, and recorded.

B. Papers

In addition to the seminar papers, three more formal papers will be produced, with the help of peer and faculty feedback, in a process that includes multiple drafts. All drafts, type-written must be ready at the beginning of the assigned class period. Late papers will not be tolerated. s.

C. Expectations

A self-evaluation. You will be asked to reflect on the program objectives and requirements and to assess how you are performing and developing at mid-quarter and at the end of the quarter.

Attendance and full participation at all scheduled lectures, workshops, and seminars (on and offline) is your responsibility as part of a commitment to the rest of the group and will be reflected in your evaluation. For you to be successful you must arrange to meet all deadlines for assigned reading, written seminar preparation, drafts of papers, and research group work. In an emergency call or email the faculty and leave a message.

Study groups Former students report that when they include studying together in small informal groups they are much more successful.

E. Evaluation: You will receive the same grade for all 12 credits based on:

SEMINARS (attendance, paper and participation)

PAPERS ( formal writing including revision process)


Completion of all assignments is required for a passing grade. We see learning as a developmental process so for your evaluation we will be looking for on going development in your writing, seminar participation, and in the other requirement areas.


Fulfills some of the following AA degree requirements:

Physical World

Living World

Science Tech, The Environment/Language of Science

Individuals and Society

Integrated Studies/"I.S."

Register for 10 credits from the following:

PHI 102 - Contemporary Moral Problems (5cr)
PHI 118 - Practical Reasoning and Decision Making 


ENV 150 - Environmental Issues and Problems (5cr)  OR
SCI 100 - Introduction to Science (5cr)

ENG 133: Introduction to Dramatic Literature
Eng 102: English Composition item number 1211 sectionC4

and for 2 credits from the following:

PHI 298 - Special Topics in Philosophy (2)
SCI 298 - Special Topics in Science (2)
DRA 201 - Special Topics in Theatre (2)

Student responsibility: Your cooperative spirit will enhance the personal and academic experience for all of us in this community of learners. We consider it your responsibility to be prepared, to find out what you missed if you are absent, and to contact us about problems. Please don't just disappear.

In the classroom you will be expected to be considerate of others by arriving at class on time and not engaging in distracting behaviors. For the whole campus generally, NSCC has policies which encourage a healthy environment including fragrance-free classrooms and smoke-free areas.

Grading Criteria: Please click here to see the criteria used for final grades.

Faculty Commitment: We want to help each of you to succeed. Call us or stop by during our office hours or make an appointment to discuss a problem before it overwhelms you—or us. We can usually help you work out a solution. We are aware of and have services available to accommodate those with special needs including learning and physical disabilities. The faculty are open to suggestions for improvement in all aspects of the program. We will be asking for your feedback throughout the quarter.


assignments | approximate schedule | syllabus | course policies | grading
assigned readings | online texts | lectures | writing
self evaluations | study questions | discussion questions

© Diane Hostetler, Tom Kerns, Brian Saunders