Course Info
Study Questions
Response Papers



Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar (IDS 175)


Course Information and Policies
(Szydlik section)




Steve Szydlik

 Fall 2009

Section 004 (1st half)


Swart 220


Section 005 (2nd half)
Office Hours: 



Mondays 3 pm-6 pm




Clow 109



Please note that although Dr. Cary Henson and I are structuring our sections similarly, the section policies, assignments and grade weightings are NOT identical.  Please read the policies carefully.

Required Readings / Viewings

Many of our discussions will be based upon prepared readings. You are expected to read the assignments carefully prior to coming to class and to participate fully in the discussion. 

The Szydlik section of the course examines truth from a mathematical standpoint, and the readings reflect that emphasis.  Some of the assignments (such as Euclid's Elements) will require you to read actual mathematics.  Some will ask you to read about the philosophy of mathematics.  All of the readings will require you to think!  As with any subject, reading mathematics requires active engagement.  Take effective notes, and when reading a mathematical argument (such as a proof), try to write out the argument in your own words.  This can be hard, but it is important, and you will be asked to present mathematics during the course.

Assessment (1000 points total)

Final Grades will be assigned according to the following scale:

A 930-1000 pts
A- 900-929 pts
B+ 880-899 pts
B 830-879 pts
B- 800-829 pts
C+ 780-799 pts
C 730-779 pts
C- 700-729 pts
D+ 680-699 pts
D 630-679 pts
D- 600-629 pts
F 0-599 pts

As a seminar, IDS 175 is a process-oriented course, and active participation by all is essential. You are not necessarily expected to understand or even to like all of the material, but you are expected to engage it with the seriousness it deserves. As a professional courtesy to me and to your colleagues, you should be on time, be prepared, and behave in a manner consistent with our course's and the university's mission and objectives. Please turn off your electronic devices before class begins.

The Szydlik section of the course will involve class discussion and small-group activities.  During many of the sessions, you will work in teams of three or four students thinking deeply about mathematical problems that highlight some of the main themes of the course. 

Early in this section of the course, you and your small group will be responsible for presenting mathematical material to the rest of the class.  These presentations will require some preparation outside of class and will be assessed based on organization, correctness, and clarity of communication. Expectations and guidelines for preparing your presentations will be discussed in class, and I will provide a grading rubric.

We will generally have short quizzes at the start of each class to ensure that students have meaningfully completed the reading for the day.  Careful reading and attention to the study questions for the day's material should be provide sufficient preparation for the quizzes.

Study Question Responses
Study questions will be prepared for all of the readings and will help to guide our exploration of the issues each text raises.  Your responses to the study questions MUST be written out before class.  These responses will be collected and reviewed.  You should always have two copies of your study question responses:  one to hand in at the start of the appropriate class period and one to use during the class period.  I recommend either making a photocopy or preparing your study questions electronically and printing two copies.  Your responses to the study questions should be carefully thought out, but they need not be perfect.  Their main purpose is to help you think carefully about the readings.

Response Papers
To allow for a somewhat fuller, more formal, and cohesive examination of our readings, students will compose response papers (three for section 004, two for section 005) of approximately 1,000 words each.  Suggested topics and approaches will be discussed, and class time will be devoted to idea generation, focus, organization, and the mechanics of presentation.

Our last section session will include an exam of approximately 60 minutes.  The exam will consist of a comprehensive review of the material, with an emphasis on synthesizing and placing into dialogue our various readings.  Students who attend, pay attention, read carefully, and engage the material will do well, which also applies to the course as a whole:  Process will be rewarded. 

Final Project
Please see the Final Project Guidelines page.  Note that in lieu of a third response paper, section 005 will have an additional assignment as part of the final project.

H1N1 Advisory
In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to an H1N1 swine flu outbreak, information pertaining to the completion of this course will be given. It is possible that the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to the course syllabus.



September 9, 2009

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