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Quest II

In October 2014 a group of instructors invested in teaching Quest II (the Quest II Working Group) met to discuss problems with Quest II and brainstorm solutions.  Their creativity and hard work has resulted in a set of learning outcomes and strategies that will serve future Quest II instructors.  We offer their recommendations below, and encourage you to use these new resources as you plan your Quest II course.

Note that the Quest II syllabus checklist has been updated to reflect these new outcomes.

Quest II in USP

UW Oshkosh students take Quest I courses in their first semesters. Regardless of the general education requirement met by a given Quest I course, Quest I courses include elements and activities that allow students to consider and understand themselves as the newest participating members of an established learning community. Students are given regular opportunities to explore the campus, their courses, and their new environment and to both ask and reflect on their answers to the question, “Where am I now?

Quest II courses continue to allow UW Oshkosh students to approach their education mindfully in their second semester by giving them an opportunity to consider the question, “How did I get here?” Regardless of the general education requirement met by a given Quest II course, Quest II includes elements and activities (for example, a focus on ethical reasoning) that encourage students to consider their reactions to the discipline-specific content as both powerful and grounded in previous experience. Quest II courses allow students to both ask and reflect on their answers to questions such as, “What do I believe and why do I believe it?” “How do my beliefs affect my actions?” and “How do my actions determine conditions for others?

By providing UW Oshkosh students an opportunity to understand themselves as participating members of an established community that includes and extends beyond campus, Quest III courses both continue and conclude the Quest sequence. Regardless of the general education requirement met by a given Quest III course, Quest III includes elements and activities (for example, a community engagement component) that encourage students to apply what they are learning in college, and in their Quest courses specifically, to real-world situations. Taken in the second year as students prepare to apply to professional colleges and begin upper-division courses in their majors, Quest III provides opportunities for them to both ask and reflect on their answers to questions such as, “What do I hope to do with the knowledge I am gaining?

What should Quest II accomplish?

Aside from continuing to offer first-year support for our students and introducing them to their second Signature Question in the USP, Quest II should also accomplish the following:

  • Promote discussion among students about challenging issues;

  • Adequately prepare students for Quest III and serving as a member of a larger community and as representative of the University;

  • Help students think about ethical reasoning in their disciplines and then translate that to their own lives;

  • Teach students how to interact and communicate with people they might disagree with; and

  • Be a “safe” place for students to have “difficult conversations” about issues that matter in their courses, their lives, and their world.

Quest II Ethical Reasoning Learning Outcomes

The Quest II Working Group developed a set of learning outcomes that can be adapted to fit most any Quest II course. Instructors should include these outcomes among their disciplinary and Signature Question learning outcomes on their syllabi.

1.) Define and explain ethical reasoning and recognize ethical issues and questions.

2.) Recognize and understand the reasons for your personal beliefs. Identify and understand arguments that challenge those beliefs. Engage in difficult--but respectful--conversations with those who share or do not share your beliefs.

3.) Identify, assess and articulate the ethical issues related to course materials.

Quest II Ethical Reasoning “Complementary Questions”

In our initial offering of Quest II courses in Spring 2014, several instructors noted the difficulty of adding an ethical reasoning element to their established courses.  We heard that it felt “artificial,” and that instructors felt as though they had to be amateaur philosophers in order to do the concept justice.  Quest II should capitalize on your expertise in your discipline, and take advantage of the lens provided by the Signature Question.  So instead of thinking about ethical reasoning as something else to add into your courses, we encourage you think about the ethical issues that are raised by our Signature Questions.  You might think in terms of “complementary” questions--questions that are easily raised within the Signature Question itself.  To get you started, here are a few examples of questions you might pose to your students:

Sustainability Signature Question: How do people understand and create a more sustainable world?

Knowledge of Sustainability and Its Applications:  the ability to understand local and global earth systems; the qualities of ecological integrity and the means to restore and preserve it; and the interconnection of ecological integrity, social justice and economic well-being.

Complementary Ethical Questions:

To what extent should we care about the future?

What should we sustain? How do we decide what to sustain?

Does the fact that a practice is unsustainable make it morally wrong?

How could someone with my values create a more sustainable world?

How sustainable do we want the world to be?

Which features of the world do we want to preserve?

How should people create a more sustainable world?

How important is it to create a more sustainable world?

Why should we create a more sustainable world?

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Civic Learning Signature Question: How do people understand and engage in community life?

Civic Learning entails understanding political and nonpolitical processes that influence a local, state, national or global community and applying skills and strategies that can affect the life of a community in positive ways.

Complementary Ethical Questions:

How important is it to engage in community life?

What is my community and what are my responsibilities to it?

To what extent am I obligated to help those in need (hungry, homeless, injured)?

How could someone with my values engage in community life?

How engaged do we want people to be in the community?

Which communities do we want to engage with?

How should people engage in community life?

How important is it to engage in community life?

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Intercultural Knowledge Signature Question: How do people understand and bridge cultural differences?

Intercultural Knowledge is the understanding of one's own culture as well as cultures beyond one's own; the recognition of the cultural values and history, language, traditions, arts and social institutions of a group of people; the ability to negotiate and bridge cultural differences in ways that allow for broader perspectives to emerge; and the skills to investigate a wide range of world views, beliefs, practices and values.

Complementary Ethical Questions:

Why do other cultures matter (geographically, temporally)?

To what extent should we care about other cultures?

To what extent do we want people to bridge cultural differences?

How should people bridge cultural differences?

How important is it to bridge cultural differences?

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Complementary ethical questions that can be used for any of the three Signature Questions or disciplinary content and used with an emphasis on problem-solving in Quest II:

What are the problems confronting society?

How do (my) values shape the recognition of these problems?
To what extent am I obligated to help solve these problems?
What are the costs associated with ignoring these problems?
How can I be a force for change, if needed or desired?