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Sample Quest II Syllabus Language

Quest II courses are also Explore Courses, so you may also use the sample explore course syllabus language. Also, please be sure to consult the Quest II Syllabus Checklist to ensure that your syllabus contains all of the expected content.

Sample Language on Ethical Reasoning

Ethical Reasoning is the hallmark of Quest II courses and should be evident in the student learning outcomes, assignments, and assessments in Quest II syllabi. Below is an example from Robert Wagoner (Philosophy) of how to define ethical reasoning and incorporate it into student learning outcomes. Also take note of how Dr. Wagoner has simultaneously woven his Signature Question (Sustainability) into the learning outcomes. This excerpt is used with his permission.

Ethical Reasoning

An important component of Quest II is its emphasis on ETHICAL REASONING . People engage in reasoning in a number of ways. We are capable of theoretical reasoning – reasoning about, for instance, the way a system of ideas or claims is connected. We are capable of practical reasoning – reasoning about what to do and how to do it. ETHICAL REASONING is a form of reasoning we all do when we ask questions like “Should I do this?” “Is it right to do that?” “Is this policy good?” “Am I doing what I should to be a good person?” “What should a good person do?” Thus, ETHICAL REASONING is, broadly, reasoning that incorporates our beliefs about values (good, bad). Ethical Reasoning typically reaches a conclusion of the form “X is right/wrong” or “I should do X/not do X”.

Learning Outcomes and Core Abilities

Students can expect to leave this course with the ability to:

  1. Identify and describe the components of philosophical arguments.
  2. Assess the quality of arguments
  3. Identify and explain some famous and influential philosophical arguments.
  4. Identify and explain some challenges these arguments face.
  5. Think creatively and critically about evidence – e.g., about whether this is or is not evidence for that.
  6. Think creatively and critically about ethical issues, especially in the evaluation of theories or arguments.
  7. Identify core assumptions or commitments that distinguish one theory or argument from another.
  8. Describe in detail some of the issues embraced by the term ‘SUSTAINABILITY’
  9. State and explain a definition of SUSTAINABILITY.
  10. Identify and explain the significance of some human practices (e.g., manufacturing, aiding undeveloped countries, living in cities) to the SIGNATURE QUESTION.
  11. Articulate and explain what ETHICAL REASONING is.
  12. Analyze examples of ETHICAL REASONING in terms of their components (e.g., beliefs about value, non-value beliefs, empirical claims).
  13. Identify and Explain some of the ways in which (and cases in which) ETHICAL REASONING is indispensable for understanding issues embraced by SUSTAINABILITY.

In addition to these abilities, students can expect:

  1. To be able to describe the value of a liberal education.
  2. To be familiar with the expectations of a college-level education, the UW Oshkosh Essential Learning Outcomes, and the University Studies Program.

Brief explanation of how this course connects to Liberal Education

  • Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. (AAC&U,


  • Sample from a syllabus submitted by COB’s Bill Wresch:Defining a Liberal Arts Education
    Liberal Educationis a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement. These broad goals have endured even as the courses and requirements that comprise a Liberal Education have changed over the years. Characterized by challenging encounters with important and relevant issues today and throughout history, a Liberal Education prepares graduates both for socially valued work and for civic leadership in their society. It usually includes a general education curriculum that provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines and ways of knowing, along with more in-depth study in at least one field or area of concentration. Original source: AAC&U “What Is a 21st Century Liberal Education?“, does that definition connect to our course? The place of business in a community has been an important – and changing – issue throughout history. This course will provide you with background on this issue, background you will need as you become a community leader. It will help you determine for yourself what values, ethics, and a sense of community you wish to bring to your work.

Signature Questions

The University Studies Program (USP) is your gateway to a 21st century college education at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. This Quest I course is the first in a series of courses you will take to introduce you to the campus and all it has to offer, the vibrant Oshkosh community, and the challenges and opportunities of academic life as you pursue a liberal education. In these courses, you’ll be exposed to three “Signature Questions” that are central to a UW Oshkosh education:

  • How do people understand and engage in community life?
  • How do people understand and create a more sustainable world?
  • How do people understand and bridge cultural differences?

The Quest classes are designed to provide a solid foundation for the rest of your education here, no matter which major you choose. Your USP courses will also provide the opportunity for you to Explore and Connect as you begin your college education. For further information about the unique general education program at UW Oshkosh, visit the University Studies Program website at


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