General Course Policies

Basic Information:

Professor: Meghan Sullivan (Associate Professor, Notre Dame Philosophy Dept)

Preferred Contact: sullivan.329@nd.edu

Head TA: Paul Blaschko (PhD Candidate, Notre Dame Philosophy Dept)

Preferred Contact: blaschko.1@nd.edu.

Office Hours: Monday 5-6pm and by appointment.  (You must email in advance to confirm Zoom meeting for office hours).

Course Description:

Welcome to God and the Good Life!  In this course we will be searching for answers to four “big” questions of life:

  1. Should you practice a religion?
  2. What do you owe other people?
  3. What would it take for your life to be meaningful?
  4. How should you decide what to believe?

Our goal is to help you developed your own, well-reasoned answers to these questions over the course of the term, while teaching you what some major philosophers have proposed as answers.

Course Vision:

Prerequisites:

This course satisfies the University’s 1st Philosophy Requirement, so you should not have previously satisfied this requirement.  (For instance, by taking PHIL 10100.)

Textbook and Course Materials:

There is no textbook for this course.  All required readings and media will be linked the the course WordPress site, under the relevant syllabus.  Course resources will be a combination of texts in PDF format, interactive digital texts in web format, and videos and media on YouTube.  You need a computer or tablet to access these resources, to submit assignments and to participate in class debate.

Overall Course Structure:

The course consists of live online meetings on Monday and Wednesday nights, as well as outside work you will do to prepare for our live meetings.  It is structured in four components.

Preparation Before Class: You should read and/or view every resource listed under the date for a particular class. At least 24 hours before our in-class session you should submit your 4 Questions answers.  You should also do any writing preparation assigned for the upcoming class meeting.

In-Class Debate: The first hour of each class will be an in-class debate of current issues related to the philosophical stance we are considering.  For instance, do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?  How would a natural theologian like St. Anselm approach this question?  Where do you agree or disagree with the approach?  How should views about the public or private nature of religious knowledge guide laws about religious freedom?  You’ll be expected to come to  he debate prepared to stake out a position, to raise suggestions and objections to your classmates, and to examine all sides of the issue in an informed way.  I will call on certain students during class to defend their answers.  You’ll also fill out polls, write-in answers, and vote for positions.  You are expected to be an active, informed participant in every class meeting.

Sustained Dialogue: In the second hour of class on Wednesdays, you’ll meet in a smaller, intensive Sustained Dialogue group.  Your group will learn some best practices for holding community discussions around religious and moral identities.  And you’ll engage in a dialogue about religious and moral issues in your lives and in the world.  Along the way, your group will also help you develop your written assignments for the course.  After each Sustained Dialogue meeting you are responsible for filling out a group and self evaluation and submitting it within 24 hours.

Written Assignments: The second hour of class on Mondays will be devoted to helping you craft (and share) your written assignments for this course.  In addition to your Four Questions, you’ll also write three op-ed style essays defending a philosophical stance on a current issue.  And you’ll work on your apology project over the course of the semester, getting guidance at each point from me and your classmates.  You’ll be responsible for bringing drafts to this workshop time and for providing comments on other students’ drafts.

Rubrics and Detailed Instructions for Assignments can be Found on the Grading and Assignment Policy page.  All assignments are due when assigned unless you have an official excused absence and approval from Prof. Sullivan.