Washington Center

General Research: Developing Critical Writing and Thinking Skills Through Independent Research

Term or Semester: 
Day and Time: 
Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. PT
Quarter Dates: 
March 24 - June 2, 2021
Core Seminar

Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness” to describe the tendency of people to “go with their gut” rather than facts and evidence in evaluating the world around them. We are all affected by biases that obstruct critical thinking. Challenging these biases is essential to making rational, evidence-based arguments and decisions. A  primary concern underlying public discourse and policy making about issues such as COVID-19, climate change, school testing, immigration, poverty, gun control, mass incarceration, and so many other contemporary issues is the availability, validity, reliability, and utility of evidence to support arguments on one side or another. We will spend this term developing and using the critical thinking and writing skills necessary to examine and propose solutions to real-world problems. Students will develop research projects on a topic of their choosing, preferably related to the work of their internship organization. They will work independently and in small groups, if possible, throughout the multi-stage writing process.

Remote Syllabus

About the Instructor: Professor Jennifer Diascro is the Associate Academic Director of the University of California Washington Program (UCDC) and a political scientist. She earned her BA in political science from the University of California, San Diego (1990) and her PhD in political science from the Ohio State University (1995). She was on the faculty at the University of Kentucky (1995-2002) and American University (2002-2010). In 2000-01, she was a Supreme Court Fellow at the US Sentencing Commission in Washington, DC. Before coming to UCDC, Professor Diascro was a senior director at the American Political Science Association (2011-2015). She's authored or coauthored peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, on topics related to American judicial politics, and is CO-PI on an NSF award for a workshop on success and failure in the academy.

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