Gathering knowledge and learning the truth about the world around us is a fundamental part of human development and progress. While most of us take knowledge and truth for granted, the processes by which we understand our political, social, cultural, physical, biological environment has become particularly salient in the last year – and notably in the last several months – as we’ve been confronted with an ever-increasing post-fact and post-truth world.
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; these biases influence how we hear and understand new information, whether we question assumptions, and how we disentangle opinion from fact.
Challenging these biases is essential to making rational, evidence-based argument and decisions. A primary concern underlying public discourse and policy making about issues such as climate change, organic food, fertilizers, Zika virus, school testing, Brexit, poverty, hunger, gun control, and so many other contemporary issues including the presidential election, is the availability – and the validity and reliability – of evidence to support arguments on one side or another.
This seminar is designed to develop skills required to be a critical observer of and contributor to our world through the use of evidence-based arguments. We will spend the next 11 weeks using critical thinking and argumentation skills to examine a research question related to the work of students’ internship organizations.