Welcome to Critical Thinking: Think Democracy! Here you will find everything from the most up-to-date syllabus, the course schedule, readings outside of the textbook, assignment instructions and rubrics, a calendar with upcoming due dates and events, and additional resources that will help you through the course.

You can access the Blackboard site for the course here.

Students brainstormed about our course’s theme and the relationship between democracy and critical thinking.

Course Description

This course explores the process of thinking critically and guides students in thinking more clearly, insightfully and effectively. Concrete examples from students’ experience and contemporary issues help students develop the abilities to solve problems, analyze issues, and make informed decisions in their academic, career and personal lives. Substantive readings, structured writing assignments and ongoing discussions help students develop language skills while fostering sophisticated thinking abilities.

The theme of this course for the semester is democracy. Our working premise is that critical thinking and democracy mutually support and inform one another. On the one hand, members of a political society must think critically in order to sustain the healthy functioning of their democracy and to check abuses of power. On the other hand, democratic values and institutions are crucial for cultivating an environment in which free dialogue and critical thinking can flourish. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the nature and value of democracy and analyze current political debates around inequality, immigration, racism, gun control, mass incarceration, climate justice, implicit bias, and the #MeToo movement. Students will also have an opportunity to engage with the theme of democracy in their research project where they will conduct research at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives in order to analyze and propose solutions to a problem facing New York City.

Field Trip to Democracy Now!

On Friday, May 25th, 2018, our Critical Thinking course went on a field trip to Democracy Now! Students saw a live-taping of the news show, toured the studio, and were able to speak with Amy Goodman. Below are additional instructions and details about the field trip that students received, which I have kept here for archival purposes:

  • You will receive extra-credit if you attend this field trip and you will be given a Metrocard with fare to pay for your transportation there and back (funding provided by the Humanities Alliance).
  • Here’s a video about what we would do on the field trip: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=eK85GcU1XWk>
  • Here’s a description from Democracy Now! about what we would do on our field trip: “Students will enter the control room of the daily news show minutes before going on air, watch the live broadcast, and participate in a workshop, where the need for independent news and investigative reporting will be discussed. If time allows the host of the show and show guests will join the conversation. Afterward students will go on a behind-the-scenes tour, where they will be introduced to the daily process of producing a news program.”
  • You can check out the website for Democracy Now! here. The field trip would be at 207 West 25th Street, 11th floor near the corner of 7th Avenue in Chelsea. The early time is so that we would be able to watch the live broadcast.