Ah, the start of another semester. That exciting time of the year when you meet new students, make new goals, and invariably curse at the copy machine as it refuses to churn out syllabi for you. Such is mid-January in academia.
Or rather it will be on Tuesday. That's when it all kicks off here at ASU.
This semester I'm teaching two courses. The first is my Origins, Evolution and Creation course that I have been teaching since 1998. Every year I get students from varying religious and educational backgrounds and we examine the evidence for creationist claims (after spending some time thinking about the nature of science and religion). Over the years it has morphed from a course largely examining "scientific creationism" to one examining intelligent design and I can spend time teaching them
how to think critically and analyze scientific arguments. In previous year it had been a relatively small course (~40 students), now we have 160 lined up ready to go. The course fulfills a graduation requirement here at ASU, so of the 160 students, many will be graduating seniors, most will be non-science majors, and unfortunately many will care less about the content than getting the required credit. Such is life.
The second course is our Honors "great ideas" course; two classes of nineteen freshman students engaged in a Socratic discussion-based seminar based on reading original texts. In this case, our readings will include Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Confucius, Dante, Lao-Tzu, Aristotle, Aquinas, Thucydides, Montaigne and more. All good fun, especially considering we read most of the work in-whole rather than as extracts ... plenty of opportunity for good, meaty discussion.
Oh, and I have five students finishing honors theses with me. It will be a busy semester.