DMS 200: Digital Portfolio

Course Description: Digital media students often publicly showcase their work while pursuing internships, careers, and postgraduate education. To prepare for this, students in this course will design interactive portfolios to showcase their work. Digital portfolios present unique challenges because, like much public work, they frequently engage multiple audiences that might have conflicting expectations. In this course students will explore their professional interests, identities, and goals in order to identify relevant audiences. Based on their audience and purpose, students will focus on making effective choices about platform, style, content, and design in order to create their own portfolios. Using self-reflection as well as peer and instructor feedback, students will revise and refine their work across the semester. Students will also be encouraged to seek external feedback from professionals in the field.

Course Policies
Course Schedule

WRT 105 – The Science of Good and Evil

Course Description: Traditionally philosophers have examined ethical questions but recently scientists have been experimenting about what is right & wrong. Can entrenched philosophical problems like whether one ought to kill one person to save ten be solved with brain scans? Are there questions that cannot be answered by science? Students will develop writing skills by investigating what scientists can tell us about ethics. We will explore the limits of science through an investigation of ethical theory and utilize various media including podcasts, popular science magazines and classical philosophical works to compare and contrast ethical and scientific methods. Students will evaluate the arguments in short essays to enhance critical analysis skills. We will focus on creating written work that is clear, organized and thoughtfully elaborates on arguments based on a clear thesis. This will be accomplished through class discussion, peer-review, self-assessment and revision. The course will culminate in an 8-10 page research paper.

Course syllabus

Writing 105 – Human Happiness

Course Description: What is happiness? We seek it, talk about it, see it all over the news, but are we all talking about the same thing? Philosophers try to understand the nature of happiness while psychologists are concerned with measuring it, but often these projects are isolated from each other. We will look at various approaches to understanding happiness and use critical reading, writing and discussion to think about how the philosophical and psychological projects are compatible, or not. We will use podcasts, popular media and scholarly articles as a jumping off point for entering these debates. Furthermore, we will focus on how writing principles such as audience and purpose function across disciplines by looking at how different fields have approached questions of happiness. Students will be expected to write several argumentative essays, which will go through a process of peer-response, revision and self-assessment, culminating in an 8-10 page argumentative research paper.

Course Policies
Course Schedule

WRT 265 – Argument and Evidence Across Contexts

Course Description: In this course students will investigate the following questions: What is argument? What is evidence? To answer these questions, students will also think deeply about how context does or does not shape our understanding of these concepts. For instance, what do arguments in STEM fields have in common with those in the humanities? Do different fields such as philosophy, psychology, and biology share evidence and argumentative strategies? Is the meaning of evidence static across these fields? We will begin by investigating different models of argument from philosophy and argumentation theory, and then students will use these broad models to investigate and analyze argument in academic contexts of their choice. We will also explore how these theoretical accounts of argument apply to popular contexts such as advertising, public deliberation, and journalism. Students will explore these issues through reflective writing, several short papers and a research project of their own design.

WRT 274 – Psychology: Communicating your Professional Identity

Course Description: This interactive course teaches “real life” communication skills and strategies that help students present their best professional selves and develop a fulfilling career. Students will explore and articulate their internship, career and graduate school goals for distinct audiences and purposes as they develop a professional communication portfolio of materials such as resumes, cover letters, statements of purpose, electronic communications, elevator pitches, project descriptions and abstracts, and online profiles (i.e., LinkedIn). Students will revise and refine their written and spoken work across the semester based on feedback from peers, instructors, and alumni. By the semester’s end, students will have gained extensive experience with the communication skills expected in today’s competitive environment. The class can be used to fulfill 1 of 2 required Upper-Level Writing experiences in psychology, and is suitable for junior and senior psychology majors; all others require instructor permission.

WRT 370: Creating Digital Identities

Course Description: Creators in a variety of fields share their work on digital platforms: designers collaborate to change the world (, storytellers and literature buffs blog to create beauty and insight (, developers collaborate to solve problems (, and fine artists build galleries to showcase their work ( In this class, students will explore their creative and professional identities through both reflection on their own work and rigorous research into relevant audiences whom they intend to engage. We will also go beyond individual identity to explore community identity and investigate the interplay of individuals and communities. This knowledge will be used to construct a digital portfolio that makes effective choices about platform, style, content, and design, based on their own goals and interests. Using self-reflection as well as peer and instructor feedback, students will revise and refine their work throughout the semester.

Character, Dog Whistles, and the Limits of Charity (forthcoming)

Abstract | Both the principle of charity and responsibility condition are thought to be central elements of argument reconstruction and productive discourse. These conditions are problematic in arguments that contain various forms of deception. In this paper, I will focus on multivocal appeals (popularly known as dog whistles,) which are meant to be heard by only certain audience members. I will argue that arguments containing dog whistles require more nuanced tools to reconstruct the argument.

Will appear in the Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Argumentation.

Annihilation of Desire in Jain Ethics as a Challenge to Western, Subjectivist Notions of Well-being (2019, with Katherine L. Schaefer)

Abstract | Many accounts of well-being aim to be maximally accommodating with respect to the good life by focusing on what people take to be good for themselves. Some popular Western philosophical views attempt to do so by focusing on the subjective phenomena of desires and preferences, thereby ostensibly avoiding complicated questions about metaphysical commitments; similarly, clinical conceptions aim to be metaphysically neutral. We test these notions of well-being by investigating Jainism and its commitment to a metaphysics of reincarnation and the existence of souls. Assuming that well-being is a broad prudential value that identifies what is good for a person, we argue that Jain well-being is best understood as a value souls possess, rather than bodies, that actions that contribute to well-being depend on where that soul is on the path to eventual bodily liberation, and that ultimately well-being is epitomized by the annihilation of desires. Turning to Western clinical ethics—Beauchamp and Childress’ influential principlism in particular—we explore how a Jain who is on the path to eventual bodily liberation via a fast to the death might be treated, and the difficulties inherent in applying an ethics framework that remains neutral about the existence of souls, or the effects of acts on those souls. We conclude that no account of well-being is complete without an account of its fundamental metaphysical commitments.

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Patience, Temperance, and Politics (2019)

Abstract | The purpose of this paper is to use an Aristotelian framework to investigate how political parties flourish and which virtues facilitate their flourishing. I argue that political parties flourish when they are fulfilling their nature as central actors in democracies by aggregating interests, cultivating candidates, sustaining membership, enacting legislation, and working towards the common good. I further argue that given the nature of political parties and their role in large democracies, cultivating the virtues of patience and temperance are particularly important. These virtues are fundamental for party flourishing because if parties, especially governing parties, fail to work together and instead pursue short-term gains merely to maintain power, political parties will not only fail to flourish but risk self-destruction.

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