IDS 261-W: Western Civilization and Culture          MWF

Fall 2015

For Tuesday – Thursday Schedule, click here

 For Monday – Wednesday Schedule, click here



General Description:

This course is structured around a consideration of fundamental cultural questions that speak to present Western culture and have animated Western civilization from its beginning. Students will read and interpret original texts and other cultural artifacts that address these questions. Students will make connections between the liberal arts and science disciplines, as well as between the various aspects of culture in the major stages of Western civilization. This semester will focus on economic, social, and political questions.


Course Objectives:

(1) Students will come to a fuller appreciation of what it means to live in a civilization and culture, primarily through a study of Western civilization and culture.

(2) Students will read and interpret primary sources, that is, original texts and other cultural artifacts.

(3) Students will demonstrate the effective use of the tools (e.g., cause and effect, sense of chronology, multiple causation, continuity and change) needed to understand and evaluate the components of culture.

(4) Students will make connections between the liberal arts and science disciplines, as well as between the various aspects of culture in the major stages of Western civilization.

(5) Students will apply the lessons learned from investigating earlier cultures as a diagnostic tool for comprehending contemporary cultures.

(6) Students will analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of the cultural institutions that societies have formed in various civilizations and cultures over time.

(7) Students will explain and provide informed discussion of the ideas and concepts that peoples have fashioned to address the larger questions (e.g., how do we know what we know, how have societies been governed) and to give more complete meaning to their lives.


Staff: Dr. Junius Rodriguez, coordinator; Dr. David Eisenberg; Mr. William Feipel; Dr. Loren Logsdon; Prof. Marty Lynch; and Mr. Jason Zimmerman.


Required Text: Western Civilization and Culture, vol. 1, second edition, Copley Custom Publishing, 2006.


Attendance & Participation:

Since the class is based on discussion, attendance and active participation are crucial. Five points for each unexcused absence will be subtracted from attendance points. Excused absences for school-sponsored events, etc., must be approved prior to the missed class, and unexcused will only be waived for dire and documented occasions.

Participation will be measured against the following standard: if a student attends class with textbook, is prepared, and listens attentively, but says nothing, then he or she can expect no more than a C for the participation points.



Unannounced quizzes will be brief and designed mainly to test reading preparation for both presentation and discussion days.  Some will be open book. Students will drop their two lowest quiz grades out of twelve given (this allowance should cover any zeros due to absences).


Writing across the Curriculum


Eureka College deems writing to be a fundamental component of learning. Therefore, the College has established the Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) program. This course (IDS 261W) is one of the specifically designated WAC courses that you will complete during your time at Eureka College.


Some of the objectives that we hope to attain in IDS 261W to improve your writing skills are the following:


(1) Effectively summarize, analyze, and synthesize and know the appropriate contexts for any approach.


(2) Evaluate the credibility of various viewpoints and contexts and incorporate them appropriately. This includes identifying possible biases and questionable or critical assumptions.


(3) Have a logic to your organization such as consistently tying evidence to a central thesis or idea and employing effective transitions and varied sentence structures.


To this end, the defining features of all writing courses at Eureka College are:


  • Writing is used as an important means of learning


  • Students will receive feedback on the quality of their writing (in addition to their content knowledge)


  • Writing will be a central method of assessing student performance.


In order to satisfy these defining features and to help you attain the previously listed objectives, the essays that you write for IDS 261W will go through a modified drafting phase. Within the first two weeks of each unit (i.e.: Political, Economic, & Social) you will prepare a preliminary essay response on the designated unit question. Your instructor will read, mark, and comment upon these preliminary essays and return them to you by the end of the third week of the unit. At that point, you will receive the formal essay question for the unit. The formal essay question will be one that allows you to incorporate elements of your preliminary draft into a larger essay framework.


Formal Essay Papers

Each student is required to submit three essay papers, about three to four pages (750 to 1,000 words) and worth 100 points each.  Topics will focus on unit questions and will require students to analyze or synthesize several of the readings from each of the units. Papers are due approximately three days after we finish each unit.

Political:    Wednesday, Oct. 7

Economic: Monday, Nov. 9

Social: Friday, Dec. 11

Penalty for late papers will be ten (10) points per day subtracted from your total.

Papers must be submitted in both paper and electronic forms (the latter will be stored in a database and examined for irregularities). If you are not familiar with the College's policy on plagiarism, please see the section entitled “Plagiarism” in the Eureka College 2015-16 Student Handbook (to be found online, under “Academic Integrity”) Our policy in this course is to fail any student for the course who plagiarizes a paper. If you have any questions, please consult your instructor.

The Learning Center: The Learning Center, located on the first floor of Alumni Hall, provides academic services to all Eureka College students.  Consultations are available in the areas of math and writing.  Study groups, individual academic counseling and course-specific tutoring are also available by contacting Jason Zimmerman at x6520 or 

Special Needs: Any Eureka College student with a disability or other special circumstances requiring accommodations or other consideration in order to successfully complete the requirements of this course is requested to identify himself/herself to the instructor and discuss the matter privately.  This disclosure should be made within the first week of the course so proper accommodations can be made. 

Course Grade:



100 points



100 points



100 points

Preliminary Essays


Formal Essays

(3 @ 50)


(3 @ 100)

150 points


300 points



750 points



Wed - August 26                    Introduction to the Course


The Political Unit

Fri - August 28                        Introduction: Is the U.S. the best government? Or what is the best form of government?

Mon - August 31                     Presentation # 1

Wed - September 2                 Plato, Republic

Fri - September 4                    Aristotle, Politics

Wed - September 9                 Pope Gelasius I and Augustine, City of God

Fri - September 11                  Machiavelli, The Prince

Mon - September 14               Presentation # 2

Wed - September 16               Hobbes, Leviathan and Locke, Second Treatise on                                                                Government

Fri - September 18                  Declaration of Independence, Declaration of the Rights of Man, Federalist # 10, U.S. Constitution

Mon - September 21               Rousseau, Social Contract

Wed - September 23               Presentation # 3

Fri - September 25                  Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

Mon - September 28               Marx, Communist Manifesto

Wed – September 30              Port Huron Manifesto and Black Panther Platform


The Economic Unit

Fri – October 2                        Introduction: Should the person who takes out my appendix live better than the person who takes out my trash? Or what is economic justice?

Mon - October 5                     Plato, Republic; Plato, Laws; Aristotle, Politics

Wed - October 7                     St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologica, and Qur'an selection on Usury

Mon - October 12                   Presentation # 1

Wed - October 14                   Locke, Second Treatise on Government

Fri - October 16                      Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality

Mon - October 19                   Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Wed - October 21                   Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population

Fri - October 23                      Presentation # 2

Wed - October 28                   Marx, Das Capital

Fri - October 30                      Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath

Mon - November 2                  Galbraith, The Affluent Society


The Social Unit

Wed - November 4                 Introduction: Do I need other people? Or how do the structures of society best realize our social nature?

Fri - November 6                     Presentation # 1

Mon - November 9                  Sophocles, Antigone

Wed - November 11               Book of Proverbs

Fri - November 13                   Swift, A Modest Proposal

Mon - November 16                Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality

Wed - November 18               Christine de Pisan, City of Women and Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Fri - November 20                   Presentation # 2

Mon - November 23                Thoreau, Walden, and Noyes, Bible Communism

Mon - November 30                Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Wed - December 2                  Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Fri - December 4                     Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

Mon - December 9                  Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Wed - December 9                  E. O. Wilson, On Human Nature