Category Archives: Coursewide Syllabus

1. Description

Pacific Seminar 1 is a shared intellectual experience with a uniform syllabus and common course reader that introduces students to the question “What is a Good Society?” The discussion-oriented course is designed to expose students to the rigor of university study by reading, discussing, and writing about the ideas and arguments of historical and contemporary writers who address the following aspects of a good society: (1) College learning: Perspectives on experience and knowledge, (2) Self, Family, and Community: Relations among familiars and neighbors, (3) Civil Society, Citizenship, and Governance: Relations among citizens within a nation, and (4) Global Issues: Relations across borders. Pacific Seminar 1 develops skills you will need to succeed in any field of study at the University and beyond. The course thus represents an introduction to general education in the best sense of the term: education for self-examining and self-governing citizens.

2. Objectives

PACS 1 introduces students to the intellectual life of the university. Through an interdisciplinary examination of the question “What is a Good Society?” students will begin to:

  1. Learn to communicate effectively through writing and class discussion;
  2. Critically examine significant social issues;
  3. Become more engaged in the civic life of their communities; and
  4. Develop the skills for life-long learning.

3. Readings

The readings for the course are collected in the 2012–13 Pacific Seminar 1 anthology, which is sold in the bookstore. Additional readings that are not in the course anthology can be found on the Sakai course site. Students are expected to bring the readings to class each day.

4. Assignments

Formal Essay #1                                              20%

Formal Essay #2                                              20%

Formal Essay #3                                              20%

Additional Writing Assignments            20%

Class Participation                                         20%

4.1 Formal Essays

The course requires three formal essays between 1,300-1,400 words in length (about 5-6 pages). All essays should be in 12 point font, double-spaced, with normal margins. Each of these essays will be in response to a prompt designed and distributed by your professor. Your professor will tell you the specific due dates for your class.

In each paper, you will be required to build an argument that both analyzes relevant readings from the course anthology and offers a clear response to the question asked in the assignment prompt. The essay should be clearly structured with a thesis statement in the introduction. Any reader—say, a classmate—should be able to read the first paragraph and understand exactly what your main argument is going to be. Each paragraph should build on your thesis—explaining it, giving good reasons for your argument from the readings, and offering evidence—in other words, giving good examples to build your argument.

For further detail on what is expected, please see the grading rubric attached to this syllabus. There are also sample essays of exemplary student writing at the end of the course anthology.

All formal essays must be submitted through your section’s Sakai site, where they will be scored for originality against’s anti-plagiarism database.

4.2 Additional Writing

Your professor will be assigning about 2,000 words of additional formal writing assignments beyond the three formal essays described above. This total of 2,000 words may include another large essay, short essays, reaction pieces to certain readings, formal summaries of the main arguments of articles, etc. Your professor will let you know what the requirements are for your section.

In total, all students in each section of PACS 1 will write approximately 6,000 words of formal, finished prose, although it may be distributed slightly differently from one section to another. The total amount of writing corresponds with national standards for first-semester writing courses.

4.3 Participation

Class participation is crucial to your success and the success of this course, including how much you learn and how much fun you have with your classmates. Come to class having read and/or viewed everything assigned for that day. Be prepared to ask and answer questions about the assignments, be prepared to dissect the arguments and figure out what you think about them and why you think that, and be prepared to engage in informal in-class writing about the readings if your professor builds that in as part of participation. Be prepared to consider and talk about the different kinds of works you will be exposed to: research articles, articles making a philosophical argument, stories, poems, paintings, and photographs.

“Participation” may include asking your own questions, responding to the instructor’s or fellow students’ questions and comments, contributing to group learning activities, completing in-class writing exercises, doing presentations, or participating in various other in-class activities designed by your instructor. Thus, it is more than simply talking in class each day. Class participation is an important way to develop individual critical thinking skills and to contribute to a collective learning process, which often yields greater results than studying in isolation.

Please see the grading rubric attached to this syllabus and your section syllabus for more information on the parameters, expectations, and criteria for class participation in your particular section.

4.4 Assessment

As determined by university accreditation, Pacific’s general education program must conduct assessment of its program. Your work in the course might be used for assessment purposes. Student names would be anonymous during assessment work and would not appear in any results. Thanks for your cooperation. If you do not want your work to be used for assessment purposes, please submit a written statement to the Director of General Education.

5.1 Attendance

Participating in class discussion is an essential part of the Pacific Seminar experience, and regular attendance develops the habit of being responsible for your commitments. In this course, students are allowed three unexcused absences during the semester. After three unexcused absences, your final grade for the course will be lowered by one-third of a grade (i.e., from a “B+” to a “B”) for each day that you are absent from class without a valid excuse. This means that if you miss five days of class without a valid excuse, your final grade for the course will be lowered by two-thirds of a grade (i.e., from a “B+” to a
“B-”). A valid excuse for missing class will require written documentation from a person who can certify the seriousness of your illness or other misfortune. Your instructor may require some form of make-up work for participation missed during an excused absence.

5.3 Sakai and Writing Resources

Faculty will maintain a section-specific Sakai site to enrich the Pacific Seminar 1 learning experience. The site is located at Login with your PacificNet ID and password.

The 2012–13 PACS 1 Writing Guide for the writing workshops is bundled with the course textbook in the bookstore. Many of the materials in the guide come from the following online writing resource, which is a useful reference guide for most university courses that require essays and research papers:

5.4 Honor Code

The Honor Code at the University of the Pacific calls upon each student to exhibit a high degree of maturity, responsibility, and personal integrity. Students are expected to:

  • Act honestly in all matters,
  • Actively encourage academic integrity,
  • Discourage any form of cheating or dishonesty by others, and
  • Inform the instructor and appropriate university administrator if she or he has a reasonable and good faith belief and substantial evidence that a violation of the Academic Honesty Policy has occurred.

Violations will be referred to and investigated by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. If a student is found responsible, it will be documented as part of her or his permanent academic record. A student may receive a range of penalties, including failure of an assignment, failure of the course, suspension, or dismissal from the University. The Academic Honesty Policy is located in Tiger Lore and online at

5.5 Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations, please contact the Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) for information on how to obtain an Accommodations Request Letter.

3-Step Accommodation Process

  1. Student meets with the SSD Director and provides documentation and completes registration forms.
  2. Student requests accommodation(s) each semester by completing the Request for Accommodations Form.
  3. Student arranges to meet with his/her professors to discuss the accommodation(s) and to sign the Accommodation Request Letter

To ensure timeliness of services, it is preferable that you obtain the accommodation letter(s) from the Office of SSD. Depending on course and session, the wait time may be as long as 1-2 weeks or as short as 1-2 days. After the instructor receives the accommodation letter, please schedule a meeting with the instructor during office hours or some other mutually convenient time to arrange the accommodation(s).

The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities is located in the McCaffrey Center, Rm. 137. Phone: 209-946-3221. Email: Online:

6. PACS Plus Sections (PACS 093)

Some PACS 1 sections are designated as PACS 1 Plus. Students in these sections are also enrolled in a corresponding PACS 093 section, taught by the same professor. The additional weekly meetings are mandatory and will provide extra writing support. If you are in a PACS Plus section, your instructor will provide additional information about the structure, content, and requirements for your section of PACS 093.

Note:  This section is not a PACS Plus section

7. PACS 1 Writing Mentors

There are Student Writing Mentors available in the Student Writing Center in the Library (2nd floor) specifically for PACS 1 students. The Writing Mentors offer on-demand, drop-in tutorials. They will see students on referral from faculty, by appointment from students themselves, or simply as “drop-ins.” Writing Mentors can assist student writers in the following ways:

  • Holding regular, drop-in office hours in the Student Writing Center to handle a range of writing issues
  • Consulting with students in the early stages of writing: brainstorming, outlining, idea mapping, etc.
  • Responding to first, second, or third drafts of assigned essays
  • Assisting students with required revisions of graded or returned essays
  • The mentors, however, are NOT there to proofread, edit, or evaluate your drafts. They don’t do the work for you; they help you with ideas on how you can improve.

The Writing Center is open during regular Main Library hours for student use beginning September 11. The PACS 1 Writing Mentor staffing schedule will be posted and information sent out to all faculty early in the semester. For additional information, contact Interim Director Eileen Camfield by phone at 942-2970 or email at You can also call the Writing Center at 817-1497.

8. Student Advisors

Each of you met your Student Advisor (SA) at Orientation and again at the session scheduled before Convocation. Your SA is committed to supporting your success over your first year at Pacific and will serve as a resource to you in multiple ways. Besides the usual contact you will have with your student advisor, you must also attend three meetings with your SA over the course of the year. Two of the meetings are in collaboration with your Pacific Seminar course.

The first of these meetings will continue the discussion of academic integrity and expand it to include the relationship between your personal competencies and decision making in the Pacific community. The second meeting will continue the discussion of consent in sexual relationships and your personal responsibilities for community safety. Attendance at these meetings is required, and absences will be counted in the course attendance policy described in this syllabus.

Your SA will provide you information about the specific schedule of sessions for your group. If you have questions about this portion of the Pacific Seminar experience, please contact your student advisor or call Student Academic Support Services, 946-2177.

PACS 1 Writing Instruction Overview

Reading carefully and critically lays the foundation for college-level writing. PACS 1 has a number of days in its schedule specifically devoted to helping students understand the requirements and practices of college-level writing. Some of that time will be devoted to learning principles and practices and some will be spent working with other students in peer review.

Once again, the main rubric categories will be an important part of the framework:

  • Focus: The development of a purposeful claim in a clear thesis
  • Support: The use of reasoning and gathering of evidence to strengthen the thesis
  • Coherence: The arrangement of the parts of an argument / paper to enhance the flow of reasoning from one part to the next and make a coherent whole
  • Correctness: The crafting of sentences and paragraphs correctly so as to express the writer’s ideas
  • Style: The selection of words and refinement of sentence structures to create a sense of the writer’s attitudes in the development of “voice.”

Writing Workshop 1: The big picture and the need for academic integrity.

  1. Academic writing starts with careful and critical reading—”inhabiting” a text to find out what its author says.
  2. It responds to ideas from texts by “critiquing” them—testing their reasoning and evidence.
  3. Both inhabiting and critiquing are necessary; neither one is enough to constitute good academic writing by itself.
  4. Academic integrity means knowing the requirements and forms of academic work.

Writing Workshop 2: A clear main idea (thesis) and reasoning and evidence to support it.

  1. Developing a good thesis begins with discovering what it is you want to say.
  2. Developing a thesis means clarifying the relationship among main points.
  3. Support is the development of main points with reasoning and evidence.

Writing Workshop 3: A good structure moves from point to point, and clear sentences and paragraphs express ideas and shape attitudes.

  1. Coherence: orderly paragraph structure to guide the reader.
  2. Correctness is absolutely essential! Tripping up the reader with mistakes creates an irritated audience!

Writing Workshop 4: All good writing is re-writing, and nothing engages the reader more than a strong sense of voice in an essay.

  1. Revision: Rewriting means taking a fresh look, not just patching and filling. Is there a better way to make your point?
  2. Editing: Using words and sentences effectively.
  3. Style: Word choice matters! Developing your own “voice” gives the reader a sense of your commitment to your ideas. That makes for strong engagement.

Participation Grading Rubric

PACS 1 is a seminar, and its primary classroom activity is discussion; this is why participation counts for 20% of the course grade. The components of class participation are attendance, attentiveness, and contributions.

Attendance means being present, mentally as well as physically, AND being prepared with the day’s materials—like having read the day’s assignment carefully. Working on other courses, surfing the web, texting friends, napping, etc., mean that you’re not really mentally present. Note that the course has an attendance policy.

Attentiveness means listening carefully, being a good audience for whomever is speaking, incorporating ideas into your own thinking, and preparing to respond with your own contributions.

Contribution means adding something worthwhile to the class’s progress. Obvious examples are speaking up to engage ideas from the readings or to respond to other students, or to the instructor’s questions. Less obvious but also valuable contributions might be to ask questions to clarify meaning—a passage in the text, another student’s remark, or something the professor said.

Example of a question: “What does the author mean by______?”
Example of an interpretation: “I think the author means ______ where she writes ______.”

The A is earned when a student almost always contributes thoughtful ideas, asks interesting questions, and responds reflectively not only to the professor’s questions but to other student comments as well. These students are highly attentive. A-level participation can be recognized as offering insightful connections between ideas and/or readings, as being well grounded in the readings, and as provoking more discussion without dominating the discussion.

The B is earned when a student usually contributes thoughtful ideas, asks relevant questions, and responds not only to the professor’s questions but to other student comments as well. These students are reliably attentive. Their engagement is evident but the analysis may not be as deep or wide-ranging as an A-level student’s. They will have almost always completed the readings and other course materials and be prepared with questions and interpretations.

The C is earned when a student comes to class and listens and occasionally offers an observation, question, or critique. These students are unevenly attentive. They may show minimal engagement with course readings and other materials. They may occasionally show lack of respect for other students and instructor by not paying attention, such as texting or surfing the Internet, or studying for other classes.

The D stands for deficient participation. This may be a result of not having done the reading, of being inattentive in class, of not interacting with classmates respectfully, sleeping or doing other work during class, or some combination of these and similar poor classroom performance.

The F is for unacceptable participation; it is a failing grade.