Teaching and Learning in the School of Humanities. The Department of Philosophy showcases the First-Year Module ‘Reason and Argument’ (PP1RA) and the new Second-Year Module ‘Truth and Bullshit’ (PP2TBS): Interview held by Dr Rebecca Rist (School Director of Teaching and Learning) with Dr Nat Hansen (Department of Philosophy).

1.          How long has the Department of Philosophy offered the Part One ‘Reason and Argument’ module (PP1RA) and why have you decided also now to offer a new Part Two module ‘Truth and Bullshit’ (PP2TBS)?

The module ‘Reason and Argument’ was offered for the first time last year. It is a revised version of a long-standing skills-based course called ‘Critical Thinking’.  My colleague Professor Emma Borg redesigned the course for First Years to include a career component in line with the University of Reading’s push to include career advice and placement opportunities in curriculum design.  ‘Truth and Bullshit’ is based on a module that I taught at the University of Chicago that was called ‘Telling the Truth: Scepticism, Relativism and Bullshit’.  The course was developed as part of a Tave Teaching Fellowship–a competitive teaching award at the University of Chicago–and it subsequently also won an award for course design from Chicago’s Center for Teaching and Learning.   The idea behind the ‘Truth and Bullshit’ course is to introduce central topics in philosophy that will have broad appeal not just to students majoring in philosophy but also to joint-degree students across the School of Humanities and the University. And it’s a really fun class to teach!

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Teaching and Learning in the School of Humanities: The Department of History Introduces the Third-Year Module History Education (HS3HED): Dr Rebecca Rist (School Director of Teaching and Learning) interviews the module convenor, Dr Elizabeth Matthew

1.       Why has the Department of History decided to introduce the third-year module History Education?
The idea for History Education arose from two coincidental events in mid-January 2011.  A message landed in my inbox calling for applications for Faculty of Arts and Humanities ‘Think Space’ funding for curriculum-development projects to enhance student employability.  Earlier the same day I had seen media coverage of league tables ranking secondary schools by the number of students gaining GCSE passes at A*–C in English, maths, two sciences, a classical or modern foreign language, and either geography or history.  With this new EBacc (English Baccalaureate) measure of performance raising the profile of history in schools, the ‘Think Space’ scheme seemed an ideally timed opportunity to consider a new initiative to help some of our students enter careers in history education. Having close links with the Historical Association (the subject association for history at primary and secondary level) as past president of the local branch in Reading and a current member of the HA Council, I was also keen to offer some practical support for history in schools.  I knew that the university’s Chemistry Department already offered its students credit-bearing placements in local schools.  I wanted the History Department to do this too, ahead of any similar moves within BA History programmes at competitor universities in the south of England.

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