Happiness and Wisdom Basic Course Information

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Basic Information / Course Syllabus

  • Instructor: Dr. Mark Alfino
  • Course Title: Philosophy 432: Happiness and Wisdom
  • Contact Information and office hours at alfino.org
  • Course Description: This course provides an introduction to philosophical and general research on happiness and wisdom.
  • Course Learning Outcomes: See below
  • Course Schedule, Graded Activity, Texts, and Assignments: See course wiki at alfino.org

University Core Outcomes for this Course

  1. Integrate the principles of a Jesuit education, prior components of the Core, and their disciplinary expertise (knowledge).
  1. Clearly and persuasively communicate with an audience of diverse educational backgrounds, personal experiences, and value commitments using ideas and arguments based on evidence, logic, and critical thinking (skill).
  1. Assess the ways in which the Core has transformed the commitments and perspectives that will inform their future endeavors (attitude).

Goals of the Course

Some activities and sub-goals which will move us toward these outcomes include:

  1. Understanding, integrating, and critically assessing theories from a wide range of disciplines on the nature of happiness and wisdom (e.g. philosophy, moral psychology, anthropology, biology).
  2. To use this integrated understanding to develop a personal theory of happiness and wisdom.
  3. Developing analytic and expressive skills central to the accomplishment of learning outcomes and course goals.

Assignments directed toward these goals and outcomes

  • All of the assignments in this course are directed toward the course research questions, course goals, and course learning outcomes. Early the term, reading quizzes help students adjust their reading and preparation goals. Writing assignments begin with short, informal writing, building to peer reviewed exercises. This is in preparation for a late term paper and final paper. All of the assignments focus on course research questions, which break down the more general course and core curriculum goals.

Explanation of how the course assignments meet the core learning outcomes for the course

  • The assignments meet the three core learning outcomes by building on skills in order of complexity. The learning outcomes target advances skills in persuasive argumentation, problem resolution, and respectful advocacy. Students will benefit from writing and basic argumentation excercise early in the course, using peer reviewed study questions. These component skills will then be incorporated into the more integrative assignments of the midterm essay, paper, and final essay, which directly target the learning outcomes' emphasis on argumentation, problem solving, and advocacy.

Writing Enriched Course Learning Outcomes

  • After completing this course, students will be able to:
  1. Students will be able to demonstrate competency in formal and informal writing specific to the discipline in which the writing occurs.
  2. Students will be able to integrate appropriate primary and secondary research in their writing by the means customarily used in the discipline.
  3. Students will be able to incorporate feedback received during an intensive revision process.

Assignments that support the Writing Enriched Course Learning Outcomes

  • Points 50-70% of grade. "Points" includes small written assignments, peer review writing, and back evaluations. Specific assignments including:
  • Informal writing prompts: 2 200 word assignments, with minimal peer review.
  • Short writing 1 (SW1): 400 word writing exercise with peer review
  • Short writing 2 (SW2): 600 word writing exercise with peer review
  • Critical Analysis Paper: 3-4 page paper discussing a central question in the course.
  • Final Paper: an 8-10 page paper presenting the student's personal philosophy of Happiness and Wisdom.
  • Depending upon student choices for optional assignments, between 80-100% of the grade for the course is based on writing. Many optional assignments also include writing.


  1. I do accept late work, but you must complete all work in the course to receive a grade.
  2. I have a flexible attendance policy.
  3. You must disclose any work that you are turning in for this course that you are submitting or have submitted for other courses.
  4. You must comply with all university policies concerning academic honesty, sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct.