Authenticity and Human Nature

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Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday 9:30-12:00, Third Floor, Caroline Hall


Cornerstone 1000 – Authenticity and Human Nature

I held a world about me; ’twas my own
I made it; for it only liv’d to me.
William Wordsworth

“A person has as many social selves as there are [groups of] individuals that recognize him and carry an image of him in their minds.”
William James

“One is not born a woman, but rather one becomes one.”
Simone d’Beauvoir

“It is clear that being authentic is not just a matter of concentrating on one’s own self, but also involves deliberation about how one’s commitments make a contribution to the good of the public world in which one is a participant.”
Charles Guignon


The Cornerstone courses are, for many North Park students, the first courses you take at college. They are the foundation of the Core Curriculum. They introduce you to North Park’s vision of Christian liberal arts education through a multidisciplinary and multicultural inquiry into the human person, while equipping you with college level skills in written communication, information literacy, and critical thinking.

All Cornerstone courses teach these skills in the context of a basic philosophical question: “What does it mean to be human,” or in one very modern Western version of that question, “What does it mean to be a self?”

This Cornerstone course, in particular, approaches the question of human identity through the idea and ideal of authenticity.  Whether in refers to how we think about ourselves, our cultures, or our

Required Texts in Order of Use

Rules for Writers, Diane Hacker
On Being Authentic, Charles Guignon
Authenticity and Culture, Charles Lindholm

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, each student will demonstrate through written and oral communication,

  1. A critical understanding of a variety of conceptions of 
human nature in both its individual and social dimensions.
  2. An understanding of the intellectual history and contemporary cultural meanings behind the idea of authenticity as it emerged in European and American culture.
  3. Greater awareness of one’s own cultural and ethnic identity.
  4. The ability to read, write, and discuss philosophical ideas in line with 1st year university level expectations
  5. What it means to become more nearly human.

The above learning outcomes particular to this section of Cornerstone contribute to the overall learning outcomes of the North Park Core Curriculum. These outcomes are:

  1. Integrative and Applied Learning: Integrate the knowledge and methods of multiple disciplines within the general education curriculum to explore significant and enduring questions of human experience.
  2. Self-Awareness: Practice introspective and critical self-awareness of one’s own assumed beliefs, prejudices, ignorance and status in society.
  3. Communication: Demonstrate effective written, oral, and visual communication skills and sensitivities.
  4. Inquiry:  Retrieve and interpret information and scholarship in particular contexts to formulate constructive questions

Course Methods

To a significant extent, this is a philosophy course. This means that it will demand good listening, critical thinking, introspection, and a respect for good conversation. The methods of this course provide you with the skills, values, and intellectual resources needed to sustain a life-long quest for understanding. But it does take courage to examine one’s own self, so prepare yourself.

  1. Readings: Generally, there will be a reading assignment for every class session. You will be expected to show that you have done the reading. Some of these readings you may find comfortable and familiar, others you may find stimulating or challenging and still others you may find disturbing or even offensive. Some may bore you. Each text provide differing points of view and different ways of thinking about identity and were chosen for their ability to stimulate thought and discussion, not because they are your professor’s favorite books.

** Because classes are based upon discussion of the readings, you must purchase your books as promptly as possible. If you get behind at the start of the semester, you’ll find it very difficult to catch up later. “I don’t have the book” is no excuse for not doing the work. You should own your own copies of all of the books so that you can take notes and mark places in them.  If you don’t have the funds, please see Academic Services to see if you qualify for the Textbook Assistance program. Otherwise, please see me. **

  1. Lectures: All classes will be discussion based, but they will either begin or end with some lecture. Lectures provide background information on our materials or provide new disciplinary or theoretical perspectives for understanding them.
  2. Discussion: Come to class ready to offering something that you have learned from your readings or something you want to question or critique. Being a student in this class is not a spectator sport. We will work together to establish a learning community in which you may develop intellectual friendships with your peers and professor.
  3. Writing: Good writing is both a goal and a learning method of this course. The processes of writing help us read critically, think and think through complex issues, and then re-think again.

Writing Advisers will participate in our formal writing assignments, but you will be asked frequently to complete informal writing assignments as well. Chief among these in this section will be summaries of the required readings from the night before, “one-minute surveys” written at the end of classes. These “surveys” simply answer the 2 questions “What is the most important piece of information or idea you encountered today?” and “What is the most important question you are going away with?”

  1. Co-Curricular Elements: Cornerstone is designed to introduce students to expectations for university work. It models the overall university experience, by connecting to elements outside the classroom. The course works side by side with the North Park Voyage to build learning communities and support students in their adjustment to life at the university. For these reasons, the course’s success depends on a strong co-curricular element consisting of the following:

Campus Theme Lectures: All students are required to attend the two campus theme lectures, and encouraged to attend all three. Some of these take place on Friday’s at 10:30.

Common Read Program: Students are required to participate in the Common Read Discussions taking place on September 18.

Chicago as a learning environment: We will be going out into the city to do coursework. But you will be required to attend one evening play later in the semester.

Building learning communities: The professor will create opportunities for community inside and outside of class times. In our section, you will work both in-class and out-of-class in assigned and self- selected groups and to interact with each other in a variety of ways. Working with Writing Advisors is also a form of learning community.

But don’t rely on us to build your communities for you. You will get the most out of your studies—and, incidentally, have more fun doing them—if you forge some of your own. For instance, you might make some interesting friendships if you go to lunch or dinner with someone who has interesting things to say in one of your classes. Or you might actually study better and remember more if you get a group together to study outside of class.

Supporting students in university orientation: Academic Services, working with the peer academic advisors, present workshops on study skills, time management, negotiating diversity, and wise choices in university life. Student Support services provides students with career planning, counseling, and so forth. Please take advantage of these outstanding opportunities.

Assignments and Grading

All assignments must be completed to achieve a passing grade. The assignments include

  1. Formal Essays (55% of final grade) There will be three essays worth 15%, 20% and 20% respectively.
  2. Exams: (25% of final grade): There will be 2 major exams on the Guignon and Lindholm texts.  These will test your reading comprehension of these works.
  3. Projects (10% of final grade) Students will work in small groups to participate in three class.
  4. Informal Participation: (10% of final grade): Students are expected to attend class regularly, participate in discussions, demonstrate knowledge of readings, and submit informal writing assignments.

Attendance Requirements: Regular attendance in class is expected. More than 3 unexcused absences will result in a 10% reduction in the overall student grade. Excused absences include required participation official university organizations (with written notice from the university organization), illness that requires a doctor’s or hospital visit (with written notice from the doctor and/or student services), family trauma (with written notice from student services.) 6 or more absences (excused or otherwise) will result in a failing grade for the class regardless of student performance in other areas. Every 3 tardies or early exits is the equivalent of 1 missing class.

Special Scheduling for Cornerstone Classes

Cornerstone classes at North Park have a unique structure to their schedule. There are several elements that are common to all Cornerstone classes across the university, and some elements that are unique to your particular section. These include:

  1. Some Friday classes we will meet at 10:30 am in a location to be announced. If you are unclear on the schedule, check with your professor.
  2. Attendance at the Common Read Discussion and Campus Theme events is required.

Ethics Policy

Classroom Behavior

North Park University is a Christian Liberal Arts Institution. As such, we expect our students and faculty to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity. Therefore, each student is expected to uphold high ethical standards inside the classroom. The classroom should be an environment for learning. Therefore, behavior that is disruptive, which belittles another or which discourages others from achieving their academic goals has no place in this classroom. In a word, you are called to respect your fellow students, your professors, and yourself.

Academic Misconduct

When you turn in an assignment and take credit for it, it must be your own work. If it is not, you have committed academic misconduct.


Plagiarism is representing the work of someone else as your own. Most commonly this occurs by copying from a textbook or other source and failing to give proper credit to the author. You may avoid this problem by always using quotation marks whenever you use someone else’s exact words and by always giving references whenever you quote from or paraphrase another author. For example, if you read a secondary source on Augustine’s Confessions to discover how to interpret the primary text, and use that idea in your paper, you must give credit to where you received the idea. Citing sources does not make a paper weaker, but rather strengthens it by showing that you are in dialogue with other scholars. Please read through the section in your Writing Handbook on plagiarism.


If you give or receive unauthorized aid while completing any of the requirements for this course, you have cheated. Giving answers during an exam, writing a paper for another student or copying another student’s work and taking credit for it, are all forms of cheating. Assistance from the writing lab, talking with a professor or fellow student, or forming a study group before an exam are all acceptable forms of aid.


The penalties for violation of this ethics policy will range, at the discretion of the instructor and North Park University, from having to redo assignments, to failing the course, to an appearance before the Dean, and in some cases expulsion.

Miscellaneous Notes

Work Turned in Late

Late work is defined as work turned in after the class session on the day the assignment is due.

Exams: Exams must be taken on the days they are given to the entire class. Unexcused absence from an exam will result in an exam grade of zero.

Project: Any student absent from a Project Day will receive a zero for the graded portion of the project performance. The Project summary paper may be turned in the day of the debate or before. Late summaries will be penalized 10 points a day.

Essays: Both rough and final drafts of essays are due at specific times. Each day the paper is late will result in a 5% reduction of the final grade for the assignment. The professor is not responsible for returning late assignments back in the usual timely manner.

Use of Student Work in Class: I will on occasion use excerpts from student work as examples for class discussion. If you object to your work being used in this way, please inform me.

Students with Special Needs: North Park University seeks to provide an environment and community where each person may develop academically, socially and spiritually. North Park is committed to full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of university life.

Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Student Support Specialist by email, by phone at (773) 244-5737, or stop by the office located on the first floor of the Johnson Center in the Center for Student Engagement. Please do so as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely manner. If needed, appointments can be relocated.

Final Proviso

The instructor reserves the right to alter this syllabus at any time should it be warranted by the demands of sound pedagogy. Changes to the syllabus will be announced in class. In any event, the posted, e-text versions of the syllabus and schedule of classes are authoritative, taking precedence over any printed version.