Tuesday, your job is to refine your question

Considering that we will be trying to explore the work of professionals in the Human Sciences – particularly the work that scientists do to discover new knowledge – you will be working today to refine your topic into a research question, crafting a hypothesis, and then beginning your research into this topic.  In a document, your job is to craft these into a cohesive proposal for your project.  Your proposal will include:

  1. Name, Date and Topic
  2. Your research question
  3. Your initial hypothesis (it answers the question with your best guess)
  4. Your initial bibliography (it will have roughly 5-10 quality sources)
  5. Questions that remain

As you move from your initial hypothesis into research, you should consider the Knowledge Framework we discussed earlier in the unit, in particular:

  • Scope
  • Language/Central Concepts
  • Methodology

Given that, today in class, we discussed poverty as a topic, here is what a project based around poverty would look like (and, no, you can’t also choose poverty as your topic).

  1. Maria Sharma; March 1, 2016; Poverty
  2. What is the best way to determine a minimum standard of living?
  3. The poverty threshold is too low – it doesn’t consider basic needs like participating in a democratic society – so, therefore, a new measure needs to be constructed.
  4. Initial Bibliography
    1. Seattle Times – The city of Seattle plans solutions to homelessness in Seattle by moving the homeless out of the Jungle.
    2. Consultant Barbara Poppe recommends doing away with Tent Cities

      a multimedia project exploring the values imbedded in the poverty line

      “Poverty lines vary in time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and values”

      – The World Bank, Poverty Analysis Overview

  5. Questions that remain:
    1. What is the difference between “absolute poverty” and “relative poverty” and how is each measured?
    2. What do the following measure and how do they measure it: The Poverty Line, the Human Development Index, the Cost of Living Index?

Keep a record of what you are able to produce in class.  You do not have to print it out…Yet.


As we begin our exploration into the Human Sciences

We shall begin with a complement to the IB textbook’s chapter 18 which effectively introduces three aspects of the Human Sciences: Psychology, Economics, and Sociology/Anthropology.  In the activity we did yesterday, we considered the Discussion Activity on page 322 and looked to explain the differences between History and Social Sciences in terms of three (plus) criterion central to the field:

  1. Scope
  2. Language/Concepts
  3. Methodology

With that in mind, we are moving our discussion to political science.  Let’s start with you. Take this Political Typology quiz from the Pew Research Center.  Print out your responses.  Then, spend some time working through the data.  Read this extension article regarding the discussion.  Consider the three numbered items above:  1) the Scope of what is considered by the pollsters 2) the Concepts and word choice of the pollsters and 3) the methodology used by the pollsters.

When you are done, try this  2016 presidential campaign quiz to see who you align with. Does it fit with what you thought?

Looking further ahead, we will be working on independent projects focusing on the scope, concepts, and methodology used in the Human Sciences.  After reading Jill Lepore’s article in the New Yorker, consider the implications… After that, a simple starting place is Nate Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight. Check out this NPR interview with him – especially on the methodology he uses.

After talking with some of you about your prompts…

I think this is the time to give some general suggestions regarding the demands of each prompt.  Consider the below input for each prompt as you look to revise your essays before the Friday submission.

  1. this one is off limits.
  2. Most of you have been encouraged (by me) to also consider the role of metaphor as a way to know something in the abstract.  Don’t let that overwhelm your essay, however.  DO consider how knowledge develops (within two areas of knowledge)… and you should also consider whether natural selection works as a metaphor for understanding this development.
  3. this one is also off limits.
  4. Most of you are considering diverse Areas of Knowledge as you respond.  That is good.  You should also consider whether you should discuss knowledge that (one could argue) is valuable, yet without application in the world.
  5. Some of you are considering the knower’s perspective and how that perspective influences the concepts we use.  That is a sound approach, but it is not the only way to approach the question.  If you are not considering the knower’s perspective, consider it.
  6. Most of you are defining accuracy and simplicity differently in each of two Areas of knowledge.  The prompt implies that one diminishes as the other increases.  It would be wise to also consider ways that both accuracy and simplicity are apparent (and there is no trade-off).

IF you are going to miss school this week…

Please know several things are essential:

  1. You MUST get a pre-arranged absence form approved to get an extension
  2. You MUST get quality editing of your essay and THEN improve your essay after you have considered that quality editing (and you must have evidence of that editing).
  3. You MUST edit another student’s (complete) draft of the essay (and have evidence that you have given quality editing feedback).
  4. You MUST submit a first draft in to turnitin.com
  5. You MUST be productive in class (and not distracted or inefficient).
  6. IF you have done these steps, I will consider an extension beyond Friday in class.