from Quote Fancy

from Quote Fancy


LIF 101.454A: The Heroic Journey

LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York
First Year Seminar for the Liberal Arts: Social Science & Humanities
Spring I 2018

Professor: Dr. J. Elizabeth Clark

Student Success Mentor: David Brandt

Office: E-103H

Office hours: Click here to access the sign up sheet for a reserved appointment. New appointments are available beginning each Sunday. 

Phone: 718.482.5665 (Liz’s office)



(Heroic Journey Prologue)

Welcome to a grand new adventure! As you begin to settle into your college routine, you will probably find that you have many questions. You will run into many new situations.  

In this course, we are going to work together to figure out strategies to make you a successful college student here at LaGuardia and beyond. We will discuss college life, policies, procedures, and the day-to-day workings of the college that will affect your career as a student. 

We will also delve into your major: what is the liberal arts? Why are you studying it? What will it help you do? Along the way, we will also work on short and long term goals to help you get to where you want to be! 

We’re going to use the metaphor of a heroic journey to guide our work. You are the hero of your own story. This semester, we’ll figure out what quests and challenges lie ahead of you, what tools you need, what strengths and tools you already have, and the best path for you to reach your goal. 

I’m excited to work with you this semester! Welcome! 

(Meeting with the Mentor)

Class: Mondays, 9:15-10:15 a.m. in E-140
Class: Wednesdays, 9:15-10:15 a.m. in E-140
Class: Thursdays, 9:15-10:15 a.m. in E-303

Studio Hour with David Brandt: Tuesdays, 9:15-10:15 a.m. in B-121

(Tools for Your Quest)

1.    LaGuardia Community College Catalog of Courses 2017-2018

2.    Notebook, personal flash drive or cloud credentials for saving material

3.    Course Materials (Syllabus, Assignments, and Course Calendar)

4.    College credentials for email, Blackboard, ePortfolio, and the My LaGuardia portal

5.    Lynn Jacobs & Jeremy Hyman, The Secrets of College Success (ISBN-13: 978-1118575123)

6.    Nnedi Okorafor, Binti (ISBN-13: 978-0765385253)

7.     Additional Readings: Assigned weekly on Blackboard & the course syllabus


(Crossing the Threshold)

The First-Year Seminar is required of all new students majoring in Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities. Its goals are to introduce students to the liberal arts, help students transition to campus culture, develop a better understanding of the learning process, and acquire academic skills. Taught by liberal arts faculty and supported by peers, advisors, co-curricular professionals, this course addresses issues related to contemporary college life and majors within liberal arts. 

Part of LaGuardia’s First Year Experience, this course is designed to assist incoming students majoring in Liberal Arts (Social Science and Humanities) to make a successful transition to their major and college life. The course’s pedagogy reflects current First Year Seminar practices, and its discipline-based content develops students’ strong and persistent connections to the College and to the goal of achieving academic, personal, and professional success. 

This is a three credit course. It entails three classroom hours with your instructor and one studio hour, in which you will work with a peer mentor to create and develop your e-Portfolio, and apply concepts discussed during lectures. Your instructor and peer mentor will work closely together to offer a unified learning experience for you. 

Class Requirements
(Rules of the Quest)

Quicksand is a huge danger in heroic quests. Any good hero knows, if you aren’t in the right place at the right time, you may face unexpected dangers. How do we avoid quicksand? Well, the first way to ensure that you are not sucked into a horrible mire of wet and sucking sand is to be where you’re supposed to be. In short, be here, be on time, and be ready to go. Have your work with you, prepared ahead of time. 


You can’t slay a dragon if you’re not paying attention. When you are in class, I hope that you will be fully engaged with your ideas, with your peers, and with me. Our time together is for ACTIVE discussion and work. No sitting in the back row. No texting instead of talking. No sleeping. I want you ready for action! 




Make your own bow & arrow, or lightsaber. You are going to create in this class. You will create 3 reflective narratives, complete a 4-page project, and give an oral presentation. Throughout the semester, our readings, homework assignments, and class participation will help you in the formal work for the course. 


Detours are often the most informative parts of a journey. Any hero knows, checking out a cool cave or getting stuck on an asteroid just MIGHT give you tools or information you need for a later part of your journey. So, as part of our work in this course, you are going to go on at least one detour, otherwise known as a co-curricular event and document your participation in those events. These are assignments which will take you beyond the classroom and introduce you more fully to the college experience. 



Do you prefer a bag? A satchel? A battered suitcase? A spaceship? Whatever your preferred method of collection, in this class we’ll be collecting your work and your assignments in your ePortfolio. Your ePortfolio is a record of your journey during your time at LaGuardia. It will highlight work you do in your courses, give you a space to reflect on what you’re learning, and help you document your progress towards your degree. While you will begin your ePortfolio in LIF101, this is an assignment that spans across semesters, throughout your time at LaGuardia.  



No one makes movies about silent heroes. This will be a very interactive, discussion-based class, and I want to know what you’re thinking! It’s important to create an atmosphere where all students are comfortable expressing their views at all times. So this means respecting each other even when our views differ and being generous with each other.



Absent heroes aren’t heroes. They’re casualties. Attendance is not optional. I expect that you will be in class unless there is a serious emergency or illness. If you miss class or studio hour, you will need to make up the work. Excessive absences will lead to failure of the course. This is non-negotiable. If you’re not in class, then you’re not really taking the class, are you?




Technology is cool and helps a hero, but I expect you to apply it selectively. Texting, checking social media, and generally using technology for play rather than the work and focus of our course will count against your participation grade.

(Tool Shed)

The materials for our course will be located in three places: here, on Liz’s website, Blackboard, and your own individual ePortfolio. 

(The Ordeal)

The following instructional objectives are the goals of the course (what the instructor expects to achieve):

1. Introduce students to the foundational knowledge, key concepts, and habits of mind of the liberal arts, including close examination of appropriate texts.

2. Familiarize students with the types of research and methods utilized in the liberal arts.

3. Familiarize students with the concepts of ethics and values related to liberal arts.

4. Provide students with fundamental writing, reading and speaking opportunities necessary to develop essential skills for college success.

5. Support new students’ transition to college by orienting them to College purposes, policies and culture, and structuring engagement with faculty, staff, and other students.

6. Familiarize students with key academic support resources related to student life and engage them in using these resources to advance academic success.

7. Connect students with their advising team, which will guide them in setting goals, exploring educational and career options, and developing an individualized educational plan.

8. Provide students with sustained opportunities to cultivate academic habits of success.

9. Design opportunities for students to situate and contextualize their learning by making connections across disciplines, to prior learning, and to non-academic learning experiences, including co-curricular learning.

10. Guide students’ exploration and collaboration across the contours of global diversity as manifested at LaGuardia Community College. 

(The Ordeal)

These objectives describe what the students should be able to do at the end of the course:

1.  Demonstrate foundational knowledge and habits of mind essential to success in the liberal arts, for example: observation, interpretation, critical thinking, synthesis, analysis, reflection and evaluation.

2. Explain types of research and methods within liberal arts and the ways these are applied in the disciplines. 

3. Interpret the values and ethics of liberal arts and discuss how these values and ethics directly influence personal, academic, and professional success in their careers. 

4. Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and logic of academic writing; show a basic level of proficiency in the fundamental writing, reading and speaking skills necessary to deliver information in a contextual and coherent manner. 

5. Define the purposes of higher education and the policies and expectations of LaGuardia Community College and its faculty; engage with the life of the College through active curricular, advising, and co-curricular participation. 

6. Locate the multiple resources available at LaGuardia and use these to solve academic problems related to advising, course selection, academic skills, and extracurricular activities. 

7. Identify education and career goals and prepare an individualized educational plan, based on a structured exploration of personal interests, skills and values. 

8. Define and practice academic survival and success strategies (e.g. note-taking, active reading, test preparation and taking, collaborative learning skills) and the self-management habits necessary for academic success (e.g. time management, motivation, self-responsibility and financial literacy.) 

9. Demonstrate the use of skills and knowledge gained from diverse experiences to enhance learning and success. 

10. Describe the diversity of LaGuardia Community College and demonstrate capacities to collaborate across differences in culture and perspective. 



Every day when we come together, our class will follow a rhythm:


What's up for the day? What's coming up? What's happening? Think of it as the daily agenda and the immediate future. Housekeeping items will be written on the white board. 

Check In

How's it going? This is a course about you and your goals. How is the first semester going? Do you have questions? Do you need help? Are you excited about a new idea or experience?

Discussion (of the homework, of readings, of ideas)

This is the first of three core parts of our time together. We'll be sharing our ideas about readings and homework, sharing our thoughts and questions. 

Exploration (of a resource, a new topic, an idea)

This is the second of three core parts of our time together. We'll have hands-on time to consider new ideas. 

Analysis (of the discussion / exploration. This may happen through discussion, through an activity, or through writing)

So, what's the big idea that we want to remember? Any take aways from the day? Anything we want to explore in more detail?

Wrap Up

What do we need to do before we head out the door before our next class meeting?

(The Reward)

Students who pass the course will receive a letter grade (A to D–) reflecting overall performance in the course. There is no R grade. A grade of F will be given to a student who makes no progress (or cheats) or who does not fulfill the course requirements. Excessive absences will negatively impact your course grade, including possible failure of the class. Uninspired participation will negatively impact your course grade.

Each student’s grade in this course will be determined as follows:

COURSE COMPONENT                         Percentage of Course Grade

  • 3 Reflections @ 5% each                                                  15%
  • 1 Co-Curricular Reflection                                                 5%
  • ePortfolio                                                                          20% 
  • Oral Presentation                                                              5%
  • 1 Project (4 pgs minimum)                                                15%
  • Quizzes                                                                              5% 
  • Homework and BlackBoard Posts                                  20% 
  • Participation                                                                      15%


(The Approach)


The short version: Absence counts. A lot. Come to class on time. Three late arrivals will equal one absence. I assume you want to be in school and you want to learn. So, you’ll want to be in class to do those things! 

The extended version: Attendance at class meetings is required and will play a significant role in my evaluation of your performance. While college is more than just showing up (you can’t pass the class by JUST showing up), showing up is a start. All instructors are required to keep an official record of student attendance. Absences are counted from the first class meeting even if these are a result of late registration or change of program.

The maximum number of absences allowed for this course is the equivalent of two weeks or 8 hours, including studio hour. It's worth noting that just because you can have 8 hours of absence doesn't mean you should use all of those hours. Being in class and being present is an important marker of success, motivation, and focus in your work. Significant attendance issues will negatively impact your grade. After 8 hours or more of absence, you will fail the course. Remember, late arrival counts towards those 8 hours. Tick, tick, tick. Don’t let the clock work against you.


The College has established an Academic Integrity Policy that describes procedures and penalties for students who are suspected of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York and is punishable by penalties ranging from a grade of F on a given test, research paper or assignment, to an F in the course or suspension or expulsion from the College. Academic dishonesty includes cheating, plagiarism, Internet plagiarism, obtaining unfair advantages, falsification of records and official documents, and misconduct in internship. Students who violate the Academic Integrity Policy in this course will fail the course. 
Policy on assigning the grade of Incomplete

As stated in the college catalogue: "The Incomplete grade may be awarded to students who have not completed all of the required course work but for whom there is a reasonable expectation of satisfactory completion. A student who is otherwise in good standing in a course defined as complying with the college attendance policy and maintaining a passing average but who has not completed at most two major assignments or examinations by the end of the course may request an incomplete grade. To be eligible, such a student must provide, before the instructor submits grades for the course, a documented reason, satisfactory to the instructor, for not having completed the assignment on time. Instructors giving IN grades must inform students in writing of the conditions under which they may receive passing grades. Departments may designate certain courses in which no incomplete grades may be awarded.”


Under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, LaGuardia Community College has an implicit responsibility to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to its programs and services, and that the rights of students with disabilities are not denied. The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) provides advocacy to ensure access to all college programs and facilitates the transition to college life for students with disabilities. All students are required to register with supporting documentation. Appropriate accommodations and services are determined and include: 
•    academic, career and personal counseling
•    priority registration
•    academic advisement
•    support services such as assistive technology and tutors; proctoring exams for students.


LaGuardia Community College embraces diversity. We respect each other regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability and social class. I expect that you will want to work with me to create a classroom climate comfortable for all students as spelled out in the college’s Declaration of Pluralism, which can be found in the college catalog.

(Training, Equipment, and Advice)

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YES! Read for class!

Please come prepared, having completed the reading for each class and any assignments by the required due date. 


All classes will be conducted in seminar format meaning you should be prepared and ready to talk, participate, and share your ideas. I want to hear what you have to say! Your classmates want to hear what you have to say!

YES! Ask questions!

Not sure about something? Want to explore it further? Confused? Stop the clock! Ask your questions! We ALWAYS have time for questions!

YES! Outside Research!

Always feel free to bring in other ideas, other perspectives, and information you have found outside of class!

YES! Be Creative!

Have another idea for an assignment? Want to come at it a different way? Want to propose something different? It's your education! Talk to me and we'll figure it out! There is ALWAYS space for creativity here!

YES! Make It FUN!

Learning can be a challenge. But, it can also be fun. Let's make it fun (and challenging). 

YES! Make Time!

You've committed to this class and to your semester. So, let's make time. Make time to do your work well and be proud of what you're accomplishing. Make time to read, to write, to think, to question. Need help with your schedule? Swing by office hours and I'll help you hack your schedule!

YES! Class = Space (and Time)

Our time together is sacred. What I mean by that is: it's set aside. We've made space in our schedules to come together to learn together. So, let's honor that space. The classroom is a space where we can temporarily shut out our worries, our concerns, our other responsibilities. Let's make the most of this space by being in it together fully and mindfully. 

YES! Ask for Help!

I'm here to guide, coach, and help. If you need something, just holler. Let me know how I can help you be successful!

YES! Revisions!

Sometimes, we don't get it right the first time. Major assignments (not homework) are always eligible for revision for a higher grade as long as they are turned in on time the first time!

YES! Growth and Change!

If you're the same person at the end of the semester, with no new ideas, no new thoughts, and no new information, I didn't do my job. Let's all grow and learn together!


The Nope List. 



Nope: Cell phones / Digital Distraction / Music

Please turn off all cell phones and electronic devices and put them away when you come into class unless we are specifically using them for a part of class. 

Nope: Absences

Don't miss more than 8 hours of class including the studio hour or you will fail due to attendance. Attendance issues will negatively impact your grade. Three “lates” equal one absence.

Nope: Lateness

Our class meets for 1 hour. If you're even 10 minutes late, you've already missed a significant amount of time. If you do come in late, slip into your seat, focus on what's going on, and don't distract the flow of your classmates' work or our group discussion. 

Nope: Skipping Assignments / Late Assignments

Please complete all the assignments and actively participate in the class to earn a passing grade for this course. Late projects and assignments will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade per day. Late drafts are not eligible for revisions because you already took extra time. 

Nope: I'm not reteaching a class just for you

If you miss a class, please check Blackboard or the course schedule. Class doesn’t stop just because you’re absent, so please stay on top of assignments. You can also get notes from a class member. 

Nope: Plagiarism

Not your work? Then you didn't earn a passing grade. 

Nope: Packing Up Early

Please do not pack up before class is over.

Nope: Rudeness

This is a special space where we get to exchange ideas and consider how to form and share our ideas. Please don't be rude to one another (or to me!). 


  • 3/2: First Day of Classes
  • 3/7: Last day to ADD or Change a course
  • 3/7: Last day to DROP a class without a “WD” grade
  • 3/18: Last day to drop a course with a “WD” designation
  • 3/19: Withdrawal period begins. Dropped classes have a “W” designation
  • 3/30-4/8: Spring Break. No Classes
  • 5/5: Last Day to to apply for Spring 2018 Graduation 
  • 5/10: Last Day to WITHDRAW from a class
  • 5/28: No Classes   
  • 6/4: Last day of weekday classes
  • 6/5: Reading Day, no classes
  • 6/6-6/12: Finals Week
  • 6/13: Grades Due

Course Calendar

Co-Curricular Calendar: "What's Up?"