Monday, August 31, 2009

MAST 411: International Maritime Cultures first day of class

This has always been one of my favorite classes. The last time I taught it we had a hurricane and the class, more or less, was an unqualified disaster (we all did our best). This semester I have a renewed enthusiasm and, with your help, this will be the best semester ever.

I have a particularly rigorous schedule planned. This course is officially "writing-intensive" but it is now in transition to "communications intensive." That means you'll be giving presentations as well. The bottom line: you will do a lot of research, writing, discussion, and presentation. Expect this to be one of the most intensive courses you have taken in a while. If you are taking this course as an elective, you might rethink that. If you are concurrently taking other intensive courses, especially History of American Seapower, you really should rethink that.

We went over the syllabus in class, but here are a few points of emphasis and clarification:
  1. You must keep backups of your work and turn in your portfolio several times during the semester. I can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping backups. You are responsible for turning in your work on time, or resubmitting it if asked at any time for any reason.
  2. Attendance is mandatory unless you have a prior written arrangement with me. If you know you are going to miss a class please let us know ahead of time.
  3. It's very important that you read all the material when assigned and complete the assignments thoroughly.
  4. The first book is Protecting the Arctic: Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Survival. The first quiz and the first assignment are due a week from today.
  5. The second book is hard to find. You must have Coastal Cultures: An Anthropology of Fishing and Whaling Traditions, no later than October 5th. I will have a copy that you may read in my office if absolutely necessary (it may not leave my office).
  6. This class is a little bit like a final exam for the MAST program. The assignments not only test your mastery of the content, but also measure your preparedness for life after college; notably your individual responsibility, mental toughness, ability to work with others, and professionalism.
  7. I want you to succeed. I will try to live up to your expectations.

MAST 289 Introduction to Maritime Studies first day of class

Today was the first day of class for MAST 289 (ever!). It was fantastic to see such a great turnout; I had expected about 6 to 10 students but over 20 enrolled. Although I did go over the syllabus, most of the time I spent in a philosophical discourse on the importance of working hard to be excellent at what they do. The MAST Program is an excellent one, but it's a team effort.

  • Welcome to college. This is the "big leagues." Your degree here is what you make of it. Hundreds of thousands of people will earn degrees in the United States the year you graduate; consequently, your goals need to look beyond graduation, you need to become someone who distinguishes themselves from the pack. I strongly recommend that you choose "excellence" as the means to distinguish yourself.
  • Perfection may be impossible, but by pursuing perfection you might achieve excellence. This goes for you and me both.
  • This course is designed to help you develop the skills and maturity necessary to excel in college. Unlike other courses that merely expect you to be responsible, I have designed a rigorous curriculum that encourages and rewards good scholarship.
  • Do your work, turn it in on time, attend class every day, do not make excuses, be responsible (even when it's not your fault), help others develop responsibility, be a leader.
  • Make backups of your work (this is extremely important)
  • The first quiz is in one week. Make sure you prepare. I will have a copy of the textbook in my office for you to borrow for an hour at a time in case you don't have the textbook yet. If you would like me to order a textbook for you come to my office.
  • I am your advisor and your professor. I really (really) want you to succeed. Please respect my office hours. I Prefer to meet by appointment.