Spring 2022 - HUM 101W D100

Introduction to the Humanities (3)

Class Number: 7193

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    HCC 2510, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 25, 2022
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    HCC 1800, Vancouver



An introduction to issues and concepts central to the study of the Humanities. Through exposure to primary materials drawn from different periods and disciplines, students will become acquainted with a range of topics and ideas relating to the study of human values and human experience. Students with credit for HUM 101 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Why are you at university? What do you hope to gain from the experience? Perhaps simply job training— or do you hope for something more, and what could that be? Together we will ponder the purposes of education and ask what value it has for us as members of communities hoping for fulfilling lives? We will be addressing these questions at a time when authoritarianism is rising in many countries; a time of increasing polarization of the wealthy and the impoverished, and all of this situated within an even wider global context of looming ecological catastrophe that demands we work together across a range of different ideologies, creeds, and identities. What, if any, connection exists between education and our collective ability to address these pressing problems faced by each one of us?

We will read and view works from ancient to modern times, and from different parts of the world, that present varying perspectives on the above questions. First, we will read texts linked to two thinkers who challenged the status quo: Plato (428/427-348/347) and Zhuangzi / Chuang Tzu (ca. 369-286) to understand some of their thoughts related to, for example, justice, knowledge, truth, and meaning. We will then study the ideas cosmopolitan Indian poet, writer, musician, and artist Rabindranath Tagore, who thought that creativity and learning could pave the way for a global sense of connection and mutual understanding. We will then read diametrically opposed responses to these ideas in the writings of two women: Ayn Rand and Martha Nusbaum. Both of them refer to long-standing ideals of human cultivation and social order drawing on classical Greece, and South and East Asian writers mentioned above. Finally, we will ponder some of the points made by British-Ghanaian philosopher, Kwame Akroma-Ampim Kusi Anthony Appiah, concerning culture, identity, unity, and division.


  • Reading Quizzes (5) 20%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Participation 10%
  • Two draft essays (not graded, peer reviewed) 0%
  • Two final essays (graded) 40%



Nussbaum, Martha. Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. (ISBN 978-0691173320)

Rand, Ayn. The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. New York: New American Library, Penguin Group, 1961. (ISBN 0-451-16393-1)

Rouse, W.H.D., trans. The Great Dialogues of Plato: Complete texts of The Republic, The Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Ion, Meno, Symposium. New York: Penguin, 2015. (ISBN 978-1-101-21298-1)

Watson, Burton. Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press; Revised ed. edition 1996. ISBN-10: 0231105959


Tagore, Rabindranath. The Religion of Man the Hibbard Lectures for 1930. New York: MacMillan and Company, 1931. https://archive.org/details/religionofmanbei027987mbp/page/n10

Examined Life. Sphinx Productions. Montreal, Toronto: National Film Board of Canada; Sphinx Productions, 2008.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. The Lies that Bind (There is a compelling book by this title, a series of BBC lectures, and an interview. We will watch the interview, though I do highly recommend Appiah’s BBC Reith Lectures.)

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.