College 002: on-line discussions

During the course of the term, there will be six on-line discussions, each lasting two weeks.

The typical time structure of a discussion will be as follows:

Question is announced Tuesday around class time
You submit a 150-word "dropbox" answer Before Thursday's class
Instructors kick off a threaded discussion Friday (or so)
Threaded discussion continues Through the next week
You submit a second 150-word "dropbox" answer Before Tuesday's class

The questions will also be sent to you by email, and will be available on line as well.

The "DropBox" answers, and the threaded discussion, will take place on the CourseInfo web site for this course.

To submit a DropBox answer:

  1. Use a word processor or text editor to compose your answer, and save it as a file
  2. Log in to the CourseInfo site.
  3. Go to Student Tools>Student DropBox
  4. Upload your answer file to your dropbox, following the instructions given.

To participate in the discussion:

  1. Log in the CourseInfo site .
  2. Go to Communication>Discussion Board
  3. Choose the Forum for the current question.

We'll give you more information in class and via the class email listserv about the details of this process, which is a new one and may change as a result of experience.

Question 1:

(First answer due by 1:30, Thursday Jan. 18; final answer due by 1:30, Tuesday Jan. 30)

Imagine that scientists have found Bigfoot: a population of mammalian bipeds living in the wilds of northwestern North America. This discovery raises many questions of law, policy and morality. Can these newly-found creatures be captured and put on display in zoos? Is it murder to kill one? Do they have property claims to the lands they inhabit? Can they register to vote? Much depends on whether the newly-found creatures are considered to be human or not.

Answer in 150 words or less: How should we determine whether these creatures are to be treated as legally human? What other questions should we ask about them?

Question 2:

(First answer due by 1:30, Thursday Feb. 1; final answer due by 1:30, Tuesday Feb. 13)

(Mail your answer to, with the subject line "Question 2, first answer", or "Question 2, final answer")

What can you say about the phenomenon of hip-hop music from the perspectives of human biology, language and culture?

This time, unless you already know a lot about this topic, you might consider doing a small amount of research on the web before starting.

For example, searching for "hip-hop history" on turns up "The history of hip-hop" "The history of hip-hop in Japan" "Hip hop history in Cape Town"
and so on. Searching for "hip-hop language" or "hip-hop culture" should be similarly productive.

Finding useful material on the biology of hip-hop will take more creativity, but you can find interesting connections, especially with evolutionary speculations. For example,
will allow you to search Charles Darwin's "Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex" for the word 'music', and you may find some of the results relevant. You'll find a modern reprise of Darwin's ideas in this interview with Geoffrey Miller (search for "evolution of music")

Please don't take these particular links to be definitive ones. The point is just that "information is out there."

Remember that you should only write 100-150 words: think, and be concise!