Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Citizen Scholars
Core Courses

Citizen Scholars students take two core courses, AL 110 & AL 210, designed by College of Arts and Letters faculty exclusively for the program. Freshman take these courses in their first year, with other students from their CS cohort. This shared experience allows them to collaborate on projects and form bonds with others in the program. 

AL 110: Writing and Civic Life (4 credits)

The course replaces the Tier I writing course for all incoming CAL majors who commit as aspiring Citizen Scholars. Students will undertake research and writing projects that allow them to engage with democratic discourse through the consideration of social, cultural, and political problems, political processes and the practices of democratic participation and critique, historical movements for social and political justice, and similar topics.  The core concerns of the Citizen Scholars program will guide the selection of materials and the interactions of the course, and the five writing projects will similarly reflect the goals of the program. A small group of materials will be taught in all sections of the course, and co-curricular activities and events will augment the normal coursework. Far more than a writing course, this course is designed to establish the basis from which students will build their connections to the program and to their CS student cohort.

The Five Writing Projects are common to all Tier I writing courses, but adapted and shaped to fulfill the aims of the CS Program.  

Learning Narrative Project

Invites students to consider their experiences with learning in and out of school to encourage them to reflect on the relationship between their learning histories and present lives, and to recognize that their experiences both in and out of school can be useful as resources for academic inquiry--even as the narrative itself will eventually become a useful resource for academic inquiry, especially as a resource for the final reflective narrative. 

Cultural Artifact Project

Invites students to inquire into cultural values in which they are implicated as learners, by choosing an everyday object as the focus of guided exploration. 

Disciplinary Literacies Project 

Enables students to learn about the literacy practices of a discipline or profession of their choice by looking at textual products as cultural artifacts to understand how the texts of their disciplinary field are cultural and rhetorical.

Remix Project 

Builds on the learning of the first three projects by the making rhetorical moves implicit in these projects the explicit focus of attention.  

Reflective Learning Narrative Project

takes students’ own learning as an object of inquiry. It invites students to reflect on the development and uses of their learning over the course of the semester: to make claims about what they have learned, to set goals for their ongoing learning, to propose the means for achieving those learning goals, and to use the evidence and examples they have created throughout the semester to support each of these types of claims. 


AL 210: Course Overview

This course will include a common basis and a particular focus. The common basis shared by all sections over all semesters covers the nature of democracy, dialogue, dissent, citizenship, justice, critique on the more conceptual level. The particular focus for each section is determined by each instructor who selects a social, cultural, or political problem to use to illustrate and practice deliberation, engagement, and critique.  Commonality will arise in content from the basic discussion of democracy and in form through a set of projects that engage students in identifying and working to resolve the particular issue.  Each year the faculty teaching this course might also meet beforehand to determine the extent to which they might create commonality in other ways, e.g. a specific film, an invited speaker, etc.

5 Course Parameters & 5 Core Projects 

For the common basis among all courses, faculty will draw from a set of recommended sources drawn from various CAL disciplines (departments as well as interdisciplinary programs). 

Faculty teaching the course have leeway to choose a particular focus that involves social, economic, cultural, or political justice and that also reflects various modes of participation in democratic deliberation and decision-making broadly construed. 

AL 210 Courses Offered for Spring 2018

AL 210-001: State, Nation, Religion and Democracy in the Middle East

AL 210-002: Gender Inequality and Democratic Debate in Africa

AL 210-003: Theater and Social Justice: drama and performance as political and social intervention

AL 210-004: Democratic Discourse & Critique: artists and intellectuals challenge threats to democratic values and institutions

AL 210-005: Genetics, Ethics, and Public Policy: engaging ethical and policy questions through democratic deliberation