Culture: The Building Blocks

Faculteit University College Groningen
Jaar 2019/20
Vakcode UCG1AC05
Vaknaam Culture: The Building Blocks
Niveau(s) bachelor
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester I a
(dit vak wordt ook buiten deze periode aangeboden; zie opmerkingen)

Uitgebreide vaknaam Culture: The Building Blocks
Leerdoelen Students will be able to:

1)Characterize the basic elements of culture such as signs, language, artefacts, art, science, etc.
2)Recognize these basic elements (see 2.) when studying primary and secondary materials
3)Understand how culture is a product of both phylogenesis and ontogenesis
4)Identify works of culture as reflection on a cultural issue in a specific context
5)Use works of culture to reflect on cultural issues
6)Jointly reflect both historically and critically on culture and cultural issues and take a reasoned position on it within a debate
7)Engage effectively in oral, written and electronic communication with peers, experts and engaged laymen
Omschrijving This course offers an introduction into the basic elements, or ‘building blocks’, of human culture. The elements discussed are:

1)the distinguishing features of human culture
2)the development and evolution of cultural behaviour in humans
3)imagination and artifacts
5)theoretical knowledge
6)cultural consciousness

Topics and questions addressed are:

•What is culture? Is human culture different from learned behaviour? And to what extent is it different from animal cognition? How do we use signs to think, act and communicate?
•How do we acquire culture? Which developmental processes (ontogenesis) lie at the heart of our cultural behaviour? How has culture been shaped by evolution (phylogenesis)?
•The human environment is largely a product of invention and design and as such the result of our imagination and creativity. How can we define this creativity, where does it originate from and how does it affect us?
•How do the things we make influence how we think and act? How can we ‘think with things’?
•Language is obviously ubiquitous in culture. But what is language? Do we
need it for communication? How does it affect culture? How is thinking with language different from thinking with artefacts?
•What is theoretical knowledge and why is it important?
•How can we use our cultural abilities to reflect on culture itself?
•What are the effects of the media we use on the way we think?

By addressing these topics and questions through both reading and writing, and in group discussions, students get acquainted with a basic set of tools that will enable
them to approach, and analyse a great variety of cultural phenomena in terms of their constitutive elements. This will give them a firmer grip on cultural phenomena.
Uren per week variabel
Onderwijsvorm Seminar
(discussion of literature and various practical assignments)
Toetsvorm Essay, Written exam
(two essays on a chosen topic and one final exam)
Vaksoort bachelor
Coördinator dr. T. van Dorsten
Docent(en) dr. T. van Dorsten
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
The Shallows Nicholas Carr 9781848872271 ca. €  13,00
Opmerkingen This course counts as either a Humanities course or a Social Sciences course. Can be taken either in block 1 or 2.
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
Academic Core - semester I a verplicht
Culture and Social Change  (Electives Year 1) - semester I a verplicht
Health and Life Sciences  (Electives Year 1) - semester I a verplicht
International Business and Entrepreneurship  (Electives Year 1) - semester I a verplicht
International Relations and International Law - semester I a verplicht
Liberal Arts and Sciences  (Year 1) - semester I a keuzegroep
Liberal Arts and Sciences  (Year 1) - semester I b keuzegroep
Mind Machines and Morality  (Electives) - semester I a verplicht
Mind and Behaviour - semester I a verplicht
Philosophy, Politics and Economics - semester I a verplicht
Smart Technologies  (Electives) - semester I a verplicht
Societies and Cultures in Transition - semester I a verplicht