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Primary Texts Certificate

Prof. Laurie M. Johnson
Director, Primary Texts Certificate
c/o Department of Political Science
214 Calvin Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506

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lauriej@k-state.edu

Primary Texts Capstone Paper Suggested Essay Topics

1. Why did you choose your major? What contribution to society can you make through pursuing a career in this field? Explore some ethical, moral or other problems this field and its professionals face now and in the future. How would you suggest trying to solve these problems?

2. Discuss some of the ways in which human beings can treat others as less than human? Does this enduring feature of our experience have to do with human nature itself? If not, what is its cause? What if anything can be done to make the situation better?

3. What is love? Can the experience of love be broken down into different types? Is love as we experience it today a social construct or a human reality?

4. Does knowledge truly progress and become more complete across time? If so, is it only scientific knowledge which is truly cumulative and progressive or has other knowledge (say, political or moral) progressed as well?

5. How should we view the fact that there are people in the world who are capable of mass murder (Timothy McVeigh, terrorists)? What should our approach be to eliminating the threat of violence they pose?

6. What should a university education be, in your estimation? Is part of that education "extracurricular?" What should be gained by the student upon graduation? What is the responsibility, if any, of the graduating student toward the larger society into which he or she is entering?

7. Does learning about other ways of thinking and living in a variety of cultures and times produce a more tolerant outlook in learners? What are some benefits to such exposure and are there any drawbacks?

8. What makes a person great? Provide several examples of people you think are great and explain why you classify them as such. Settle on a definition of greatness. Do we need great people now?

9. Why and/or how do we trust what people write in books? What makes you trust and accept the influence of a book in your thought process or outlook? What happens when a book conflicts with an idea you already hold to be true?

10. The history of books is replete with lies, errors, misconceptions, and various cruelties of the heart and mind. How should we respond to those instances? It is positive and/or negative when such ideas are lost to obscurity? How about if they are canonical?

11. What is a scientific truth and how does it differ from a moral, ideological truth. Which is more important? How closely are the two related?