Welcome Letter/Sample Syllabus Phil 206

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Philosophy 206 / Nine Weeks / Spring (30229) and Fall (70248)

Welcome Online Learners!

Welcome to Distance Education at Cuesta College! My name is Dr. Cheryl Genet and I am the instructor for the upcoming online version of Introduction to Philosophy (Phil 206). In this course we will take a fascinating journey together that will deepen our appreciation of the development of the Western mind, the Western worldview, of which most of you are the beneficiaries. We will trace important philosophical threads from the early natural philosophers, through Classical Greek thought, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Rise of Science, and the development of the modern mind, to our current global times.  I look forward to getting to know each of you who enroll (are enrolled) and assisting you in achieving the learning outcomes below.

This course compresses 18 weeks of a regular semester into 8-9 weeks (late term). As per requirements for an 8-9 week class it still covers most of the 18 weeks of material—I have modified it only slightly. Be prepared. Please see Sample Syllabus below.

PHIL 206 Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete a course in Philosophy at Cuesta College will have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Interpret primary source texts in philosophy
  • Express, explain, and defend philosophical ideas in writing and/or verbally
  • Distinguish between the basic concerns and questions at issue in the three major branches of Western philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics
  • Understand how western philosophy has changed and developed over the course of history
  • Identify, explain, and evaluate philosophical theories and arguments


  • It is preferred that if you have a question or concern or other communication that you email me at cheryl_genet@cuesta.edu I will answer your email as soon as possible, but at the minimum within 24 hours, Monday-Saturday.
  • If you need to call me and speak personally, do not hesitate. You can reach me at 805-438-4088. 

Basic Course Information

This philosophy course is an exploration of the development of the Western worldview, including the development of science and the impact of science, philosophy, and theology upon one another.

The required textbook is:                                                                      

Gaarder, Jostein.  1994.  Sophie’s World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy. Trans.by Paulette Møller.        New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

WHAT TO EXPECT: This course is fully online—there are no meetings—nevertheless it has regular assignments, quizzes, and forum posts with specific weekly due dates. It also requires watching one or two videos per week (3 minutes to 30 minutes), necessitating internet usage time. If you are not prepared to stay on top of assignments throughout each week, this may not be the best class for you.

There are 4 synchronous online tests that must be taken between 7:00 and 10:00 pm on 2 specified Monday nights. If you have any problem with this please let me know at the beginning of class. We can make arrangements.  The four tests together comprise your “final”)

This course is taught on Canvas, Cuesta's Course Management System. Here you can find Instructions on how to access Canvas and find your classes Links to an external site. 

Once you access the course you should print out a copy of the syllabus and class schedule, which you will find on the Canvas website Home Page for this class, and have it available hard copy (or on your smart device) to assist you in assignment planning.

Important Considerations

While Distance Education courses have many benefits in allowing for flexible schedules and a rewarding learning experience, there are a number of things you should know about this course right from the start:

  1. This course is designed for those who are computer literate. If you are not both confident and comfortable working with e-mail, word processing, and the Internet, as well as downloading and attaching files, then the online version of PHIL 206 is not for you; I recommend taking the course in the traditional classroom setting instead.
  1. This course requires a great deal of self-motivation. It is the learner’s responsibility to keep on top of the reading assignments, to log on to the course website regularly, and to submit assignments  and take quizzes by their due date, and access email regularly for instructor communications.  Thus, I recommend this course only to those who are both well-organized and self-disciplined.
  1. An online course requires roughly the same number of hours and participation as a face-to-face class. You should expect to invest 48 hours of various types of learning and participation for each unit of credit. This is a 3 unit course for the equivalent of 18 weeks (of instruction) which works out to 144 hours. That seems like a lot of hours so break that down by week and it comes to 17 hours per week. Based on this a good rule of thumb, to make sure you have adequate time, would be to set aside at least this many hours per week.
  1. You may want to read the Are You Ready for an Online Class?Links to an external site. which can be found on the Canvas website for this class, to help you evaluate your success in online learning.  It also contains many ideas on how to achieve that success.

Technology Requirements

You will need to have a Cuesta e-mail account and access to the World Wide Web.

Please see below for more detailed computer and internet specs.

Computer Requirements

Computer and technical requirements Links to an external site.

Accessing Canvas/Course Website

All of the information you will need to access this course on Canvas, learn how to navigate Canvas, and access assistance if you are having problems, can be found on the Cuesta website Distance Education page Links to an external site.

DSPS Assistance

I am happy to work closely with you and the DSPS to make this as rich a learning experience as possible for all!

Disable Students and Program Services Links to an external site.

College and Course Policies

College and Course Policies Links to an external site.

Cuesta waitlist procedure and instructions Links to an external site.

Sample Syllabus

Class and Instructor Information

  • Instructor  Dr. Cheryl Genet
  • Student Assistance in my Virtual Office by Appointment
  • Phone  805-438-4088
  • E-mail cheryl_genet@cuesta.edu 

I want you to succeed in this class

The demands of an online class can be significant, not to mention managing school, work, family, and other commitments. I have provided you with a week of orientation to help you settle in. Please take full advantage by reading all instructions, watching videos, taking practice quizzes, and introducing yourself to me and your classmates. Some of you will have unexpected struggles enter your lives during the semester, but I want you to know I am here to help you succeed. Please feel free to set up a phone or Zoom meeting with me anytime.

Learning Outcomes

Our objective in this course is threefold. First, we will seek to acquire an understanding of, and an appreciation for, philosophy as a discipline, with particular emphasis given to the philosophical subfields of metaphysics, epistemology, ontology, and ethics. Second, we will attempt to gain a sense of how Western philosophy has developed and changed through the ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods. Third, we will develop critical thinking skills by evaluating philosophical arguments through group discussions and writing assignments.


The Orientation Video and notes are mandatory (see Class Schedule for due date). You may be dropped from the course if you do not participate. There are also 4 Synchronous Tests (online). In addition, timely participation in all activities is critical for a good or even passing grade. In general, each week’s work must be completed in order, on time, and generally cannot be made up after the end of the Unit.


There are four types of reading assignments: Unit Introductions, Text reading assignments, some Special Focus and Context Enrichment assignments. Students are expected complete the required reading assignments for each week, take the reading quiz, and complete and submit the unit Reading Worksheet (RW).


To aid you in assessing your own comprehension and to assure compliance with reading requirements, reading quizzes will be given covering each unit’s reading assignments. These quizzes will be brief and objective (true/false, multiple choice). There will also be a short quiz after each Special Focus assignment. Quizzes must be taken in the unit they are assigned.

Discussion Session

There will be a discussion session for each Unit. You must complete the assigned Reading Worksheet (RW) and complete the Special Focus assignment before you enter your Discussion Forum (DF). Be sure to follow instructions for DF participation carefully.  Participation in the DF’s is critical to your grade!


There will be four Synchronous Tests that will cover the previous three to five Learning Units, including glossary terms. In this 9 week course these are taken 2 at a time. Collectively, these four tests comprise the equivalent of a final exam. There is no comprehensive final at the end of the semester.

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