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Synthesis Program

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Program Highlights

The Synthesis Program utilizes a robust and distinctive approach to students' learning and emphasizes the importance of confronting large-scale, global issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. The three-course sequence encompasses four curricular themes that connect with UC San Diego Competencies:

  • Anti-racist and inclusive pedagogies
  • Collaborative problem-solving
  • Communication processes
  • Critical thinking and reflective practice

Course Descriptions

Synthesis 1 - Offered Winter and Spring

Synthesis 1 asks students to critically examine through an interdisciplinary and antiracist lens how we communicate about the climate crisis in order to address the question of how we get people to respond and take action. Through a variety of assignments and activities, students develop an awareness of both the message of a text and how the author crafted that message. They learn how to assess the purpose, audience, and context of different rhetorical situations.

 

Synthesis 2 - Offered Fall, Winter, & Summer

Synthesis 2 builds upon the skills developed in Synthesis 1. In the first half of the quarter, students learn the links between climate change and racial justice. Using an antiracist framework, students work in a small group to research an aspect of the climate crisis. In the second half of the quarter, students are introduced to project design and learn how to draft a proposal. Students learn how to determine the scope of a project based on such criteria as time, money, and potential impact.

Synthesis 100 - Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, & Summer

SYN 100 is a project-based course that builds upon foundational skills by taking a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to complex global problems. Each section focuses on a different theme, challenge, or question related to the climate crisis. Despite the different class topics, all students will learn by designing and executing a team project that addresses their section’s theme. Take a look at the offerings for SYN 100 here.

Synthesis 150 - Offered Fall, Winter, & Spring

SYN 150 is recommended for Seventh College transfer students in preparation for SYN 100. Students critically examine, through an interdisciplinary and antiracist lens, key issues impacting our changing planet.

SYN150 will be offered Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters after Fall 2023.

SYN 199 - Starting Academic Year 23-24

Synthesis independent study designated for Seventh College students who wish to carry out a project they began in previous Synthesis Program courses. 

SYN 199 will be offered every quarter.

Learning Goals

Through the activities and assignments of the Synthesis Program, students will develop:

Critical Reading and Listening Processes

  • Developing awareness of not only what texts say, but how they are crafted to deliver a message
  • Learning how to put authors in conversation with each other
  • Learning the concept of rhetorical listening and apply and utilize this concept to class discussions
  • Engaging in antiracist practices in pedagogy and education, such as centering the voices and knowledge of people of color and actively challenging racism within climate crisis policies, discourses, and responses
  • Learning about the standards of language that exist within different discourse communities and question the function of these standards

Problem-Solving

  • Discussing different proposed solutions for the climate crisis and intersectional issues
  • Developing the habit of mind of curiosity through agency and problem solving 
  • Understanding the ways in which institutional racism, climate crisis, and other global issues are interrelated 
  • Recognizing perspectives on a changing planet stem from positionality in the world (geographically, racially, etc.)

Rhetorical Knowledge

  • Understanding argument and its function and purpose 
  • Assessing purpose, audience and context (local vs. global) for different rhetorical situations
  • Recognizing and evaluating underlying assumptions and chains of reasoning that motivate arguments

Teamwork and Collaboration Experiences

  • Learning how to give and act on productive feedback to works in progress
  • Discussing the advantages and challenges of teamwork
  • Working together on a project that addresses a challenge related to a changing planet

Writing Processes

  • Learning about writing as an iterative process, as a series of phases or stages
  • Learning a wide variety of strategies, for beginning, drafting, organizing, revising and editing compositions
  • Being introduced to the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes
  • Developing a reflective practice 
  • Learning that failure  is part of any process and not the end

Collaborative Grading

Collaborative Grading is utilized across all Synthesis courses. With each course, students  will contract at the beginning of the quarter for the labor and grade they commit to in relation to the course projects and activities. This approach to grading lifts up the importance  of students' process over product. Students are empowered to develop their critical approaches to reading, writing, and thinking rather than earning their desired grade.

Students report that Collaborative Grading:

  • Increases interest in learning for themselves
  • Increases creativity and willingness to take risks
  • Invites deeper exploration of the course material
  • Provides a different source of motivation than traditional grades
  • Relieves anxiety and stress 
  • Shifts the focus from grades to feedback

Additional Questions?

Please review the Synthesis Program section on Seventh College's FAQ page. For questions or concerns not addressed, contact synthesis@ucsd.edu.

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