FTS-100: Money (Fall 2004)

In this course we will open an investigation into all aspects of money. We'll draw from diverse fields such as politics, economics, mathematics, psychology, sociology, philosophy and art, as we investigate why money has value, and how it influences society. Along the way, we'll question why the Secret Service regularly confiscates works drawn by artist J.S.G. Boggs without bringing legal charges; why Jefferson opposed adopting a single currency; why you can make many good wagers and yet almost always lose money; and when it is ethical to estimate the monetary value of a human life.

Each first term seminar serves as an introduction to a liberal arts college environment. We'll strive to develop your ability to think analytically and critically, and your ability to communicate your thoughts through writing and speaking with greater quality and clarity.

This course satisfies one of your three writing (``WRIT'') course requirements. It also satisfies one of your four required courses in the area named Meaning and Value, the Use of Language, and the Historical Process (``HUMAN'').

Reaching me

All office, phone and schedule information will be maintained in my web page, http://www.gustavus.edu/~wolfe. If my office door is open you are welcome; if I'm busy, we'll set up an appointment. Email and phone calls work, too.

All course handouts, as well as some supplementary materials, will be available through my web page. A link to this course is in my homepage http://www.gustavus.edu/~wolfe/.

Primary FTS Goals

Each FTS strives to develop critical thinking skills. You will be challenged to read actively, to question what you read, and to express your thoughts orally and in writing. Your critical thinking skills will be measured through class discussion, written essays and your ability to apply a few mathematical ideas.

Each FTS provides you with opportunities to improve your writing skills. You will write three to four essays and will receive feedback on each. Two of the essays will go through a revision process. Note that revision literally means to see again. It is enough simply to correct spelling mistakes and make local corrections when you revise, but you are challenged to convey your ideas in a new, clearer and more engaging way.

FTS is structured to encourage you to develop your speaking skills. This is done primarily through participation in class discussion. You will also give one brief PowerPoint presentation on a topic related to the course. In each class, you should feel free to express your own views. Don't be afraid to disagree with others, but always do so respectfully. By the end of the course, you should be able to comfortably participate in class discussions and be able to do so with clarity and depth. In this course, the quality of your class discussion will not impact your grade heavily provided you give it the old college try.

Each FTS will also address questions of values. Each individual approaches any activity with his or her own set of ethical, social and aesthetic values. While monetary value is central to the course, we'll investigate how money influences societal values and how societies without currencies differ in their social values.

As your first term seminar instructor, I have the responsibility of advising you in your first year at Gustavus. Often, I will take initiative in bringing up issues (academic and non-academic) which all students might face as they become accustomed to the Gustavus community. I also expect that you will take initiative in bringing up any issues or challenges you face as you get to know your way around Gustavus.


There are four required texts for the course: The Everyday Writer's ease of use and organization has led us to require its use by all Gustavus students.


Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised by the assignments. However, papers and assignments should be individual, original work unless otherwise specified. Feel free, however, to ask a fellow student to proofread and give you feedback on your work.

For any assignment, you should cite any help you receive, whether it be from a reference or a classmate. (You need not cite my help, nor discussions from class.)

Any cheating may lead to failure in the course and notification of the Dean. This includes copying anyone else's work, deliberately facilitating copying and failing to give credit for information you received from another person or outside reference.

Any grade disputes should be lodged before the scheduled time for the final exam. I will fix obvious grading errors promptly (and will thank you for pointing them out). For students especially fond of debate, I reserve the right to regrade the work.

Gustavus's academic honesty policy is stated on page 31 of the Academic Bulletin. The following code will be written in full and signed on every examination and graded paper:

On my honor, I pledge that I have not given, received, nor tolerated others' use of unauthorized aid in completing this work.

Writing assignments and Grading

You will be asked to write about three to four short essays, varying in length from about 2 to 8 pages. (A typical page consists of 250 to 300 words.) All papers should be typed. You should choose a line spacing about halfway between single and double-spaced; this should provide enough room for editing marks between lines. Be sure your essays are always stapled together and that your name is always on them. Although these essays will be graded very critically, your final grade will be higher than the average of the individual grades as explained below.

You are at risk of failing if you:

  1. miss more than 3 class days,
  2. do not actively participate in class activities, or
  3. fail to submit a required assignment.

All other students will be graded based on:

Your paper grades will be converted to numeric grades according to the table on the left. Your final course grade will be the weighted average of your assignment grades, converted to a letter grade according to the table on the right.

paper grade to
numeric grade
    numeric average
to course grade
A 99 93-100A
AB 95 90-93A-
B 90 87-90B+
BC 85 83-87B
C 80 80-83B-
CD 75 77-80C+
D 70 73-77C
F 50 70-73C-

I reserve the right to subjectively adjust your final grade (if so, probably upward). Please see me if you have any questions about how you stand.

Late policy

Essay assignments are due at the start of class on the due date. Please staple (do not fold or paper clip) your homework together. One paper (or draft) will be accepted up to 72 hours late without penalty; other late papers will be heavily penalized. When submitting an assignment late, be sure to write the date and time of submission on your assignment. This late policy is intended to accommodate illness or conflict. Please do not ask for additional exceptions unless your situation is unusual. In any case, all assignments must be submitted by the last day of classes.

Additional course requirements

The following additional course requirements were not in the original syllabus. During the semester, you should attend:

It has also become clear as the course has progressed that we are not all on the same wavelength about what is meant by class participation. Class participation is not limited to speaking up in class discussions. It includes:

This assignment is worth 7.5% of your final grade, and your "Other assigned essays" are now worth 22.5% (rather than 30% as originally stated.)