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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Critical Thinking and Health
Module Code NS122
School 38
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Mark Philbin
Semester 2: Mark Philbin
Autumn: Mark Philbin
Module TeachersMarcia Kirwan
Mark Philbin
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

In this module, we explore a variety of phenomena to do with everyday life, society and health as a way of developing a "critical consciousness" oriented to the meanings of things as part of a relational world.

Learning Outcomes

1. Explore the meaning and significance of thinking for oneself and critical consciousness.
2. Examine societal and health phenomena by reference to 'the world'- the relational constellation- within which they are located.
3. Collaborate with others in thinking critically about a range of phenomena to do with everyday life, society and health. These include: asking questions; coming to college; being a 'supporter'; queuing; alcohol use at college; swimming and drowning; stories of illness and disability; death; bodies; human nature; giving blood and organs; and animal agriculture.
4. Develop a reasoned critical position in relation to each of the phenomena explored on the module.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24Lecture and group discussion
Online activity12Watching and examining video materials
Independent Study47Reading
Independent Study42Writing a reflective journal
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

The trial and execution of Socrates
What is important about questioning? What is the relevance of questions to scholarship? How can questions be powerful, helpful, subversive, liberating, dangerous? What is the use of questioning traditions, conventions, received wisdom, common sense, norms? When is it a good idea to refrain from questioning?

"Pyramids of trash"
Our way of life and ecological crisis; how are we to deal with our participation in everyday harms, with our status as "implicated subjects"?; how can we deal with "difficult knowledge"?; thinking with social ecology; how should we think about our responsibility in the world?

"My Bed"
How are we to think of beds? As not worth thinking about? As objects with a long history? As signifiers of self? As linked to sex? As private and detached? As places to be born, to be sick, to die? As places where we dream? As havens? As difficult to leave? As sites for sleep? As sites for treatment? As indicators of health service capacity?

Killing deer in the name of the wild
The case for rewilding; deer as an obstacle; justifications for killing deer; animal rights arguments

Images of disability; stories of disability and their significance

Lizzo at Glastonbury
How is moral judgement relevant to the shape and appearance of our bodies? What are the implications of being positively or negatively judged for our bodies? How far can we go in valuing our own bodies when this is at odds with predominant ideas about attractive bodies? What is the significance of the idea that bodies are projects that can be worked upon and modified?

Why come to college?
What reasons bring people to college? What reasons are there for staying in college until graduation or leaving before graduation? What is the point of a university education? What is a university? What counts as a good experience of college life? What counts as a bad experience? How can someone know if they are doing well at university?

A pint in the U-Bar at 10AM
What is significant about alcohol use in college life? What are the pleasures and benefits of alcohol use? What are the risks? When is it good to be sober? When is it difficult to stay sober? What counts as problem alcohol use? What is the value of thinking systemically about alcohol use?

Supporting Forest Green Rovers
What do we support? What people, what teams, what communities, what countries, what viewpoints, what causes, what practices? How does this relate to our backgrounds, biographies, culture, norms, habits and prior commitments? What do we explicitly support, implicitly support, unwittingly support? How far can we go in changing what we support? What explains such change? What responsibility do we carry for what we support?

An incident at Inchidoney Beach
How can we avoid drowning? How can we help others to avoid drowning? How are these questions relevant to broader health matters? How can "surviving a riptide" be employed as a metaphor for acceptance? When is resistance justified, even when it is against the odds?

"The Purge"
Is there such a thing as human nature? What kinds of claims are made about humans as essentially good, essentially bad or essentially variable? What are the consequences of various ideas about human nature? How are these questions relevant to health and mental health?

Giving blood and organs
What is the value of blood donation? What is the significance of blood? Should people be organ donors? How should organ donation be promoted? Should blood or organs be bought and sold? What prompts people to do good for others? How far should people go in being effective in their altruism? What should guide altruistic decision-making?

The midwife who couldn't say "dead"
What is death anxiety? What limits the potential for openness about death? What are the consequences of death denial? What are the implications of confronting mortality? How is this relevant to health care?

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reflective journalReflections upon the questions that are posed during each week of the semester.90%Every Week
ParticipationMarks for attendance.10%Every Week
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Aysha Akhtar: 2019, Our Symphony with Animals, Pegasus Books, 9781643130705
  • Hannah Arendt: 2003, Responsibility And Judgment, Schocken Books Incorporated, 9780805211627
  • Hannah Arendt: 1963, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Penguin UK, 0143039881
  • Ernest Becker: 1997, The Denial of Death, Simon and Schuster, 0684832402
  • Rutger Bregman: 2020, Humankind, Bloomsbury, 9781408898949
  • Anne Boyer: 2019, The Undying, Penguin UK, 9780241399736
  • Barbara Ehrenreich: 2010, Smile Or Die, Granta Books, 9781847081735
  • Arthur W. Frank: 2013, The Wounded Storyteller, University of Chicago Press, 022600497X
  • Paulo Freire: 1998, Pedagogy of Freedom, Rowman & Littlefield Pub Incorporated, 9780847690466
  • Atul Gawande: 0, Being Mortal, 1846685818
  • William MacAskill: 2016, Doing Good Better, Guardian Books, 9781783350513
  • Matthieu Ricard: 2015, Altruism, Little, Brown, 9780316208246
  • Stanley Milgram: 0, Obedience to Authority, 1905177321
  • Susie Orbach: 2010, Bodies, Profile Books(GB), 1846680298
  • Plato: 2003, The Last Days of Socrates, Penguin Classics, 9780140449280
  • Michael J. Sandel: 2020, The Tyranny of Merit, Penguin UK, 9780141991184
  • Peter Singer: 2015, The Most Good You Can Do, Yale University Press, 9780300219869
  • Sarah Trainer,Alexandra Brewis,Amber Wutich: 2021, Extreme Weight Loss, New York University Press, 9781479857265
  • Winters, E.: 2022, This Is Vegan Propaganda: And other lies the meat industry tells you, Vermilion, London,
  • Philip G. Zimbardo: 2008, The Lucifer Effect, Random House, 1846041031
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
AFUAge Friendly University Programme
BHSBachelor of Science in Health & Society
Date of Last Revision19-SEP-08

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