Policies & Assignments

Course Vision:

Journals3GGL Journals help you reflect each course day.

In God and the Good Life you will:

  1. Learn how to argue convincingly, deeply, responsibly and productively about philosophical questions — in particular moral questions, religious questions, and questions about what makes lives meaningful.
  2. Practice making decisions in light of your own, reasoned-out vision of the good, rather than relying only on externally imposed standards.
  3. Contribute to building a dialogue group community characterized by mutual encouragement, commitment to truth, fun, creativity, and where every member believes that the others are helping them develop their vision of the good life.  
  4. Grow in five intellectual virtues: curiosity, taking responsibility, intellectual courage, humility, and empathetic reasoning.

Learning Objectives:

You will develop (and be evaluated on) four specific skills related to the course vision:

  1. Closely reading philosophical texts and analyzing their key arguments.  By the end of this course, you should be able to identify and comprehend the main principles and arguments in major philosophical texts.  You should be able to reflect on how the philosopher is attempting to persuade their reader and the virtues and/or vices of their methods.  And you should be able to compare these arguments to those of other philosophers, arguments you come across in everyday life, and your own philosophical positions. 

  2. Closely reading major news sources and analyzing their key arguments.  By the end of this course, you should be able to recognize and break down philosophical arguments from the news and other public venues.  You should be able to identify important philosophical assumptions in these arguments, determine what evidence would be relevant to the truth of these assumptions, and be able to identify missing assumptions needed to make the arguments logically convincing. You should be able to reflect on how the writer is attempting to persuade their reader and the virtues and/or vices of their methods.

  3. Contributing to a sustained interpersonal dialogue.  By the end of this course, you should be able to ask strong questions designed to learn about another person’s philosophical viewpoint.  You should be able to actively listen and incorporate personal evidence into your philosophical insights. You should be able to sincerely articulate your views and responsibly identify and address philosophical differences with others.  And you should be able to execute multi-step, action-oriented projects within a diverse ~15 person team.

  4. Writing a persuasive philosophical apology explaining and defending your core beliefs.  By the end of this course, you should have completed a significant, multi-section essay that draws on interesting personal narratives, original philosophical arguments, and textual commentary to defend a coherent philosophical stance on the good life.  You should also be able to anticipate and respond appropriately to objections to your core assumptions.  And you should be able to draft this essay, revise it in response to coaching and edit smaller sections into a well-organized long-form essay.

The GGL Community and Ways to Connect:

GGL exists to promote the good life.  This involves showing concern for each others’ health and protecting vulnerable people in our community.  Everyone in the course is expected to wear a facemask indoors and when unable to socially distance, to stay informed about campus health and safety protocols, and to actively seek out ways to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our classrooms and campus. We also encourage you to reflect during this extraordinary semester on what it means to have a common good we aim at together, as a community.

Part of this common good also involves finding creative and safe ways to cultivate the human connection that is so important to pursuing good lives together.  Your dialogue leaders will have wonderful ideas on this front.  But here are eight different ways you can connect with Prof. Blaschko or Prof. Sullivan this semester:

  1. Make an appointment for a walk around campus or the lakes.
  2. Set up a “facemask-to-facemask” visit to our office hours.
  3. Set up a Zoom-based office hour appointment.
  4. Call or text our mobile phones during designated “GGL phone time”.
  5. Say “Hi” and introduce yourself whenever you bump into us around campus. (Feel free to shout at us from far away too.)
  6. Join us for a 5pm Mass on campus.
  7. Send us an email, ideally sharing something funny or interesting about yourself.  We’ll return the favor!
  8. Suggest a concrete idea for making GGL even better, especially one that fits with one of our main learning goals.  

We’ll share contact and office information in an email the first week of school, including phone numbers, schedules, and relevant sign-up systems.  You are a part of our GGL family now, and we take care of one another. We'll do all we can to help you in your pursuit of the good life this semester, but it's a collective effort and we're counting on you to contribute.


GGL assignments are all opportunities to make progress on course learning goals.  We hope like many students you'll also find these to be rewarding exercises in and of themselves.  Click links for assignment descriptions and grading standards.  

Grading System:

Success in God and the Good Life requires constant attendance, engaged participation, careful reading, and (most importantly) timely, successful completion of all assignments. There is no curve for the course–your grade is determined purely based on the effort you put in and your achievements over the course of the semester.  The teaching team wants you to grow in this class and to score as well as possible on every skill, so please talk to us if you want to strategize about how to reach for higher grades or if you do not understand how you are doing.  Assignment grades will be posted to Sakai as soon as they are available.

Here is a table we will keep updated with deadlines and how different assignments weigh in your final grade.

The table linked above also includes how each assignment fits with the primary learning goals of the course, and the procedure we use for connecting minimum point percentages to letter grades.

Late Work and Absence Policy:

Instructors reserve the right not to accept late work. Instructors will assess requests for extensions on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual circumstances, whether the extension is requested in advance (to the extent possible), and whether students have an official university excuse.

If a student receives an excused absence for a day on which credit is given for an in-class activity or assessment (e.g. a Comprehension Check), the student will be expected to make up that activity as soon as possible. Students should contact their instructor with the official excuse and make arrangements with their instructor and TA as appropriate. Students without an official excuse will not be allowed to make up credit.

Attendance & Remote Attendance Policy

As per university policy, students should take the daily health check each morning. Students who receive a "red pass" on a particular day should attend class (or dialogue) online. Stable Zoom links will be provided for this purpose. If you will be attending remotely for this reason on a particular day, please email your TA (or contact them via Slack) at least an hour before class starts to notify them that this is the case. This will ensure that we're able to make the necessary adjustments to make sure class is remotely available.

Such passes, on their own, do not constitute an excuse (for attendance or for late work). As always, official excuses must be routed through the proper channels (for instance, the University Health Center or University Athletics). To obtain an official excuse, contact the relevant party (your doctor, coach, or the faculty leader in your activity, etc), and ask for an excused absence. If your absence meets the requirements to be excused, they will let you know how to communicate this official absence with us. Please include your TA and your professor on any correspondence related to excused absences. Please note, though: only your professor can grant an extension for graded assignments.

As always, any accommodations requests (including those for prolonged remote engagement due to illness) should be routed through the Sara Bea Center. If you have any questions about any of this, please reach out to a member of the teaching team! We will be happy to connect you with the relevant office or person!

Grading Questions:

Have a question or concern about your grade for an assignment?  First check the directions and rubric for the assignment and identify where you think points were potentially missed.  Meet with your assigned TA to discuss your questions.  If you still have concerns, you can always present a grade appeal to your professor, who will regrade the assignment using the rubric and discuss your questions.  Everyone on the teaching team is committed to helping you achieve the learning objectives.  

Honor Code:

This class follows Notre Dame’s binding Honor Code.  All work you submit must be your own.  Your sources must be properly cited.  In general, you can just reference course readings by their book or article title.  Outside readings should be cited with a works cited or footnote system.  Direct quotations from others must be in quotation marks.  If you have questions about how to attribute your sources, talk to your  TA or professor.

Support for Student Mental Health:

Care and Wellness Consultants provide support and resources to students who are experiencing stressful or difficult situations that may be interfering with academic progress. Through Care and Wellness Consultants, students can be referred to The University Counseling Center (for cost-free and confidential psychological and psychiatric services from licensed professionals), University Health Services (which provides primary care, psychiatric services, case management, and a pharmacy), and The McDonald Center for Student Well Being (for problems with sleep, stress, and substance use). Visit care.nd.edu.