INTD 105: Freshman Writing Seminar


Spring 2008: Tues & Thurs 11:20am-12:35pm

Welles 26


Paul A. Scipione, Ph.D.

Jones School of Business


Affluence in America: Too Much or Too Little?



What's more quintessential than the American Dream? Study hard and work even harder. Save and invest. Climb both occupational and social ladders. Then indulge in some conspicuous consumption to signal our success to others. Since the 1950s, this pursuit has really worked. Some would say too well. Nearly 10 million American families are millionaires. Now you have to be a deca-millionaire to feel really successful. Examples abound of widespread affluence in America. Although Americans are less than 5% of the world's population, we represent 30+% of world GDP and even more of the world's garbage and energy use. Is the American Dream in need of redefinition? Have "wants" somehow morphed into "needs?" And amidst such affluence, how do we explain pockets of poverty that still exist after decades of social engineering? We will use Robert FrankĄ¯s Richistan and Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed in America, as well as shared nuggets discovered in the library, government data, even personal anecdotes, to develop effective written and verbal positions on affluence (and poverty) in America.


Contact & Advisement

Dr. Scipione's Office: 117A South Hall

Office Hours: Tues & Thurs. 1:30-3:00pm or by appointment

585-245-5088 (Direct); 585-245-5367 (Secretary); 585-245-5467 (fax)

Faculty Webpage:


Objectives of the Course

You are all embarking on a life-changing experience -- getting an undergraduate education at SUNY Geneseo. Regardless of your major, the Geneseo faculty believes that you will benefit throughout life from a liberal arts perspective. Essential components of a liberal arts education are being able to: (a) search for relevant information; (b) read critically; (c) think clearly; and (d) write effectively. That is why you are taking INTD105 in your first year at Geneseo. To these basic competencies I have added another: the ability to conduct data-based research in order to test hypotheses. I also provide you with a lot of practical advice on how to live at the top end of the socio-economic food chain. Consider this a course in financial literacy. Hey, it's great to be a millionaire through your own efforts!


Course Textbook

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed (On Not Getting By in America). New York: Metro/Owl (Henry Holt), 2002, ISBN 0-8050-6389-7, Softcover.


Frank, Robert. Richistan. New York: Crown (Random House), 2007,

ISBN 978-0-307-33926-3, Hardcover.


Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004, 4th edition, ISBN 0-312-40684-3, Softcover.


Course Content and Procedures

We have just 15 weeks (30 classes) to accomplish all of our important objectives. So you should try to attend every class. Try to read ahead in the textbooks so that you can contribute to class discussion. No cheating or plagiarism will be tolerated.


SUNY Geneseo requires that all Intd105 students, regardless of their section's topic, to write at least six (6) papers, totaling 6,000 or more words. Using 12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing and the default margins of MS Word, that translates into 20 to 24 pages. For one assignment (Census data) you will be working in teams, but everything else will be on an individual basis. All of us who teach Intd105 use a common rubric to grade student papers and other course work. We are looking for: (1) the ability to conduct research via libraries and the Internet; (2) understanding and completing reading assignments; (3) demonstrating critical thinking skills; (4) accurately describing the statements and thoughts of others; (5) fully and accurately attributing the intellectual property of others -- footnotes and endnotes; (6) clarity in student writing; (7) using proper English grammar; (8) succinctness of student writing; (9) strength, originality and logic of the argument(s) presented in student papers; (10) improvements made during the editing and revision process; and (11) effective use of word processing software (MS Word) and spreadsheet (MS Excel) software.


In this course there will be three types of writing assignments: (1) papers in which you read and then react to the work of others; (2) papers in which you express your own opinions and suggestions; and (3) papers based on the interpretation and analysis of data. During the semester I will assign six papers (see schedule). Short papers should be 2-3 pages; longer papers should be 5-6 pages. If you are sending a paper attached to an e-mail, please make sure to save/send your paper in .doc (not .docx) format.


Course Grading

Maybe you have checked out the scuttlebutt from my former SUNYG and MSU students on the website and rejoiced that I tend to be a high grader. Generally that's true, but only for students who work their ass off in my class and do it with enthusiasm. It's OK to make some mistakes along the way -- that's part of the learning process. I always try to be positive and supportive. But students with an "attitude" and those who stick it to their teammates better watch out.