Critical Examination of Information and Critical Thinking

lfial1430  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Critical Examination of Information and Critical Thinking
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
45.0 h + 10.0 h
Leclercq Jean; Van Ypersele Laurence;
Main themes
The procedure comes straight from philosophy, in that it is an argumentative practice, and from historical criticism, according to their respective and common rules, in a perspective which is both history and language driven.   
To achieve the objectives listed above, we will examine the way in which a line of argument is constructed, the kind of language support and techniques employed, and the possible uses that can be made of it.  
We will deal with the most basic concepts in rhetoric, logic and argumentation, using a wide range of teaching aids, from the oldest to digital. We will also examine the different stages of historical criticism: 
external and internal criticism,  comparison of documents and drawing conclusions on the issues of  causality and meaning. 
This course aims to support and enhance training for citizenship and social responsibility. It is also designed to provide students with the tools to develop verification and validation skills in relation to the relevance of everyday information.  

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

This teaching unit will enable students to acquire skills in the field of argumentation and the criticism of information, to ensure the validity and the accuracy of the specific corpus on which students in humanities are working, to aim for the greatest possible academic objectivity.    
Gaining basic skills in the field of historical criticism is a vital tool for research in humanities, to validate the corpus being worked on, to set out an issue and to strive for academic objectivity.  
Students will thus be able to analyse critically a piece of discourse by looking at the ideas used, the facts related, the causes and consequences established, the assessment of the values put forward, in short all the strategies deployed to support or undermine the development of a thesis.   
Armed with these tools, by the end of the course, students will also be able to formulate and justify a critical stance towards all the different kinds of discourse in everyday life.  

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
The course is made up of formal lectures (30 hours) and 10 hours of practical exercises on collections of texts. 
The formal lectures will introduce the different stages of historical criticism. They will underline the importance of the issue and documentary research in carrying out a solid piece of academic research. Finally, there will be a review of the different kinds of sources, including digital ones, their contribution to knowledge of the past and their limitations. There will then be a systematic examination of the stages of external criticism, internal criticism and the comparison of witness accounts. Finally, we will draw a conclusion on the issues of causality and meaning. 
We will also introduce different kinds of styles of argument, particularly hypothetical and  syllogistic, to understand why and how we reason. We will study various techniques such as definition, the division of a concept, empirical research on factors, the lines of argument to establish or refute a thesis, as a way of understanding how specific techniques can construct thinking. 
Evaluation methods
Assessment is by means of a written examination, the first part of which relates to the adoption of theoretical frameworks and the second to the use of these frameworks to analyse documents and discourse which students have not encountered in the course. 
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Minor in History

Minor in Medieval Studies

Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures: German, Dutch and English

Bachelor in Ancient Languages and Literatures : Classics

Bachelor in Ancient and Modern Languages and Literatures

Master [120] in Sciences of Religions

Bachelor in French and Romance Languages and Literatures : General

Bachelor in History of Art and Archaeology : General

Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Bachelor in Ancient Languages and Literatures: Oriental Studies

Bachelor in Philosophy

Master [120] in Performing Arts

Bachelor in History

Bachelor in History of Art and Archaeology : Musicology