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Cabrillo College

English 2H

Honors Composition and Critical Thinking


Course Information

African Elephant
Photo courtesy of Susan Alancraig.

Explore cutting-edge research on whales, primates and elephants and the human brain as you think critically about the study of biology and other sciences. Do whales have a language and culture? Can elephants communicate over distances? Who is the most intelligent of all species? Do emotions have a cellular component? What qualities and ethics are required to succeed as a scientist today? This class will explore all these issues and more in an active learning format. In addition to being interdisciplinary, this class is experiential and hands-on; we will attempt to put into practice some of the current findings on the neuroscience of learning. Be prepared to act as a teacher as well as a student: you'll be instructing your classmates about some of our readings and will make presentations on your research. Of course, since this is a writing class, much of your responses to the assigned readings and class activities will be through the written word. You'll be asked to examine new ideas, looking for hidden assumptions, subtexts and inferences in what we read and to debate issues. The class promises provocative readings, hard work and fun!

Class Pages


Major Assignments and Rubrics

Reading Log

Excerpt from Marcy's Baja Travel Journal

Sample Paper #1

Sample Paper #2

Sample Paper #3

Sample Paper #4


Class Articles

(Required reading - see syllabus for due dates.)

African Elephant
Photo courtesy of Susan Alancraig.

"Cetaceans have Complex Brains for Complex Cognition" by Lori Marino et al.

"Thinking like a Chimpanzee" by Jon Cohen

"Are Human Brain Unique?" by Mike Gazzaniga

"Why Study Elephant Cognition?" by Lori Bates et al

"Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Cognitive Ethology as a Unifying Science for Understanding the Subjective, Emotional, Empathetic and Moral Lives of Animals" by Mark Bekoff

"Ethics and Maine Mammals" by Mark Bekoff

"An Elephant Crackup?" by Charles Siebert

"Planet of the Retired Apes" BY Charles Siebert

Baby gray whale rostrum
Photo courtesy of Marcy Alancraig.


Internet Resources

MLA Citation Guide at

Library Internet Resources
Resources and Labs
Counseling, Planning & Transfer Information