Early in the semester we’ll work together to develop a community agreement regarding the principles and practices that will shape our interaction with one another: values guiding our interactions, protocols for managing live discussions and other interactions to ensure equitable representation, protocols for using Zoom (here’s a sample set of expectations) and other platforms. I’ll post this agreement on our class site for continual reference and, if necessary, revision.
INCLUSION & RESPECT
The following is modified from The New School’s Safe Zone declaration: We in this class are dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for all members of the university community inclusive of race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, language, gender and gender expression, sexuality, religious and political beliefs, age, and ability. We’ll aim to celebrate our diversity and to respectfully negotiate differences in experience, understanding, and expression. We will stand against all forms of discrimination and oppression, whether directed against individuals or groups. We will also make an effort to respect one another’s individuality in our forms of address, which includes learning one another’s names and pronouns.
If you experience anything in the classroom that undermines these values – or if there is anything I can do to better cultivate inclusivity and respect – please feel free to let me know. Likewise, if you are facing personal challenges inside or outside the classroom that are impacting your class performance, I’m happy to speak with you about strategies of accommodation, and to help you find the appropriate support resources at the university.
SUBMITTING WORK VIA GOOGLE DRIVE
You’ll occasionally be asked to submit your work via Google Drive. Because I prefer to insert margin comments and propose revisions directly in/on your text, I need to work with an editable document (e.g., not a pdf). For this reason, I ask that you please either (1) create your documents in Google Drive; or (2) upload documents in .doc format, which I can then download and annotate using “track changes,” and return to you via email. You can share your material with me by clicking on the “Share” button in the upper-right corner of Google Drive/Docs, inserting my email address, then clicking on the little pencil icon and choosing “can edit.”
I’ll probably propose some line edits and add some margin comments to your Doc. I don’t expect you to respond to my recommendations and queries, but I do hope you’ll at least consider them! If, however, you would like to continue the dialogue in the comments section by responding and requesting additional feedback from me, you’ll need to alert me via email because I can’t continually monitor for new activity across all students’ documents 😉
POSTING WORK ONLINE
You’ll occasionally be asked to share your work online. If you’re not comfortable posting your work, please don’t hesitate to talk to me.
Our deadlines aren’t arbitrary. They’re established to help keep you on track with your work, to ensure that our collaborative work progresses smoothly, and to give me sufficient time to review your work. Assignment deadlines are clearly noted on the syllabus. In all cases, you are made aware of these deadlines weeks in advance, and in some cases you even choose your own assignment deadlines, which allows you to do your work when it suits your schedule. I am also more than happy to work with you, in advance of assignment deadlines, to develop your projects.
What’s more, segments of our class involve collaborative work, for which we need to make parallel progress on our individual contributions. Deadlines help to ensure our accountability to one another.
Finally, I take your work seriously, I read it closely, and I’m known for providing substantial, thorough, constructive feedback. It takes me about an hour to review each student project. I set aside big blocks of time for assignment review immediately after each deadline, and pretty much every day of the week I’m committed to reviewing some batch of student work! Missing deadlines means you miss your “window of opportunity” for review and feedback, which is a big part of your learning experience. Late work = no comments. Given the extraordinary demands of this pandemic era, late work will not be penalized, but it will not benefit from feedback from your classmates or me.
A student who has not submitted all assigned work by the end of the semester does not receive an “Incomplete” by default. “Incompletes” are assigned only in extreme circumstances, and require that the student consult with me well before the end of the semester and sign a contract obligating them to complete all outstanding work by a date that we agree upon. Again, late work will not receive feedback.
CHANGES TO THE SYLLABUS
I make every effort to map out the entire semester before the semester begins, so we both know what we’re in for. Yet we might need to make a few small alterations to our schedule: we might host a guest who’s passing through town, I might decide to cut a couple of our readings or substitute new material that’s published over the course of the semester, etc. Any changes will be noted, with plenty of advance notice, on our class website, which will always be the most accurate, up-to-date “control center” for our class; this doc syllabus is really just an administrative document. And any revisions will only maintain or decrease, never increase, your workload.
ACADEMIC HONESTY AND INTELLECTUAL GENEROSITY
Citing our sources and giving credit where it’s due are ethical, political practices. As Sarah Ahmed and Kishonna Gray acknowledge, citations are a means of determining “who appears,” who counts, whose work gets validated. Our citational choices have the power to build communities, as well as to dismantle and build and reform canons and disciplines. Please familiarize yourself with the University’s academic honesty policy, and keep in mind that citation is more than just a bureaucratic obligation. If you have any questions regarding proper citation of sources or other academic integrity matters, please ask me or consult the University Learning Center. Plagiarism and cheating of any form do carry consequences.