As we mentioned yesterday, syllabi are part contract which means that they have to reflect the policies of the university and department you teach for. The department you’re teaching for may have an attendance policy you’re required to use in your syllabi but all of the policy sections you get to create for yourself are your first opportunity to set the tone for the type of classroom community you want to create.

For your perusal I’ve included several components which I keep in all of my syllabi. If you like them, feel free to copy and paste into your own syllabi and edit them to fit. If you hate them write out why you hate them and you will probably have a solid start towards creating these components in your own syllabi.  Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the portable assignments I use in every class I teach with tips on how to implement them. 

Course Description [generic part]:

This course aims to develop two sets of skills. The first set of skills are academic in nature and include critical thinking, argumentation, and writing. The second set of skills are the core of a liberal arts education. These skills deal with how to be a better person in the world: how to hold an idea and assess its merit without accepting it as true or condemning it as false, how to challenge your deeply held beliefs, and how to see issues from multiple sides.

Recurring Questions:

Who do I see represented? Who or what do I not see? Why do I see certain people, objects and groups and not others? What does that mean for the polis? What does that mean for me and my life?

Attendance and Participation

Your attendance is necessary for the success of this class! Your insights, informed opinions, questions, humor, and experience are vital components of a successful learning environment. Be advised that attendance requires that you be mentally, not just physically, present in the classroom. You are expected to complete readings prior to the assigned class and come to class with questions and discussion points. On days that assignments are due they will be due at the beginning of class. If you are ill or otherwise unable to make it to class your assignment is still due at the beginning of class. I recommend sending the assignment with a friend or, if that is not possible, emailing it to me by the start of class.

In addition to being prepared, students are expected not to bring distractions into the classroom. Distractions include but are not limited to: laptops, phones, newspapers, work for other courses, knitting, and crosswords. If you are engaging with these or other materials in a way that limits your involvement in class or distracts your peers I reserve the right to ask you to leave class.


 Politics/Women’s Studies/History is more than an intellectual exercise. Politics/Women’s Studies/History is the way that people seek to live together in communities. Policy/Women’s Rights/History is not an abstraction but a material representation of communal values. While we will certainly incorporate [disciplinary] theory and practice into this course that is not the primary aim of our time together. Our first goal is to measure ideas. This class is about tackling difficult questions about identity and beliefs and how we live together on this campus and in our communities. If this class is successful then you will question deeply held beliefs and you will learn to argue the benefits of viewpoints you vehemently disagree with this. This process can and should be difficult and at times uncomfortable. To be productively uncomfortable we must first know that we can be vulnerable. Therefore, at all times, every member of this class is expected to be respectful of the viewpoints, opinions, experiences and questions that are shared in this classroom. Anyone exhibiting disrespectful behavior will be asked to leave the classroom and will forfeit any points for QCQ cards or in-class activities that day. I reserve the right to pursue further disciplinary action in accordance with the College of Liberal Arts’ classroom civility statement listed below.

Syllabus Alterations Policy

In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar or other circumstances beyond the instructor’s control. Relevant changes to this course will be posted onto the course website or can be obtained by contacting the instructors or TAs via email or phone. You are expected to read your email on a frequent basis.

This is a working syllabus. As such, I retain the right to change it at any time throughout the semester. You will be notified, as soon as possible, of any changes.

If you have a writing based class you’re welcome to use this description of C, B, and A level writing:

Assignments and Grading

The goal of all assignments in this class is to promote learning. For our purposes, learning will be defined as the process whereby information you incorporate information you did not have before into your world view.

“C” level work will briefly tell me what connections you perceive between individual elements of your project to individual course materials. “B” level work will tell me about what connections you see between course materials and how they connect to your project. At this level I expect to see you making an effort to think about your project and the class as whole entities (rather than breaking each down into its separate components) and thinking about how these entities connect. “A” level work will tell me about what connections you see between course materials, how they connect to your class and why these connections are valuable. At this level I expect to see you thinking about the class and your project as one thing with your project filling a gap in the existing course syllabus and seamlessly integrated into the existing course structure.

Academic Dishonesty

 Plagiarism, simply defined, is the attempt to pass off another’s work as your own. Plagiarism takes many forms: failure to cite appropriately, copying another’s work exactly or almost exactly, or presenting another person or group’s ideas as your original thoughts. Any and all instances of plagiarism in this class will be punished by an automatic “F” for the course. They will also be reported to the Dean of Students Office.

Don’t risk it! If you’re not sure if it is plagiarism don’t guess! Go to the writing center or make use of the OWL here,

If you are still confused then ask me at least 24 hours before the assignment is due.

Finally, NEVER plagiarize because you are in a rush to get an assignment done. An “F” on one assignment is much, much better for your grade in this class and your career as a whole then failing the course because of turning in plagiarized work.


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