Fall 2016

STS 2761 - Governing Everyday Life

Work required

This is a laboratory class, social science-style. This means that we will go back and forth between two activities:

  1. Hands-on observation of real-life phenomena: this will take place both in and outside the classroom in different campus locations; and
  2. Critical analysis supported by selected readings: together, we will reflect on and discuss our observations, using the assigned reading(s).

Every student will collect their observations and analyses in an online laboratory notebook (e-Portfolio). That way, you will build up—session by session—a body of work, which will be assessed at certain points during the semester. There are no additional papers or exams.

Concretely, this breaks down into three work requirements:

1. e-Portfolio

The main focus of your work will be your e-Portfolio. An e-Portfolio is an easy way to bring together text, images, video, and other media in digital form. We will be using the Cornell-supported platform Digication. You will receive an introduction at the beginning of the class.

For each of the nine activities in class, you will be asked to fill in two sections of a portfolio page: “observations” (where you collect empirical materials and notes from the activity) and “analysis” (where you connect aspects of your observations with themes from readings and class discussion).

Maintaining and building your e-Portfolio will require a steady stream of attention and work. As a result, we will NOT have additional paper or exams.

You will receive a grade for your e-Portfolio work so far at three check-in dates during the semester (see Schedule). In evaluating your portfolio, I will use the grading rubric attached.

Towards the end of the semester, we will reserve time to revisit our portfolios and prepare them for final submission, which will include a short section with closing reflections.

2. Class participation

Your participation in class is essential to your success in this course. You will receive full participation credit for attending class.

Missing a class does NOT release you from doing your portfolio work. While it is possible to do either observation or analysis on your own, it will usually be more work and less fun. Should you miss a class, I strongly recommended that you get in touch with a classmate and review not only potential class notes (which are often minimalist) but also notes from one of your co-students.

3. Readings

Given the significant amount of practical work in this class, the reading load is lighter than for a lecture class. Nevertheless, it is absolutely crucial that you do the assigned readings before the sessions for which they are assigned. Especially your analysis will only make sense in connection with the readings.

Course readings vary considerably in discipline and difficulty; be aware that reading length does not greatly correlate with expected reading time. You should bring the readings and your reading notes (!) to class to ground our discussions.

All readings will be available online or handed out in class.

Grade breakdown

Grading is not just a matter of numbers, but also of judgment. I reserve the right to adjust grades by up to half a letter grade based on performance not summed up in this tidy formula.

Academic Integrity

It is absolutely crucial that you observe the Cornell Code of Academic Integrity, which states:

Absolute integrity is expected of every Cornell student in all academic undertakings. ... A Cornell student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic position truthfully reported at all times. In addition, Cornell students have a right to expect academic integrity from each of their peers.

Specifically, using text or ideas from someone else without proper citation is not acceptable in any assignment under any circumstances. You will be asked to take a tutorial on Academic Integrity in the first week of class to familiarize yourself with the rules. This is important because the rules at Cornell might differ from those at other schools and universities. Dealing with cases of plagiarism is by far my least favorite duty – let’s make sure this does not happen.