488K Assignments: Senior Seminar

First of all, FUN MATTERS! Let’s work together to make sure that happens, no matter what!

All assignments are intended to give you familiarity with some important, sometimes professional, styles of creating and sharing activist-scholarly research. Please notice how much of our work together will be collective. This means that your individual ability to meet deadlines will collectively affect everyone in the class. So make attention to this a top priority, and if you find yourself needing help organizing yourself and planning for these kinds of things, please come to Katie asap to discuss and get help. If for any reason you find yourself falling behind (any reason, good or bad!) please try to be mindful as this begins to happen and come to Katie immediately. Working collectively is complex, but it can be supportive, and FUN too!

To create our own community of thinkers, makers, doers, of scholars and activists, we want to all get to know each other and work with each other. Ours here is an active and ambitious learning community visioning and revisioning together. I want to get to know each of you personally! I want to know how the class is working for you, what touches and excites you, how your projects are going.

Let me know in office hours or after class when you need help, or any special accommodations, the sooner the better. Folks with disabilities or who need time from class to observe religious holidays, please contact Katie ASAP to make any arrangements necessary. If you are experiencing difficulties in keeping up with the academic demands of this or any other course, you can also contact the Learning Assistance Service, 2202 Shoemaker Building, 301-314-7693. They have educational counselors who can help with time management, reading, math learning skills, note-taking and exam preparation skills. All their services are free to UMD students.

All during the semester you will be working on a senior project. At four points in the semester you will be either prototyping what is coming, sharing your process, showing off what you've done, or reflecting on what happened. Each part will be 1/4th of your grade, so just doing the project will not get you a full grade, and sharing your process carefully will. 

Two times during the semester we will be creating class workshops together. 
=For the first workshop you will do a paper that details your project justifications and current status, accompanied by a handout, all to flesh out the prototype you will already have begun.
=For the second workshop you will do a poster that accompanies your project itself. The poster will visually detail your research questions, methods, outcome, and conclusions. It will explain the project you are sharing at that time too.

You cannot get full credit for any assignment until after you also present in the workshop sessions, and participate in follow-ups.

In other words, just the written paper or the poster or the project does not in itself complete the assignment. If an emergency or illness kept you from participation in the workshop that week, to get full credit you will have to 1) meet in a mini-workshop with two other students from our class that you make happen, contacting and preparing for, to share your work and their work outside class together, and 2) write up the experience and what you learned from it to complete the participation portion of that grade.

DO NOT MAKE OTHER PLANS FOR DUE DATES: BUILD THEM CAREFULLY INTO YOUR SCHEDULE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE TERM! Put them into your logbook from the beginning so that attending them will always be at the forefront of your term plans. This is especially true of the final day of class, when you discuss your learning analysis with everyone else. Full credit FOR THE COURSE requires attendance and participation on that last day.

Summary of assignments:
• Project Prototype & LB1: 1/4 grade >> 22 February
• Event 1: Status paper & handout & workshop attendance & LB2: 1/4 grade >> 9 March
• Event 2: Project & poster & pics & workshop attendance & LB3: 1/4 grade >> 13 April
• Final Learning Analysis & Process Review & attendance last day & FINAL LB4: 1/4 grade

Workshops and themes 

• Protest Now! Action, Activist Research & Scholarship, How to do it  
Thursday 16 March: 

• Making and Non-Human Emergences 
Thursday 13 April:

Exploring these themes in a workshop means that by attending and listening we will all benefit from the hard work of everyone. Notice that the due dates are only points for sharing: the work should be on-going during the entire semester. 

Obviously attending class faithfully and taking good notes will make all this work a lot easier. Various useful materials are displayed on the class website, to be reviewed at any time. In college courses ALWAYS use your projects to demonstrate how you uniquely put together, or synthesize, class readings, mini-lectures and discussion. Make a point of displaying that you are doing all the reading and attending all the classes. Doing this clearly and carefully will demonstrate that this is your own work, and ensure your credit for honesty and for real engagement with the course.

Wondering how grades are determined? What they mean on your paper? 

• A work is excellent, unusually creative and/or analytically striking
• B is fine work of high quality, though not as skilled, ambitious, or carefully edited as A
• C is average work fulfilling the assignment; may be hasty, drafted once, showing difficulties with grammar, spelling, word choice
• D work is below average or incomplete; shows many difficulties or cannot follow instructions
• F work is not sufficient to pass; unwillingness to do the work, or so many difficulties unable to complete

Remember, you can always talk to Katie about grades and your evaluation concerns anytime. But also note that you are expected to be learning how to evaluate your own work, and to put it into perspective with the work of others, learning from what others do. This means learning how to motivate and understand your own work, not depending solely on what others tell you to do, or how they judge it. Remember: don’t eat the menu (grades) instead of the meal (learning)!

WHAT TO DO IF CAMPUS IS CLOSED, perhaps for weather: 

If campus is closed continue to work at home as described on the website, supplemented by info I will also send out on email, whether we meet as a class or not. This will ensure we will stay on our timeline and not have to make up days at the end of term.

Places to get information about campus adjustments to weather:

and procedures:


what to do when you must unavoidably miss class, for emergency, or perhaps for illness:  

• TALK TO AT LEAST TWO CLASS BUDDIES IMMEDIATELY. Before you even come back to class, call them up or email them and find out if any special assignments are due the day you return, and make sure that you know about any changes in the syllabus. Try to have done the reading and be as prepared as possible to participate in class when you return.
• MAKE A DATE TO MEET WITH CLASS BUDDY TO GET NOTES AND DISCUSS WHAT WENT ON IN CLASS WHILE YOU WERE GONE. You are responsible for what happened in class while you were gone. As soon as possible, get caught up with notes, with discussions with buddies and finally with all the readings and assignments. Always talk with class buddies first. This is the most important way to know what went on when you were gone and what you should do.
• AFTER YOU HAVE GOTTEN CLASS NOTES AND TALKED ABOUT WHAT WENT ON IN CLASS WITH BUDDIES, THEN MAKE APPOINTMENT TO SEE KATIE. If you just miss one class, getting the notes and such should be enough. But if you've been absent for more than a week, be sure you make an appointment with Katie, and come in and discuss what is going on. She wants to know how you are doing and how she can help. Or, while you are out, if it's as long as a week, send Katie email at and let her know what is happening with you, so she can figure out what sort of help is needed.
• IF YOU ARE OUT FOR ANY EXTENDED TIME be sure you contact Katie. Keep her up to date on what is happening, so that any arrangements necessary can be made. If you miss too much class you will have to retake the course at another time. But if you keep in contact, depending on the situation, perhaps accommodations can be made. Since attendance is crucial for all assignments and thus for your final grade, don't leave this until the end. LET KATIE KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING so that she can help as much and as soon as possible.
• THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EXCUSED ABSENCE AND ANYTHING ELSE: generally speaking you are only allowed to make up work you missed if you have an excused absence. That the absence is excused does not mean you are excused from doing the work you missed, but that you allowed to make it up. I usually permit people to make up any work they miss, and do not generally require documentation for absences. Be sure to give explanations in your logbook and do make up all work you have missed.