Course Policies and Objectives

Grading Scale

  • 4.0: 100-92
  • 3.5: 91-86
  • 3.0: 85-80
  • 2.5: 79-74
  • 2.0: 73-68
  • 1.5: 67-62
  • 1.0: 61-56
  • 0.0: 55-0

Learning Objectives

The primary learning objectives for this course are:

  • Develop critical digital and historical thinking skills to interpret historical sources, data, and visualizations
  • Become familiar with the history of slavery in the United States from ca. 1770s through 1865
  • Become familiar with a variety of digital tools, programs, and softwares that can shape and critique our understanding of history
  • Strengthen critical comprehension skills and digital literacy of primary sources, secondary sources, online sources, and data visualizations
  • Identify the ethical concerns that accompany working with different kinds of historical data

You will meet these objectives through a combination of the following activities in this course:

  • Synchronous engagement with class discussions/tutorials (see revised expectations in “Covid-19” section on homepage)
  • Completion of all reading and writing assignments
  • Active participation in class discussions, blogs, tutorials, and the course Slack channel.

Attendance Policy

Much of the required work and instruction to complete the blog assignments will take place during regularly scheduled class times (MW 3-4:50pm EST). Because of this, grades will be heavily impacted by unexcused absences. Due to Covid-19, I understand that your situation may change at any time and this attendance policy will be flexible to accommodate your needs.

If you experience pandemic-related (or other) disruptions to your ability to participate in this course, please discuss them with me regardless of what point in the semester they arise. Please also visit the last menu tab of this class website for pandemic and other health-related resources that MSU offers to students.

Late Assignments

Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic, this is a policy that is open for discussion. Generally, if you submit a blog post (the only weekly assignment for the course) within 24-48 hours after it is due (Saturday by 11:59pm EST), you can still receive the full 5 points. For each subsequent week that the assignment is late, I will deduct one point per week. If you experience circumstances that make it difficult for you to complete work on time, please talk to me so that you can still earn the maximum 5 points for the assignment.

Schedule Changes   

This syllabus is subject to change and adjustment during the semester as necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the course. Changes will be made in consultation with the students and communicated in a timely and clear manner.


Your privacy and identity protection is a priority in this class. We will be engaging with online materials and programs that may require the creation of an account to use this service. When possible, I recommend “signing in with Google” to be able to use your MSU net ID information. On certain platforms, like WordPress and Omeka, a username will be publicly displayed. The username will be the same as your MSU net ID, but if you wish to use another username, please let me know of the change by email.

Please, never share your address, credit card information, Social Security Number, or any other personal information on a website that is unprotected or that you do not trust. You will not have to provide any of this information on the online services and programs we use in this class.

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

If you plagiarize any portion of your work in this class, you will receive an automatic zero on that assignment. If you plagiarize a second time, you will receive an automatic zero in the course. In accordance with MSU policy, I will also file a report of the incident with the university. Please review MSU’s definitions and policies regarding academic integrity here:

Citing your sources is essential to avoiding plagiarism. In your blog post assignments and final essay, I expect original thoughts and writing. If you need to cite a source that you consulted, please either hyperlink the source in the sentence it is used (if it is an online source) OR use  MLA or Chicago style citations (in-text parenthetical citations or footnotes) are acceptable.  Whichever you choose, just be consistent.

The Spartan Code of Honor

Michigan State University affirms the principle that all individuals associated with the academic community have a responsibility for establishing, maintaining, and fostering an understanding and appreciation for academic integrity.  Academic integrity is the foundation for university success.  Learning how to express original ideas, cite works, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that carry students beyond their academic career.

The Spartan Code of Honor Academic Pledge:

“​As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor in ownership is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do.”

Resources for Accessibility Accommodations:

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accessibility accommodations may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (blog post, project, tutorial etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.


My goal is to create a supportive learning environment for students with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. I believe in MSU’s initiative to produce an inclusive campus and community:

Mandatory Reporting of Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct

Michigan State University is committed to fostering a culture of caring and respect that is free of relationship violence and sexual misconduct, and to ensuring that all affected individuals have access to services.  For information on reporting options, confidential advocacy and support resources, university policies and procedures, or how to make a difference on campus, visit the Title IX website at

Limits to confidentiality.  Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies.  However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others.  As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child; Allegations of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, or sexual harassment; and Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may result in contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared.  In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting, you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services.