I am explaining and stating these policies now, in the clearest possible terms, so there can be no dispute over what I expect. If you have questions about my expectations, please raise them. But whenever you ask me to modify my expectations because you failed to plan and use your time efficiently, you put me as well as the rest of the class in the ethically difficult position of applying different standards to different people. I ask that you accept responsibility for your actions rather than put us all in an uncomfortable position.
At this point in your intellectual development, you should have some sense of personal responsibility. Class attendance, therefore, will be up to you. It will be very difficult, however, to pass the course without attending class because the assignments are the focus of many of the class discussions. In fact, failure to attend class on many occasions will have grave consequences. A word to the wise, in short, should be sufficient.
students with disabilities
If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at (703) 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office.
Please check your GMU mailbox periodically or arrange for your GMU mailbox material to be forwarded to your preferred email address. In addition, be sure that your mailbox has not exceeded its capacity so that your mail bounces back to me. If I send out announcements, I use the GMU mailing class mailing lists per university regulations. If you need to email me, please put HIST 615 in the subject line and sign your full name. Putting something like “Hi” or “Have a question” is a common “spam” technique, and my emailer is trained to junk these messages. Using HIST 615 in the subject line will help my spam detector route you to the proper folder, guarantee that I read your email, and ensure that I know who you are. Do not, however, expect an immediate response.
a note on computer use
Computers are a great boon to the student writer. But, as with any technology, you must take steps to minimize the problems that computers inevitably cause. Do not expect to get through the semester without having at least one computer crisis. Prepare for this well in advance. Back up your work constantly and have alternative plans for obtaining computer use, if your primary options fail you. We will never accept computer problems as excuses for missed assignments. You must also keep backup copies of submitted assignments—either in electronic form or hard copy.
Similarly, computers and email permit around-the-clock communication. If you have questions or need to apprise the instructor of an emergency situation, contact me via email. Should you need to discuss an issue with the instructor, contact me via email or by phone. Many of your questions can be answered by consulting the web site at:
The site contains a duplicate of the syllabus, including the schedule and writing assignments. Since the course makes use of the Internet, you might find it more convenient to use the Web version of the syllabus and its links.
Grades, including +s and -s, will be assigned in the following manner. REMEMBER THEY REPRESENT AN EVALUATION, NOT A REWARD. To rephrase Smith-Barney (now Salomon Smith Barney), the investment folk, we do grades the old-fashioned way—earn them.
A—Outstanding work, complete mastery of the material presented, combined with some originality.
B—A solid command of the material with some gaps or mistakes in a basically sound essay or discussion.
C—Some knowledge of the material; mistakes and confusion are acceptable if mixed with some understanding. Not a reward for attendance or effort.
D—An incomplete and minimal knowledge of the material, major confusions and errors.
F—A failure to present the material in a reasonably accurate and comprehensible manner.
I—There are no “incompletes” given in this course except in cases of bona fide and documented instances in accordance with the regulations of the university.
P—For a “pass” a “C” average is required.
If you receive a grade or criticism that seems unfair or if you desire further explanation, please feel free to discuss the matter with me by making an appointment. My policy is not to discuss grades via email.