LIS 382L.5: GOVERNMENT INFORMATION
Additional information about each assignment will be provided by the instructor. Written assignments are to be word-processed and double-spaced in 10- or 12-point font, with 1" margins. Assignments are due in class unless otherwise indicated. GRP indicates a group assignment.
All assignments must be handed in on time, and the instructor reserves the right to issue a course grade of F if any assignment is not completed. Late assignments will not be accepted unless three criteria are met:
The first criterion can be met only in the most serious of health, family, or personal situations.
Since this course takes place in the (abbreviated) summer session, it is imperative to be assiduous in keeping up with the readings and with the written assignments. It is very difficult to cover all the important topics related to government information in any one semester, much less in the five weeks available to us this first summer session. All that said, the course and assignments are structured to help you develop significant expertise with government information sources, services, and policies. You should be confident that you will emerge with considerable familiarity with important government information sources, programs, actors, and the like. Naturally, your success in this course, as with all others, depends upon your own performance.
Please consult the sections in this syllabus on (1) Analysis in Reading, Writing, and Presenting and (2) Standards for Written Work before and after doing the assignments.
Besides being an active and engaged member of the class, each student must complete two tasks related to the preparation and participation grade:
There will be three reference problem sets due at various times of the semester. Each student will use the handouts as the answer sheets, using the suggested sources for determining the answers. It is imperative to document your answers fully and to use the particular sources and formats as indicated in the problem instructions. The sets cover three broad topics:
The instructor will provide each problem set in hard copy or as a Word email attachment approximately one week before it is due.
There are many other very valuable sources of such questions, many with answers provided, including:
Students will organize themselves into groups of three or four in order to identify and evaluate one major information creation, organization, and dissemination initiative of a U.S. federal, state, or local government agency. Of special interest are how the initiative contributes to the achievement of the agency’s mission, what audience(s) the initiative is meant to reach, and how the initiative helps us think further about concerns and issues we have considered in the course.
The report will focus on one major information program or product in any format and for any audience(s). Examples of appropriate sources for this assignment are particular print publications, databases, Web sites (perhaps three to five screens “deep”), and information education initiatives. This information activity should not be one that we have spent much time discussing in class.
By Thursday June 12, the students will notify the instructor of the members of the team and of the agency information product or service the team will examine. The team will then submit an outline or full draft of their report no later than Thursday June 26. The final report is due on Tuesday July 8.
Each individual student will have the opportunity to select a topic from the list below and write a focused, analytic paper about the issue and its importance. No more than two students will be able to choose any one issue, and the topics will be assigned on a first come/first served basis.
Be sure to discuss the salient elements of the issue at hand, to contextualize it in the context of our work this semester, and to use our readings and discussions this semester to inform your analysis. These issues are quite complex, and there are many reasonable ways to consider them – be sure to think about several alternative approaches but focus on one.
Each student will produce an essay 5 double-spaced pages long. Please be sure that the paper is analytic, reflective, holistic, and specifically grounded in all of the sources you use. Also be sure to review two parts of the syllabus: (1) Analysis in reading, writing, and presenting and (2) Suggestions for writing policy analysis. Recall that you will not be able to perform a fully realized policy analysis, given your time and space constraints, but I expect that you will be able to make an informed and informing argument, well beyond the simplistic “well, I think . . .” approach. Show how the course has improved your ability to make policy arguments.