SI 597/697 Community Information: Project Corps

Professor Paul Resnick

Winter 1999

Revised 11/17/99 (PR).

Tentative Syllabus

Meets Thursdays 6-7:30PM  in 409 West Hall
Class home page
Project listings

This 1-creidt seminar course offers reading, reflection, and social networking experiences for students who are engaged in projects or considering careers that put information to work for community and public purposes. Most students will enroll concurrently in some kind of project work, either through a Directed Field Experience (DFE), an independent study, a workshop course such as 699, or a professor-led project (see examples below).

In this seminar, students will read about and discuss theories of community, civil society, and the role of the non-profit sector, and draw connections with their project work (reading and reflection). There will also be frequent opportunities to meet some of the national leaders of the community information movement (social networking) and possibly travel to relevant conferences and workshops. At the end of this course, students who are interested in pursuing careers in the community information movement should know how to begin a job search in this area.

You are encouraged to participate for multiple semesters (even all four semesters of the master's program); while we'll keep revisiting similar themes, there will be minimal overlap in the readings and activities.

The first day of each semester will be a project-fest, where faculty announce project opportunities and try to recruit you to join the projects, and Karen Jordan presents Directed Field Experience opportunities.


Students who have completed SI501 should register for this course as SI697. Other students should register for this course as SI597.


After participating in SI 597-697, you should be able to:


A course pack is will soon be available at Dollar Bill Copying, on Church Street, just south of South University. You will need to read materials before class so that we can have lively discussion (see reaction paper assignments below).

Assignments and Due Dates

Travel and Social Networking

If you find a conference that's worth going to that and that you think will help you in assessing job prospects or developing project ideas for future semesters, you can ask me for travel funds.


Please register for this class pass/fail (satisfactory/unsatisfactory). This is not a class that lends itself to conventional grading. Last semester, I graded purely on effort, and almost everyone got an A. The school frowns on this. So my solution is to ask you to register for the course in a way that doesn't require you to receive a letter grade.

Office Hours

Thursdays 3-5 PM, and by appointment
314 West Hall

Session Schedule

Date Topic Guests Assignments
Jan 6 Introductions of people and projects SI faculty; Karen Jordan none
Jan 13 The roles of citizens   Walzer, M. (1998). The Idea of Civil Society: A Path to Social Reconstruction. In Community Works: The Revival of Civil Society in America. E. J. Dionne. Washington, DC, Brookings Institution: 123-143.
Jan 20 Public history and cultural heritage James Steward, Director, Univ. Of Michigan Museum of Art  
Jan 27 Roles and Values for Community-oriented Information Professionals Michael Cohen  
Feb 3 Venture philanthropy Tom Reis, W.K. Kellogg Foundation  
Feb 10 Deliberative democracy   TBA: Habermas, Elster, Cohen, or Rawls
Feb 17 Voter information systems TBA: Publius? California Voter Foundation? Web, White, and Blue? DemocracyNet?  
Feb 24 Community Technology Centers Mara Rose, Playing to Win  
March 9 Civic Engagement I: Why it Matters   Putnam book (excerpts)
March 16 Civic Engagement II: What is to be Done?   Excerpts from Putnam book, Saguaro seminar report
March 18, AM Public lecture on civic engagement and social capital Robert Putnam  
March 23 Native American telecom Karen Buller, National Indian Telecommunications Institute  
March 30 Universal Service: communications policy   TBA
April 6 Neighborhood technology John Griffin  
April 13 Wrapup and project reflections