SI 597/697 Community Information: Project Corps

Professor Paul Resnick

Winter 2000

Revised 1/6/00 (PR).


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

Be sure to check Course Tools for announcements and other nice features. The URL is:

This 1-credit 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 course such as 635, 695, or 699, or a professor-led project (see project examples).

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 learn about other students' projects and 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 will 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:


Readings will be handed out in class, or available on the Web. You will need to read materials before class so that we can have lively discussion (see reaction paper assignments below).

Assignments and Due Dates

This is a 1-credit class. Class meets for an hour and a half each week. You should spend, on average, about two and a half hours each week outside of class, doing the following:

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

Wednesdays 11AM-noon, and by appointment (except January 26 and Feb 2).
314 West Hall

Session Schedule

Date Topic Guests Assignments (due before class)
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.
Wed. Jan 19, 3:30 PM, 411 West Hall Museums and public cultural work James Steward, Director, Univ. Of Michigan Museum of Art none
Jan 20      
Sat. Jan 22 Visiting day for prospective students interested in SI and the Community Information Corps   none
Jan 27 Roles and Values for Public Informationists   Resnick, P. Draft proposal for CIC loan repayment program.
Feb 3 Venture philanthropy Tom Reis, W.K. Kellogg Foundation


Note: this is a *draft* version. Please do not recirculate it, as a final version will be out shortly.

Feb 10 Deliberative democracy   Minnesota e-democracy site

Cohen, Joshua (1997) Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy. In Deliberative Democracy: Eassays on Reason and Politics. J. Bohman and W. Rehg eds. Cambridge, MIT Press. pps. 407-437.

Feb 17 Voter information systems   DemocracyNet

Web White and Blue

Feb 24 Community Technology Centers Mara Rose, Playing 2 Win CTCNet

Playing 2 Win


March 9 Neighborhood technology John Griffin, Avenue L Who's That? web site

March 16 Civic Engagement I: Why it Matters   Excerpts (chs. 16, 18, 21) from draft of forthcoming book by Robert Putnam
Sat. 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      
April 13 Wrapup and project reflections    

Discussion Questions for Readings

For January 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.

  1. What are the four straw men (caricatures) that Walzer provides for the ideal roles of individuals in society (i.e., the good life)?
  2. The fifth staw man is the "associational" view, that the ideal role for individuals is to be active members of whichever associations they choose. According to Walzer, how do associations fit into, and modify each of the four other "singular" views of society?
  3. What are Walzer's conclusions about what needs to be done? Do you agree with these prescriptions?
  4. What are the primary information flows in each vision of the good life that Walzer proposes?
  5. What roles can information professionals play in improving each of those information flows?