We will spend the majority of our time in conversation with one another. The format of the discussions will vary. We will most commonly engage in small-group discussions of questions introduced by the instructor, but there will be plenty of more creative activities.

Discussions depend on individual students’ contributions and decorum, such as asking clarifying questions, encouraging each other to speak, delivering summaries, and offering commentaries. Together we will use such strategies to arrive at our desired learning outcomes while being mindful of the multiple and diverse experiences of all class participants. We ask that students participate to the extent of their abilities, respect each other, and review some tips on leading discussions.

In each class, we will:

  • come prepared to discuss the day’s readings and assignments,
  • discuss, in various group sizes, those readings and assignments,
  • occasionally review background material on the day’s themes,
  • warm-up to participate in an active-learning environment,
  • synthesize those themes (often through group activities),
  • and reinforce those themes through reflections (exit tickets).

We also expect our most vocal students to actively create space for others’ contributions by bringing in quieter voices to the discussions.

Missing class

You can miss 2 of our 20 (or 21 if autumn) classes (or 2 / 20 reading posts, see below) without penalty. Please talk to us if you plan to or have missed any more classes than that—we will try to be accommodating.

If you do not talk to us your participation grade will go down at about a rate of about two percentage points (of your total grade) per day missed.


We expect students to complete each day’s readings and, each day, submit a (brief) post with questions or comments on the day’s reading.

You may lose participation points if you have obviously not come prepared for class.

While the readings vary in their difficulty and length, we expect students will spend approximately four hours on each day’s readings, with considerable variance. That’s eight hours of reading a week.

Readings are roughly ordered by priority.

If you fall behind, begin with the next set of readings which are due so you can participate in the day’s discussion. Our discussions and assignments are closely tied to the readings, so it is incumbent upon you to make your best effort in completing the readings.

If you are stuck on a reading, do not hesitate to reach out.


The point of this course is not a grade. Students should attend because of the readings and discussions—not in spite of them.

This course will be graded on a 4.0 scale as so:

  • 20% participation
    • Expect to get full marks if you contribute regularly to discussions in a way that demonstrates having attempted the readings and you submit enough reading posts.
  • 80% course project, consisting of, as percentages of your total grade:
    • 5% proposal,
    • 20% progress check,
    • 10% peer review,
    • and 45% final.

Late assignments

Please get in touch if you need to submit something late. We’re understanding but deadlines are also useful to get us all on the same page.

In-Person Learning

As you know, the university has mask and vaccination policies that change as the context changes. We will not repeat those requirements and recommendations here, but we will follow them.

Your participation is required because this is a discussion seminar. It does not make sense to record a seminar like this, nor do we plan to support hybrid learning unless the situation changes significantly enough that we have no better option. It is not feasible to support asynchronous participation in a discussion seminar.

The health and safety of you, your classmates, and the instructors is, of course, a primary concern. If you need to miss class or hardships arise, let us know. Please do stay home if you are ill. We’ll make it work.

Consult the UW policies for more information.

Academic Integrity

We follow the Allen School’s policy for academic integrity and misconduct.

If you consult other students’ work please attribute it accordingly—don’t copy.


There is no required textbook for this class. All readings will be available on the course website—the majority of which will be either scans or online articles. While the course website may show the readings and assignments for the entire course, they are subject to change until the week they are due.

Inclusion and Disagreement

We welcome students from all backgrounds and adhere to the Allen School’s Inclusiveness Statement. If anything related to the course makes you feel unwelcome in any way, let the instructor know.

Many of the topics explored in this class are relevant because of their contentious and often unresolved nature. Students should bring an open mind and a desire to examine perspectives possibly different than their own. It is important that everyone be particularly respectful of each other’s positions and to allow for exploration. We do not want or expect you to agree with everything you are assigned to read — your instructor doesn’t agree with it all.

Accommodation and Resources

We are eager to provide necessary accommodations. Please ask!

Disability Accommodations

Please see the UW resources at

Religious Accommodations

Please see the UW resources at

Writing help

From the Odegaard Writing Center website:

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers free, one-to-one, 45-minute tutoring sessions for undergraduate, graduate, and professional writers in all fields at the UW. We will work with writers on any writing or research project, as well as personal projects such as applications or personal statements. Our tutors and librarians collaborate with writers at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to drafting and making final revisions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please see our website or email us at