The syllabus is the guiding document for pedagogical relationships. By crafting a syllabus, teachers are building pathways along which their students will travel during the learning process. The syllabus is also an institutional and disciplinary record: an articulation of academic concepts, readings, and ideas framed in a specific historical moment. Though individual departments may collect course syllabi, such collections are siloed and fail to capitalize on collaborative technologies that facilitate sharing, community, and innovation across disciplinary lines. A database allowing members to upload and search syllabi by topic, text or author across the CUNY campuses would enable teachers in the CUNY system and beyond to build on one another’s work while reflecting upon pedagogical trends within and across disciplines. It would also create a lasting archive of CUNY instructional materials and an institutional history of teaching and learning at the university.
The CUNY Syllabus Project will look at the pathways we create through our syllabi and visualize the ways they intersect and overlap with, and diverge from, one another other. The CSP will create a robust resource that provides ways to search, compare, and visualize syllabi across institutions, disciplines, and departments at CUNY. It will host an evolving database of syllabi contributed by graduate students, full- and part-time faculty, and adjuncts. We think that inviting submissions from CUNY educators – rather than scraping the web for syllabi – will lay the groundwork for a robust community of educators that have an interest in analyzing CUNY’s pedagogical history and building upon its pedagogical future. These syllabi will cover a variety of disciplines, course levels, and topics, providing a rich foundation for analysis and comparison. Data fields within each syllabus, such as the titles and authors of assigned readings, will assist in future course planning and curricula research within and across disciplines. The goal of the CSP is to empower teachers to be able to be more creative and innovative with their pathway building.
The CUNY Syllabus Project will use visualization tools to help assess how courses are structured around particular reading materials. Users will be able to identify popular modules, sequences, and relationships within disciplines and juxtapose these with other disciplines. This will enable users to analyze pedagogical trends both within and outside their fields and gain a critical awareness of pedagogical strategies and texts deployed across the CUNY campuses.
The CUNY Syllabus Project will catalog and preserve CUNY’s instructional history in a rich and evolving database that is accessible by researchers and educators. By building an inclusive database of syllabi and visualizations that feature pathways from many disciplines and departments throughout CUNY, the CSP will redress disciplinary siloing and inconsistent archiving practices at the individual campuses by consolidating and organizing syllabi across campuses. This alternative approach will enhance the way syllabi are referenced and built upon while fostering institutional memory of pedagogical practices. As such, the project has the potential to create a lasting resource for CUNY.
Who We Are
Laura Wildemann Kane is a Doctoral Candidate in the Philosophy Department at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Managing Editor of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.
Andrew G. McKinney is a Doctoral Candidate in the Sociology Department at The Graduate Center, CUNY, a Fellow at The Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center, and a Community Facilitator at the City Tech Open Lab.
We would like to thank Matthew Gold and the Graduate Center Digital Fellows for their help initiating this project. We would also like to thank Luke Waltzer of the Graduate Center Teaching and Learning Center for his guidance and sponsorship of this project.
This project has been made possible with the help of two Provost’s Digital Innovation Grants for the 2016-2017 and 2015-2016 Academic Years, and a Doctoral Students’ Council Knowledge Grant for the 2014-2015 Academic Year.