INFO 281-06
INFO 281-14
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Civic Literacy (1-Unit)
Spring 2020 Syllabus

Mary F. Evangeliste

Other contact information:202-270-1585
Office location: Tucson, Arizona
Office Hours: by appointment 

Syllabus Links
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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 23rd at 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

This 1-unit course runs from January 23rd - February 20th. 

Course Description

As librarians, we are dedicated to literacy, but have we abandoned civic literacy? We understand civic literacy to be: having the knowledge to act as empowered citizens and residents within the context of democracy.  As a community of practice, we will examine our role in educating the community about how to actively participate and initiate change in their local community and the greater society. This course will explore the role that civic literacy plays in our active democracy and how it can enhance the library’s central role in information sharing, convening, and facilitating community engagement.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204


Online Discussion for each week  

Exercise One: Complete Civic Literacy Assessment 

Article Reflection for week 2 & 3

The building of resource list 

Create an Information Tool for Civic Literacy 

Presenting Information Tool to class

Course Calendar

Week One

CLO #1

Introduction to course:

  • Importance of civics and why Libraries and Librarians?

  • Information & Democracy

  • Where do we have influence? 

Action: Take Civic Literacy assessment

Week Two

CLOs #2, #3, #4


  • Local Civics & Libraries
  • Local Engagement

Begin exploring civic intentionality & moving beyond providing information to action.

  • Convene
  • Facilitate
  • Create

Action: Choose a topic for Information tool

Week Three

CLOs #3#4

Federal Government:

  • Executive order
  • Regulations-Get your opinion heard
  • Federal Representatives

State Government:

  • How to get your opinion heard
  • State Representatives

Action: Build a resource list

Week Four

CLOs #1,#2#3#4

Peer Presentation of Projects

Next Steps


Online Discussion for each week  10%

Exercise One: Complete Civic Literacy Assessment 20%

Article Reflection for week 2 & 3 10%

The building of resource list 10%

Create an Information Tool for Civic Literacy 40% 

Presenting Information Tool to class 10%

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, other prerequisites may be added depending on content

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify one's own level of civic literacy & ways to increase it.
  2. Explore best practices for local library civic engagement and how it relates to budget, services and resources.
  3. Analyze non-subscription resources (government and nonprofit) for the ways they can be used to empower individuals to engage in civic processes.
  4. Create an information product.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.


Recommended Textbooks:

  • Krug, S. (2014). Don't make me think, revisited: A common sense approach to web usability. Peachpit. Available through Amazon: 0321965515arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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