Conflict in America: Case Studies in Peace Making

COPLAC Digital: Digital Arts at a Distance

Spring 2019
Tues, Thurs 1:00-2:15 EST

Dr. Jessica Wallace:
Dr. James Welch: ________________________________________________________

Course Description:

American society has often been beset by clashes between different beliefs and cultures. Contemporary America seems more divided than ever before—how do we move forward as a society plagued by these divisions? All COPLAC institutions reside in communities that have been touched by conflicts over issues such as class, race, gender, ideology, religion, culture, and immigration. In many cases, these communities have been able to resolve these conflicts through a concern for civic welfare or community stability. This course will explore the subject of conflict resolution in local, historical contexts. Students will gain an understanding of the nature of conflict resolution and historical examples of successful resolution. Students will identify and research a case study of conflict resolution from their own communities. They will learn digital skills to help them design a website that can help facilitate conflict resolution in other communities. The scope of this course is interdisciplinary in nature and especially applicable to students in anthropology, criminology, history, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Learning Objectives and Course Expectations:

Every student will:

  • Gain an understanding of the nature of human conflict
  • Identify historical examples of conflict from their local regions
  • Define techniques of conflict resolution, and examine their effectiveness in historical conflict situations
  • Effectively communicate their understanding of conflict resolution to the public using digital technology
  • Develop a familiarity with diverse methods and processes of digital liberal arts and utilization of technological resources in research, data analysis, and presentation
  • Work together cooperatively and creatively
  • Demonstrate application of critical analysis, written, and oral communication skills through the website and oral presentations

Students are expected to attend all class sessions or view the class sessions online and meet with professors as needed/required, read all assigned texts, and participate in class. Classes are recorded so that if you must miss a class for a funeral, university-sanctioned event, or similarly excused absences, you may keep up with what happened in your absence. These recordings are not intended to be used in lieu of attending class, nor will such usage be permitted.

Students are also responsible for submitting all project drafts and the final product by the contracted due date. Assignments are considered late if turned in/posted any time after the appointed due date. Late projects will be penalized one half letter grade per day.

Discussions: Students are expected to attend all classes having read the assigned material or having completed assigned tasks. Class participation includes actively participating in daily discussions and responding to class presentations. To that end, for each class for which there are readings or videos, students should also prepare a list of comments on the material (parallels, problems, factual questions, reminders of past readings, connections to ideas from other classes or from “real life”) so that they have those points in front of them for the discussion. Although we have no current plan to collect these comments, we reserve the right to do so at any point during the semester.

Blogging: Distance learning courses present unique challenges with regard to collaboration and communication. Some of the tactics we may use to bridge the distance gap will be blogs, discussions, and use of social media. Narrating the planning, research, and implementation processes via your blogs is a central part of the class and a way for us to measure your effort, creativity, and progress as digital scholars. Blog about your problems as well as your successes. Be sure to comment on each others’ blogs and help each other out. We are a community, and we are all encountering similar challenges. So, tap into your colleagues’ experiences by posting your own thoughts and commenting on one another’s blog posts at least once a week. These weekly posts are minimum expectations for each class member.

Each student will each be responsible for building their own blogs/sites for the course. This individual student blog/site will include the weekly blog/journal entries and responses to individual assignments.   

Texts and course materials: All materials required for this course will be available in electronic format through the course website.

The Project: During this course, student teams will conduct primary-source research and create and develop their campus/local project site. The project site will present an historical incident of conflict resolution in their community. This constitutes their final project for the course. A draft of the project will be due on November 12, and based on the Project Contract (See below) and the Professors’ comments, students will submit a final version of their project by December 3.

Project Contracts: Each student will create contracts with Dr. Wallace and Dr. Welch about their projects. The research proposals are due September 17 and the final research contracts are due October 1. Each contract will need to be approved by us and may need to be tweaked before approval. Each contract must include:

  • Mission statement (describe project)
  • Tools the student plans to use
  • Schedule of milestones (when critical pieces are ready to present)

Some sample contracts and the project contract template can be found here:

NOTE: These contracts may be revised as the semester goes on, though only with good reason and only after discussion with Dr. Wallace and Dr. Welch.

Regular Updates:  Starting in week 6, each individual will be expected to make weekly status updates in class on Thursdays (usually; check the course schedule) on their progress. Although some weeks 3-5 minute updates will be sufficient, on other weeks individuals will need to present a more thorough update. More details on when you will be responsible for a lengthier presentation will be posted later in the semester.

End of the Semester Presentations:  At the end of the semester each individual will make a 8-10 minute presentation summarizing their project. More on this later in the semester.

Reflection Post: In the last week of the semester, each student will be expected to write a blog post that should reflect on their research process and project. This post should be around 500 words.  

Learning the Digital Tools: Because the website project is central to this course, much of what you learn will be about using digital technology to create your website. We want to cultivate a sense of self-reliance as you work with these digital tools, therefore, when you have a question or encounter a problem, try finding the answer yourself through the WordPress Codex or other online resources. Remember that you can/should also use your fellow students as resources, as well. Then, if the solution still eludes you, reach out to the instructional technologists on your home campus, who will be more than happy to share their expertise with you. If you’re still having difficulty, let us know!  

Academic Conduct: If you cheat or plagiarize in this class, you will fail, and we will report the incident to the Instructor-of-Record on your home campus.  On the other hand, having friends or family read and comment on your writing can be extremely helpful and falls within the bounds of proper academic conduct (assuming the writing itself remains yours). If you have questions about these issues, then you should talk to us sooner rather than later.

Email: When you email your professors, please make sure to copy both of us on the email. That way, we are both kept informed of what is going on. We check email regularly during on weekdays (9-5), but less so on weekends, so keep that in mind and plan accordingly; please don’t count on getting a response to a Saturday email until Monday.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:  We are committed to making this course and related activities accessible to persons with documented disabilities. If you receive services through your Office of Disability Resources and require accommodations for this class, please speak with us as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs. We will need a copy of your accommodation letter. We will hold any information you share with us in the strictest confidence unless you give us permission to do otherwise. If you need accommodations, please consult with your Office of Disability Resources about the appropriate documentation of a disability.

Assessment: Because this course is supported with a Mellon Foundation grant, we will ask each student to participate in one survey before the beginning of the semester, and one survey at the end of the semester. These surveys are merely for information-gathering purposes and will not be a part of the grade.________________________________________________________________
Assignments and Grades:

Check course calendar for due dates.

These assignments are explained above, and there will also be detailed instructions for each one posted on the course website. This section is a recap of your graded work for the semester:

Blogging: You will keep a personal blog, which you will keep regularly updated each week on your progress, difficulties, challenges, successes, etc. Reading and commenting on your classmates’ blogs each week is expected; help each other out with what you’ve learned in the course of your research and in working with technology.

Attendance and Participation: Attending all class meetings and participating in discussions is expected.

Preparatory Research Assignments: These include: Map/Timeline, Research Proposal, Research Plan, Research Contract, 3 Milestones. These assignments are each designed to help you complete a piece of your final project. They will each have instructions that will be distributed over the course of the semester.

Final Project: You and your partner will research a conflict in your own community. The final outcome of this project will be a website that the two of you build using your own research, community resources, and the skills you develop in class. There will be preliminary assignments due along the way that keep you on track in developing and refining your project and presentation of the information you are learning.

Oral Presentation: Our semester ends with a formal oral presentation.

Reflection Post: At the end of the semester, you will write a reflection post on your experiences with the research project and process. _____________________________________________________________

Final Grades: Final grades will be determined according to the table below. Unsatisfactory performance will be reported mid-semester to your instructor of record on your home campus.  The seminar instructors will transmit the final grade to your advisor, and she or he will enter the grade using an independent study option at your home campus.

AssignmentPercentage of Points
Blog Posts10
Class Participation10
Project Proposal10
Research Plan5
Research Contract10
Milestone 15
Milestone 25
Milestone 35
Final Research Project20
Reflection Essay5
Total Points100

A: 90-100

B: 80-89

C: 70-79

D: 60-69

F: 59 and below


See Course Calendar for the weekly schedule!