Project Name: CUNY Syllabus Project
Grantees: Laura W. Kane, Andrew G. McKinney
Disciplines: Philosophy and Sociology
Funding Cycle: 2015-2016
Project Status: Cycle Complete
The CUNY Syllabus project’s goal is to collect, archive, and visualize syllabi from courses taught in the CUNY system in order to surface patterns within and across disciplines, creating a robust resource for use by novice and master teachers alike. Individual academic departments often archive syllabi, and some universities have university-wide syllabi repositories. However, these repositories are often siloed, not user friendly, and require special access privileges. The CUNY Syllabus project, built on the CUNY Academic Commons, is a crowdsourced syllabus repository that leverages a simple, easy to use submission system to allow users to upload their syllabi and contribute to an evolving database.
The syllabus is the guiding document for pedagogical relationships; as a contract between teacher and student, it has the ability to inspire while structuring content and focusing learning outcomes. It 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 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, an institutional history of teaching and learning at the university.
Built upon the CUNY Academic Commons, an academic social network serving over 7,000 members across the 24-campus CUNY system, the CUNY Syllabus Project will create a robust resource that provides ways to search, compare, and visualize syllabi across institutions, disciplines, and departments. It will host an evolving database of syllabi contributed by graduate students, faculty, and adjuncts. 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 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 academia.