Instructor: John R. Marks, IV
Office: William Johnston Building (WJB 2027)
Office Hours: TBA


This course examines selected fundamental policy questions regarding information and communications, with special attention to intricate policy issues such as information ownership rights, privacy rights, and public access to information. The course will examine such issues by focusing on the underlying constitutional principles, laws and regulations, statutes, and government policies that impact such issues. Specific attention will be given to federal policies within the United States but state and local policies will be examined as needed. Specific course topics will include universal service, information equity, privacy, intellectual property, censorship, e-government, and information management. The course focuses on providing information professionals with a fundamental understanding of the importance and impact of information policy.


At the end of the course, the student will be able to:


This course will primarily make use of academic journal and other articles, standard literature, and government documents. The materials will all be available either through online databases through the FSU library or on publically available websites. Readings will be assigned and posted to the course site.

Course Procedures

The format of the class will generally be as follows. I will post each classes readings and other materials (e.g. video and audio presentations) to the “Assignments” section days before class, to give you time to complete the reading/viewing/listening assignments.

For the first hour of our meeting, I will lecture to the class on the week's topic. Be sure to have the reading done well in advance, and be ready to ask and answer questions during lecture.

For the second hour, each member of the class will meet with her team in a “breakout” session. Teams will be 3 to 4 people and be assigned randomly by me. In your breakout session you will spend some time discussing the week's topics, and subsequently work towards completing your Discussion Summary and/or Policy Work.

In the event that Canvas and/or Collaborate is down, class should still continue normally. Consult if this should happen.


All assignments for the term of the course will be written prose assignments. Students are expected to:

- Write effectively. Clarity and organization are a must, as well as proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. All of these factors will comprise a significant part of your grade.
- Research and draw from a variety of resources in developing a thesis; no source is forbidden, but ALL sources must be implicitly or explicitly evaluated with regards to accuracy and reliability, and cited to properly.
- Turn in her own (or the group's own) work. Citation and quoting of other sources is permissible, but only as a supplement to the student's original work, and must be clearly distinguished as such. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden.
- Adhere to the specifications of the assignment, such as format and word count.

There will be three basic types of assignments: Group Discussion, Policy Work, and Long Papers.

Each week, after I lecture, you will break out into chat rooms to discuss the week's topic. Then, you will work toward completion of either a Discussion, Policy Work, or Both.

Group Discussions

Each Group Discussion is a weekly wrap-up of the week's material ; a slightly more formalized “meeting minutes.” That is, after you have taken some time to discuss the week's topic in your breakout room, as a team, you will summarize your group's ideas and conclusions.

What is most important is that I see that you are really wrestling with the ideas presented to you. To this end, your Discussion Summary may be topically disjointed, as long as it is clear and well-organized. Similarly, it is quite okay if two or more team members disagree. (indeed, it would be questionable if everyone were to agree all the time.)

You should post a team summary, though individuals may reply to that post to continue or clarify the discussion. Please title the team summary in the following format.


These should be 500 words at a (very) minimum. These will be due 72 hours from the end of class, though it will almost certainly be easiest for you to complete them during classtime.

These will be graded "quasi pass/fail" in order to (hopefully) stimulate interesting conversation and to minimize students' seeking to "please the instructor." For the first 3 weeks, we may evaluate and comment on your content, but such evaluation will NOT be applied to your grade, you merely need to complete the assignment for credit. However, after 3 weeks, I will begin to take off points (up to 3 final grade points per assignment) for sloppiness and/or laziness.

These will be posted to the appropriate discussion board. Other teams may comment.

Policy Work

These are tightly-focused group assignments for the purpose of either in-depth analysis of a particular policy, developing new policy, or both. You will read and review the assignment, the policy, and provide a written deliverable per the instructions. These will be graded pass-fail, as above.

Long papers

One or two longer papers will be assigned as well. These should be of a specific topic of your choosing, but should be related to material we have covered in that particular portion of the class, and be responsive to one or more policies. One thousand words, one clear, original idea, supported by facts. You will be expected to focus on a specific topic, and evaluate or argue a narrowly defined position. I will review proposed topics if requested, but unfortunately I will not be able to evaluate first drafts.

Citation is necessary if you are relying heavily on the cited work, or quoting or responding to another work. You may use any citation style you prefer, so long as it is clear and understandable.


40% - Attendance/Participation/Discussion Summaries
30% - Policy Work
30% - Long Papers

Outline of topics. See Calendar

Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the family and other documented crises, call to
active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities. These absences
will be accommodated in a way that does not arbitrarily penalize students who have a valid excuse.
Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children experience serious illness.
Corroborating documentation for all excuses must be submitted in writing, must be signed by
the excusing authority, and must include complete contact information for the authority,
including telephone numbers and address.It is the student's responsibility to verify course drops and check that fees are adjusted.
In addition, the course requires that attendance in distance and in-class classes shall mean regular
access to the course web site via, regular participation in class discussion forums, as
well as proper submission of assignments and timely review of grades. Here, "regular" shall mean a
substantial amount of time on a weekly basis.

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University’s expectations for the
integrity of students’ academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those
expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the
process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their
pledge to “. . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at
Florida State University.” (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:
(1) register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; and
(2) bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be
done during the first week of class.
This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.
For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the:
Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

"Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) statement, this
syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice.”

Some of the materials in this course are possibly copyrighted. They are intended for use only by
students registered and enrolled in this course and only for instructional activities associated with, and
for the duration of, the course. They may not be retained in another medium or disseminated further.
They are provided in compliance with the provisions of the Technology, Education, And Copyright
Harmonization (TEACH) Act (refer to the 3/7/2001 TEACH Act at ).

It is the policy of the University that its employees and students neither commit nor condone sexual
harassment in any form.

A list of all hardware and software requirements for students participating in the School of Library and
Information Studies (SLIS) courses can be found at the following location:

Incomplete (“I”) grades will not be assigned, except in the case of exceptional unforeseen
circumstances that occur within the last three weeks of the semester and your work has otherwise been
satisfactory (C average).

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