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College of Professional and Global Education · School of Information

Seminar in Contemporary Issues - Civic Literacy
INFO 281

  • Spring 2023
  • Sections 03, 14
  • 1 Unit(s)
  • 01/25/2023 to 02/24/2023
  • Modified 05/22/2023

Canvas Information: Courses will be available January 25th, 6 am PT.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Contact Information

Course Description and Requisites

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.


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

Classroom Protocols


Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Program Information

Course Workload

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 Goals

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes) Supported

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

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

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

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.

Course Materials


Recommended Textbooks:

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

Course Requirements and Assignments

Online Discussion for each week

Exercises: Complete Civic Literacy Assessments

Article Reflection for week 2 & 3

Build a personal/professional resource list -myRolodex

Create Information Object for Civic Literacy

Present Information Tool & myRolodex to class


Online Discussion for each week 15%

Exercise One: Complete 2 Civic Literacy Assessments 20%

Article Reflection for week 2 & 3 15%

The building of resource list (myRolodex) 20%

Presenting of resource list to class 5%

Create an Information Tool for Civic Literacy 20%

Presenting Information Tool to class 5%

Grading Information

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

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


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 (PDF), relevant university policy concerning all courses, such as student responsibilities, academic integrity, accommodations, dropping and adding, consent for recording of class, etc. and available student services (e.g. learning assistance, counseling, and other resources) are listed on the Syllabus Information web page. Make sure to visit this page to review and be aware of these university policies and resources.

Course Schedule

Week One

CLO #1


Introduction to the course:

  • What is Civic Literacy? What is the state of Civic Literacy? Why is Civic Literacy important to Libraries as a whole and to Librarians both personally and professionally?
  • Information & Democracy-Our Role
  • Civics is not Politics
  • Where do we have influence?


Welcome & Overview Video | Civic Literacy Reading | Introduction | Reflection | Take Civic Literacy Assessment-Part 1

Week Two

#2, #3, #4


  • Local Civics & Libraries
  • Local Engagement

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

  • Convene
  • Facilitate
  • Create


“Influence" Video | Reflection on Reading & Civic Literacy Assessment | Civic Literacy Reading | Civic Literacy Assessment Part 2 | Post Ideas for final project | Begin my Rolodex

Week Three

CLOs #3, #4

Federal Government: More than the President

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

State Government:

  • How to get your opinion heard
  • State Representatives


State & Federal Government Video | Build a resource list-myRolodex | Reflection on Reading & Civic Literacy Part 2 | Final Project Work |

Week Four

CLOs #1,#2,#3,#4

Peer Presentation of Final Projects & myRolodex


Submit final project | Submit myRolodex | Discuss Final Project with Group | Discuss myRolodex with Group |