CMN 205

Communication, Culture, and Community

Spring 2007


Dr. Daniel Makagon                                                              

Office: SAC 596

Office Hours: Wednesday 1:00-2:00

Phone: (773) 325-7376


home page:



Course Objectives


This course examines relationships among culture, communication, institutions, and public and private life. We will explore the various ways in which people gather to form community, the role of public space in community and public life, and the challenges people face as they try to come together. Second, we will critically examine questions of commitment and participation; place and identity; and issues of class, gender, race, and ethnicity as they are inflected in various dimensions of contemporary community conflict and cohesiveness. Finally, the course will provide a context where students can experientially explore the practical, ethical, and moral problems that arise in contemporary community life through service learning.


CMN 205 course fulfills the Junior Year Experiential Learning Requirement. The experiential learning requirement engages students in the first-hand discovery of knowledge through observation and participation in activities in an unpredictable setting, usually (but not exclusively) off-campus. Students are asked to reflect on what they have learned about themselves, others, and a larger social context given the connection between course content and their experience. To do this, they may have contact with a community, an international setting, a workforce environment, or take on a role in the classroom or laboratory that is substantively different than that of student, such as model the professional behavior of a researcher or teacher.


You are required to complete 25 hours of volunteer work (which includes training if training is needed) during the quarter. If you do not complete those hours then you have not completed the course (i.e., you will receive an "F" in the class).


Required Texts


All course readings are available on-line at



Course Assignments


Class participation                                                                 10%

Quizzes                                                                                   30%

Mid-term Essay (4-6 pages)                                                  30%

Final Journal                                                                           30%



You are required to complete the reading assignments before you attend class. This will lead to more fruitful discussion.



The Mid-Term paper should serve as a think piece on volunteer service and community life more generally. This assignment asks you to write an analysis that grows from your engagement with course material. The objective of this paper is to assess relationships among volunteer work, community, and public life. In general, you should develop a thesis that considers these questions: a) "What have I learned about community?" b) "What is the value of community participation on the public and private level?" and c) "How does volunteerism help shape community and public life?" This paper requires you provide more than a description of your experiences. You need to write an essay that establishes a claim about the relationship between service work and community life. This assignment is truly a mid-term in that it asks you to stay within the texts to ground your claims rather than asking you to do outside research. This paper is due on April 30 in class.


Each member of the class will keep a journal. Your journal should consist of one of the following (or some combination):


(a) An entry focusing on your reflections about the material you've read for class that week. For example, you can write questions you want to raise in our class discussion, disputes you have with the author(s), or general comments about the text.


(b) An entry describing your volunteer work for the week. What did you do as a volunteer? What happened at the service organization that week? How does it feel to work there as a volunteer? These entries should be considered as fieldnotes and will contribute to your final analysis paper at the end of the semester. If you do not volunteer during certain weeks then use the second entry to reflect on the relationships between the reading and your volunteer work. How does the reading help you understand your volunteer work in general? How does your volunteer work alter/stretch/challenge the theories advanced in the reading?


All of the entries should be at least two (2) pages in length (typed and double-spaced) and should be written in essay form rather than as a collection of random thoughts or free-floating sentences/bullet points. Always keep your journal up to date and bring it to each class meeting. I may collect them at any time during the semester. If you do not have your journal, you will not receive credit for your journal at that time.


I will grade your journal each time it is collected, and factor that grade (5% each time) toward your total grade. If you do not turn in a journal until the end of the term, or the journal is very incomplete when you do submit it, there will be no way to earn an "A" for this portion of your grade. At the end of the semester I will give you an overall grade for your journal, which will consider improvement made throughout the semester. Your complete and final journal is due June 11th by 3:30 PM.


Pop quizzes will feature a mix of short answer and multiple-choice questions. The quizzes will allow me to gauge how well you understand the arguments made in the readings. Unlike your papers and class discussion, where I am interested in your opinions about the issues and the strength of the writer's argument(s), the quizzes are designed for you to state the author's argument only. In other words, I am not striving to understand what you think about the issues; rather, I am interested in how well you understand the construction of the author's argument. If we do not understand what s/he's saying then our critique of her/his work will not be properly grounded. Possible points for each quiz question will be listed after the question (usually 10 or 20 points per question for short answer 2-5 points per question for multiple choice). Answers will be graded based on your ability to clearly summarize the author's argument(s) and use examples from the reading to support your answer(s).


Participation grades are factored by considering how often you participate in class discussion and how that discussion advances our overall learning (i.e., I will consider how your questions help us understand difficult passages in course readings, how your contributions further discussion rather than hinder discussion, how your comments foster lively debate, how your participation grows from an engagement with the reading and college experience rather than functioning to advance an autobiographical tale only). In short, I consider quantity and quality of participation. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is excellent, you can expect an "A" for this portion of your grade. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is above average (i.e., you participate every other class rather than every class session), you can expect a "B" for this portion of your grade. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is average, you can expect a "C" for this portion of your grade. This grade will also be assigned for students who attend every class but do not participate in discussion or who refrain from asking questions. If you miss the most possible classes you can miss without failing the class and your participation level is average, you can expect a "D" for this portion of your grade.


Course Policies


Attendance and Active Participation are expected and required.


Promptness is expected as a general rule. If you are consistently late to class, your grade will be negatively affected.


If you miss more than two class sessions, you will receive an "F' in the class (even if the absences are excused). Missing this many class sessions undermines the integrity of the classroom experience. If you miss this much class because of illness or a family emergency, you should meet with the Dean of Students to discuss withdrawal options.


All assignments are due on assigned days and times. There will be NO MAKE UPS. Documented illnesses or documented emergencies are the only exception to this policy. Changes in work schedules, personal celebrations (e.g., birthdays), or vacations are NOT considered to be legitimate reasons for missing assignment deadlines or class meetings. If you miss a quiz and have documentation for your absence then you will take the quiz on the next date you attend class.


If you know that you will be missing a class because of a religious holiday or an official school function, let me know in writing at least two weeks before the absence so we can make arrangements to make up missed work.


Students with disabilities should provide me with documentation from the Office of Students with Disabilities.


If you have a cellular phone or pager, turn it off or set it to vibrate. Plagiarism will be discussed below but for now you should note that all cell phones must be put away during quizzes and you should not be sending or reading text messages during class sessions. Unless you use a laptop to take notes, there is no reason to bring a laptop to this class.


Please make sure my e-mail address is listed on your approved list if you are using a commercial e-mail provider.




I have often found that plagiarism becomes tempting if students are feeling pressured. Remember, when in doubt quote. If you are quoting somebody directly then you need to list the information within quotation marks and cite a page number. If you are paraphrasing then you need to cite the person and a page number. Never copy and paste entire documents into your paper and do not quote others to the point where your ideas become indistinguishable from your source's ideas. There is no reason to plagiarize given the resources available to you (e.g., opportunities to meet with me; coaches in the writing center; my handout on writing for the class; and DePaul's policy on academic integrity available at If you do plagiarize, you will automatically receive a grade of "F" in this class. Moreover, the Academic Affairs office will be contacted.



Grade Scale


93-100 A, 90-92 A-, 88-89 B+, 83-87 B, 80-82 B-, 78-79 C+, 73-77 C, 70-72 C-, 60-69 D,

0-59 F