Teaching Trump: The Rise of the Crowd-Sourced Syllabus

by: Ellen C. Caldwell
for JSTOR Daily

In 2014, following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Dr. Marcia Chatelain started the #FergusonSyllabus movement to help explain the history behind the protests over police misconduct and the birth of the Black Lives Matter Movement sweeping the nation. Since then, a slew of similarly inspired syllabi have popped up as online resources for both educators and readers looking for background information about complex current events.

Some of the more well-known syllabi include, but are not limited to, the Charleston Syllabus(following the terrorist shootings at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC), the Black Lives Matter Syllabus (highlighting the history of the movement), the Native Lives Matter Syllabus (in celebration of Indigenous People’s Day), and The Standing Rock Syllabus (in response to the the continuing movement and growing protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock).

But what is the purpose of all this? Jay Parkes and Mary B. Harris explored just this in a 2002 study in which they argued that the purpose of a syllabus was ultimately to drive content. Parkes and Harris also noted that a syllabus generally serves three functions, acting as a contract, permanent record, and learning tool…

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