Civics and Attendance


  • 2 unexcused absences will drop your grade ½ letter grade
  • 3 unexcused absences will drop your grade 1 letter grade
  • Additional absences will continue to lower your grade by full letter steps.
  • 3 late arrivals/early departures (10 minutes or more) = 1 absence
  • More than 30 minutes late = full absence

Attendance to all classes and class-related activities is expected. You are responsible for what happens in class whether you’re here or not. Organize with your classmates to get class information and materials you have missed.

Expected absences: Within the first week of our course, please look ahead and see if you need to miss class for any excusable reason (religious holidays, CMU-sponsored events, medical or family emergencies, etc.) and email me

Illness: Let me know before class if you are ill and must miss class. I can be very understanding and accommodating about medical issues when you inform me in a timely and professional manner.

Mental presence and social media. Physical and virtual presence means nothing if you’re “checked out”; your mental presence is paramount. During the professor’s lectures or guest presentations, open laptops and social media are prohibited. You can exist for few hours without tweeting, facebooking, chatting, texting, emailing. Any laptop or phone for social media, texting, etc. is banned during lectures, critiques and group discussion, unless specifically allowed/requested by the professors.

Critique Days: Your presence is especially important on critique days. Sometimes students who have not completed their projects think that missing class is better than coming empty handed. This is the wrong assumption! Your participation on critique days is essential, regardless of whether or not your project is complete. Critique sessions and conversations help you understand our class standards, expectations, and criteria for good work. Even if your own project is unfinished, you are still expected to contribute productively to the class discussion.


  • Full presence in class each week. 
  • Commitment to the well being of the class community. 
  • Use computer technology professionally. 
  • Completion of all assignments and readings.
  • Participation in class discussions, workshops, field trips and critiques.
  • Preparedness/Bringing necessary materials to each class.
  • At least 6 hours of work time outside of class each week. 
  • Use of safe and respectful studio and online practices and protocols. 
  • Care for yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This can help you cope with stress, but all of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help 24/7: call (412) 268- 2922 or visit their website. Over 25% of students reach out to CaPS sometime during their time at CMU.


  • Be accessible. I will hold regularly scheduled office hours each week. You can find those details on top page of the syllabus. If your academic or job schedule does not allow you to come to my office hours and you are in need of a meeting, please email me so we can set something up.
  • Quickly respond to emails. I will respond to emails within 48 hours, usually within 24 hours, Monday – Friday. 
  • Promptly return grades and feedback.  Your grades will be made available to you via Canvas, within 2 weeks of presenting the work. This will allow you to monitor your grade throughout the semester.
  • Solicit student feedback. I constantly strive to improve my ability to teach. You should feel free to email me your feedback at any time. I hope that you will provide your candid and constructive comments.
  • Help to provide necessary accommodations. If you have a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, I encourage you to discuss your accommodations and needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at

(Credit: Much of the above has been adapted from syllabi by other professors, including: Golan Levin, Chris McComb, and Valeksa Populoh.)