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Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 

This is a co-convened course combining both graduate students (517) and undergraduate students (417). There are no course prerequisites.

Course Description: 

Culture has been defined as the “acts and activities shared by groups of people and expressed in social engagements that occur in their daily activities” (Overall 2009). So defined, cultures extend beyond ethnicity, to groups of people who share common experiences of gender, sexual orientation, disability status, class, and age.

Many of us now live in a intersecting digital cultures. Digital content has become an integral part of our personal, professional, economic, and political activities—we interact with others via e-mail, text messaging, and social networking sites; we shop and do our jobs over the internet; we learn about politics from surfing the web or voice our opinions by commenting on posts or blogging. New digital information technologies such as the internet, cell phones, and databases are undoubtedly transforming our culture(s), but our cultures also shape how we engage with these technologies. This course explores the dynamic interplay between culture and digital technology.

We will approach these issues from a multidisciplinary perspective, looking at the insights into digital cultures that can be provided by such areas of inquiry as history, communications, sociology, feminist theory, information science, and philosophy. 

The course will not only critically analyze new digital information technologies, it will use such technologies to deliver the course—providing opportunities for active reflection on the ways in which digital technologies shape learning and social interaction.

Sample Topics Covered: 

  • Previous information technology revolutions (e.g., the printing press), their transformative impact on cultures, and the cultural influences on their reception and use.
  • The "digital divide," its multpile types, causes, and solutions.
  • The impact on and transformative use of digtal culture by diverse populations--e.g., the LGBT community, disabled persons, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities.
  • New cultures and identities formed through digital interaction--e.g., gamers, hackers, trolls.

Course Objective: 

Students will 

  • Be equipped  with the conceptual tools to
    • Understand, engage, and critique the evolving set of digital cultures in which we live.
    • Understand the interplay between culture(s) and digital technologies.
    • Understand how technologies both constrain and enable human activity
  • Learn how to
    • Analyze how systems create cultures of inclusion and exclusion.
    • Identify unmet information needs. 
    • Create content that reflects an awareness of cultural context(s).
  • This course addresses the following SIRLS Competencies:
    • A3) Students will demonstrate understanding of the use of information and communication technologies including social aspects of information in providing information resources and services in libraries and other information environments.

    • C8) Students will demonstrate an understanding of how diversity contributes to the library and information professions and analyze information issues from diverse perspectives.

      C9) Students will demonstrate an understanding of the values and service orientation of the library and information professions and their applications in their areas of career interest.

Required Course Materials: 

The textbook for this course is Miller, Vincent (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. Sage Publications.  

Other course materials will be availabe in d2l.

Readings will include selections from books and articles such as,

  • Winner, Langdon. "Do artifacts have politics?." Daedalus 109.1 (1980): 121-136.
  • Moser, Ingunn. "Disability and the promises of technology: Technology, subjectivity and embodiment within an order of the normal." Information, Communication & Society 9.3 (2006): 373-395.
  • Dobransky, Kerry, and Eszter Hargittai. "The disability divide in Internet access and use." Information, Communication & Society 9.3 (2006): 313-334.
  • Brown, Deidre, and George Nicholas. "Protecting indigenous cultural property in the age of digital democracy: Institutional and communal responses to Canadian First Nations and Māori heritage concerns." Journal of Material Culture 17.3 (2012): 307-324.
  • Klein, Adam. "Slipping Racism into the Mainstream: A Theory of Information Laundering." Communication Theory 22.4 (2012): 427-448.
  • Friedman, Elisabeth Jay. "Lesbians in (cyber) space: the politics of the internet in Latin American on-and off-line communities." Media, Culture & Society 29.5 (2007): 790-811.

Course Requirements: 

Course Discussion--Regular, active, and substantive engagement in on-line course blog discussion is required. 

Quizzes--There will be occasional quizzes on the key course concepts from the readings and blog posts. 

Blog Post--Students will be asked to be a "guest blogger" on the course blog once during the semester. Students are allowed to choose the topic of their blog post in consultation with the instructor. Students will then facilitate the discussion of their post. The third/second post will be a summary of their final project. 

Final Project/Paper—Students will research the information needs of a particular group and write a 5-8 page report discussing how some information service (e.g., public library, Google, New York Times, Wikipedia) could better serve the members of this group. Students will select the group and the information service in consultation with the instructor. 


All written work and course communications (including blog and discussion posts) will be evaluated for format, organization, style, grammar, and punctuation as well as content and argument.

The instructions for course assignments as well as a set of expectations for discussions will be posted on D2L by the end of the first week of instruction. 

Course Grading: 

Undergraduate Students

Discussion Participation 25

Quizzes 20

Guest Blog Post 20

Final Project/Paper 35



Grading Scale

 90-100 = A “exemplary, far beyond reqs/expectations”

 80-89 = B “exceeds requirements/expectations”

 70-79 = C “meets requirements/expectations”

 60-99 = D “falls short of requirements/expectations”

 Below 59 = F “repeat of course needed”

Course Policies: 


Attendance Policies:

All students  are required to check into d2l and the course blog at least 5 days a week, to actively participate in online discussions, and to do the assigned readings for each week prior by Wednesday of the week in which they are assigned. 

Discussion Policies:

Given that this is a safe environment for sharing and generating unique ideas, please try to be “open” to diverse perspectives and learn from others who may pose views that differ from your own. When sharing your own ideas, do not subject others to inappropriate language or problematic assumptions about social groups. In addition, use appropriate academic/professional language, avoid slang and carefully proofread your posts. 

Academic Code of Integrity:

Students are expected to abide by the University of Arizona’s Code of Academic Integrity.  See:  

The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student’s submitted work must be the student’s own.  Do not copy another student’s work, pull text from online sources, or turn in the same work for this class that you have used in another class.  All work turned in must be original and specific to this course.  Students who violate the UA Code of Academic Integrity are subject to disciplinary penalties (e.g., failing grade or removal from the University).  Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials.  However, graded work must be the product of independent effort, unless otherwise instructed (as in the case of the Group Presentation).  If you have any questions regarding what is acceptable practice under the UA Code of Academic Integrity, please ask me (the instructor).

Accommodating Disabilities:

Arrangements can be made if you have a physical challenge or condition that could impair your participation and/or performance in this course.  If you anticipate the need for reasonable accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must register with the Disability Resource Center and request that the DRC send me (the instructor), official notification of your accommodation needs as soon as possible.  See:

Please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.  The need for accommodations must be documented by the DRC.

Incomplete Policy:

The grade of I may be awarded only at the end of a semester, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed.  The grade of I is not to be awarded when the student is expected to repeat the course; in such a case the grade of E must be assigned.  Students should make arrangements with me (the instructor) to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the semester.  If the incomplete is not removed within one year, the I grade will revert to a failing grade.  See

Additional Policies:

The Arizona Board of Regents’ Student Code of Conduct, ABOR Policy 5-308, prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to one’s self.  See:

All student records will be managed and held confidentially.  See:

Information contained in this course syllabus, other than the grade and participation policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences