Course Policies

Learning Objectives

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a “community of inquiry” by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will:

  • critically analyze information and ideas in the texts we discuss;
  • examine issues from multiple perspectives;
  • discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one’s own views, with clarity and reason;
  • learn to find, evaluate, and correctly incorporate outside sources so as to avoid plagiarism;
  • create clear academic writing.

Attendance & Participation

Class attendance and participation are both required.  Students who miss class for sickness or any other unexpected reason should email an explanation along with some thoughtful comments about the reading assignment.  They should send these comments within a week of their absence.  There is no need for providing formal excuses from someone else (parent, nurse, etc.).  If you know in advance that you will miss class (for job interviews, sporting events, etc.), you need to ask permission in advance by email.  Also, those who attend class but do not participate should try to email comments afterward.  Such post-class commentary can still help your participation evaluation.  All students are also required to email comments after attending required outside lectures. More than two unexcused absences or latenesses will result in a reduction in participation grades.  Repeated unexcused absences or latenesses can also result in course failure.


No personal electronic devices such as phones, tablets or laptops can be used in this class except in rare cases with special permission in advance from Prof. Pinsker.

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

Dickinson values diverse types of learners and is committed to ensuring that each student is afforded equitable access to participate in all learning experiences. If you have (or think you may have) a learning difference or a disability – including a mental health, medical, or physical impairment – that would hinder your access to learning or demonstrating knowledge in this class, please contact Access and Disability Services (ADS).  They will confidentially explain the accommodation request process and the type of documentation that Dean and Director Marni Jones will need to determine your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. To learn more about available supports, go to, email, call (717)245-1734, or go to ADS in Old West (lower level), Room 005.

Writing Center

All students in the seminar MUST visit the Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center at least once before the end of the semester.  Writers of all levels and abilities need feedback in order to develop their ideas and grow as writers.  Dickinson’s trained writing tutors can help you generate ideas, begin drafting, revise a rough draft, figure out your professor’s preferred documentation style, understand and respond to professor feedback, edit your writing – among other things.  You can walk in (at the college library) or call to make an appointment at (717) 717-245-1620 (or 717-245-1767 for foreign language writing).  For more information about hours and procedures, visit the center website.


From Dickinson College Community Standards (adopted 2006):

To plagiarize is to use without proper citation or acknowledgment the words, ideas, or work of another.  Plagiarism is a form of cheating that refers to several types of unacknowledged borrowing.

  • The most serious degree of plagiarism involves the wholesale and deceptive borrowing of written material from sources such as published authors, web sites, other students, or paper-for-hire services.  Students who submit papers or significant sections of papers that they did not write themselves are committing this type of violation.


  • Another serious degree of plagiarism involves less wholesale but still repeated and inappropriate borrowing from outside sources.  In some of these cases, students borrow several phrases or sentences from others, and do so without both quotation marks and proper attributions.  In other cases, students secretly collaborate on assignments in defiance of specific prohibitions outlined by their instructor.


  • Finally, there is a degree of plagiarism that involves the borrowing of specific words or phrases without quotation marks. In such cases, citations may be present, but they are inadequate. This problem most commonly occurs when students paraphrase sources by attempting to change a few words in a sentence or brief series of sentences.  It can also occur when students rely too heavily on parents or friends for ideas or phrases which they mistakenly claim as their own.