Forest History Syllabus

Spring 2000 University of Washington, Tacoma
TCSIIN 439 8:30-10:35 AM GWP 101
Michael Kucher <>
Phone: (253) 692-4468 (but email is usually faster)
Fax: (253) 692-5612
Office hours: immediately after class in the UWT Library Reference Area or by appointment.
Course URL:

This is a seminar on Forest History and Deforestation. The course will focus on forests in the western hemisphere from ancient Mesopotamia to the Pacific Northwest. Diligent reading, careful analysis, and thoughtful interpretation--presented through quality writing--will be essential features of the course. The emphasis in particular will be on interpretation of primary sources and their integration with secondary materials. Together we will strive for the highest quality of written work through a combination of peer review and re-writing multiple drafts of each paper. The importance of carefully crafted writing in the course can be seen in the choice of required texts and in the grading system.

Required books (available at the University Bookstore):

Course Highlights:
Grading and Evaluation:
Class Participation, Preparation, & Shorter Presentations  30%
Essay  #1 (2-3 pp.)  10%
Essay  #2 (2-3 pp.)  10%
Essay # 3 (2-3 pp.) 10%
Essay # 4 (2-3 pp.) 10%
Final Paper and Presentation (10-15 pp.) 30%

NB: Because this course meets the "W" writing requirement, each written assignment will be given two grades of equal weight: one for the quality of the writing, the other for the paper's content. (If there is no discrepancy between the quality of the writing and of the content, you will see only one combined grade on your papers.) Exceptional work will earn an A; work above average a B; average work a C; below average a D. Work that fails to meet minimum standards for written work or which is not turned in will yield an F. The take-home essay will cover all readings, discussions, and presentations. You are responsible for finding out from other students what happened during any class you miss.

Class Preparation and Participation This is not a lecture course. The success of the class for each student will depend on how well he or she is prepared and to what extent each student contributes to furthering the class discussion. The quality of preparation and participation will be as important as the quantity.  Coming to class unprepared will count as an absence. If I notice a lot of students are unprepared any week I may offer a pop quiz on the material covered to date.

Assignments Three essays in which you analyze the author's work and place your reading of the primary sources in the context of the book or article you have chosen to review. Each of which will be accompanied by a 5-minute oral presentation to the class.

All assignments will be graded for clarity of composition and grammar as well as content. All assignments must be typed, double-spaced, with at least one-inch margins, in a 12-point Roman typeface, with serifs. Sources will be cited in footnotes or endnotes using A to Z. If you have any doubts about format you may also consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. (available in the UWT Library on the Writing Resources Shelf ) or contact the UWT Writing Center at uwtwrite@u. All assignments must be turned in on time. Late assignments will be dropped 0.1 grade point for each day late, except in extreme circumstances (death certificates must be notarized copies with raised seals). No extensions will be granted except for a written medical excuse presented before the due date of the assignment. Finally, all assignments must be delivered on hard copy or as ASCII text. DO NOT ATTACH WORD OR OTHER DOCUMENTS TO YOUR E-MAIL.

General Evaluation of Written Work Writing effectively means more than writing clearly and concisely and using correct grammar. Excellent papers will meet all of the following criteria:

  1. The paper addresses all of the questions and issues posed in the assignment.
  2. The paper draws upon relevant readings and class discussions. The paper applies what you have been learning.
  3. The paper is thoroughly and properly documented.  Failure to fully document your work can result in a failing grade for the assignment and even the course.  Proper documentation forms the very foundation of all historical research.
  4. The paper adds your own insights to the analyses. The quality of your own ideas is important. Show your own independent thinking as much as possible.
  5. The scope of the paper is sufficiently narrow so that you are able to exhaust every source on the topic.
  6. The paper is convincing. You have the responsibility to justify your arguments. You must back up your points and conclusion. Support your argument by using evidence from the class readings or other sources. Use explicit examples to illustrate what you say. Do not assume anything on the part of the reader.
  7. The paper is well organized. It has an introduction with a thesis (argument), it has a body supporting this thesis, and it ends with a conclusion summarizing the main points.
  8. The paper has no spelling or grammatical errors.

Pace of the Course I have shifted a lot of the work to the beginning and the middle of the quarter. I have done this in response to student comments about how difficult it is to have all your courses demanding work in the final two weeks. You will be able to sit back after the ninth week and focus on your other courses and finals because I have scheduled nothing for finals week. If you have kept up with all the reading, class discussions, and assignments the take-home essay will be a breeze. If not, well, don't even consider the possibility.

Plagiarism = Academic and Career Suicide.  Attempts at plagiarism or other academic misconduct will be reported to the Dean's office and treated as per the UW Code of Conduct.  Convictions for plagiarism can result in dismissal from the university.  "Although the prospect of dismissal may seem the most serious consequence of dishonesty, there are others. If you apply to a medical, law, or other professional school, you may be required to provide  a statement from the Vice President for Student Affairs attesting to your good conduct. Furthermore, the process of being brought up on charges of dishonesty-of having one's character and integrity   questioned-is invariably a deeply embarrassing and troubling experience for a student, one that leaves a painful memory." (  More information regarding UW policies can be found at:

Grade Grubbing The only possible reason for questioning a grade is if you think the professor made a mathematical error (which does happen). Otherwise, all grades are final. Goods grades are never given--they are earned through what Winston Churchill called, "Blood, toil, tears, and sweat." (13 May, 1940). If you are studying for this course between 15 and 20 hours a week (3-4 HOURS PER CREDIT HOUR) and still only getting a C or a D, please come talk to me about how to improve your work.


Multiple submissions:  If you want to make a multiple submission of any writing assignment, you must clear it in advance with both professors involved.

If you choose to drop the course, you are responsible for reporting the change to the registrar's office. If you stop coming to class and do not contact the registrar, you will end up receiving a failing grade even if you attended only once.

If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a permanent or temporary physical, sensory, psychological/emotional or learning disability, please contact Lisa Tice, counselor for Disability Support Services (DSS). An appointment can be made through the front desk of Student Affairs (692-4400), by phoning Lisa directly at 692-4493 (voice),
692-4413 (TDD), or by e-mail ( Appropriate accommodations are arranged after you've presented the required documentation of your disability to DSS, and you have conferred with the DSS counselor.

"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech. . . ."

The right to free speech applies in our classroom as well as in your written work. In light of the potentially controversial topics we will be studying, let me assure you that you will not be graded on your opinions, but on the quality of the evidence and the cogency the argument with which you support your position.

© Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 Michael Kucher   Revised: 26 March  2000

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