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Social Science & the American Crime Problem: An Open Online Course

CRJU 2200, Georgia State University | Last updated for Spring 2023

Published onJan 09, 2023
Social Science & the American Crime Problem: An Open Online Course

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This document is a broad overview of Social Science & the American Crime Problem, as taught by Scott Jacques, at Georgia State University. The course is themed as a book club. Students read, annotate, discuss, and reflect on six books. Each book illuminates the development, persistence, and change of social, historical, political, economic, and/or spatial patterns in the American crime problem, including control of it. Each book is open access, so free for everyone. This document is open access, too. The course work is done on Perusall, a teaching software program that is free to everyone (but not open access per se). The course emphasizes no-cost learning and open educational resources (OER) for two reasons: to increase student success by eliminating the cost of textbooks; and, to increase the course’s impact by enabling other instructors to use or adapt it. The first outcome will boost students’ “return-on-investment” (ROI), the second will boost that of instructors. In addition, the course emphasizes Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILTed), especially clear and fair evaluation. After an introduction to the course, the rest of this document presents information on each book, the six of which we use to structure the course, prior to a conclusion module. The course syllabus is at the end of this document. In the future (i.e., after initially publishing this document), the plan is to improve the course in two ways: undergo a Quality Matters assessment (or equivalent) to identify areas for improvement; and, add an appendix with information for instructors who want to use or adapt this course. These updates will be published in this document. If you would like to suggest improvements, you are encouraged to share them as you see fit. I thank students for their formal evaluations and informal feedback, which I use to improve the course.

0. Introduction

Work due 1/20 at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Welcome to the course, Social Science & the American Crime Problem (CRJU 2200), at Georgia State University (GSU). It is delivered by the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, part of the The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Per the GSU undergraduate catalog, “This course provides a broad theoretical and empirical overview of the American crime problem. Exploring crime from a social science perspective, the course develops a survey understanding of how the patterned influence of social institutions (family, government, schools), subcultures, and the psychology of everyday life come together to shape how society defines, organizes, and responds to crime.” As an Area E course in the University System of Georgia (USG), there is an emphasis on the development, persistence, and change of social, historical, political, economic, and spatial patterns. To begin the course, familiarize yourself with this document. The rest of this Introduction section describes and explains notable features of the course. After, there are sections devoted to each (text)book, followed by the syllabus.

The learning materials are open educational resources

This course is taught by several instructors at GSU, all of whom put their own spin on it. The version before you is mine. It aims to be one big open educational resource (OER): a package of learning materials that are “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”1 The goals are to increase, one, student success by removing a cost-barrier to knowledge, and, two, the course’s impact by enabling other instructors to use and adapt it, according to the CC BY 4.0 license. What parts of this course are OER? The course itself—everything on this page; and, the six books that serve as our “readings.” Below, they are listed in alphabetical order (not their order of use).

To be clear, you do not need to buy these books because their electronic versions are free. I already uploaded them in Perusall (see below).

Our course is a book club

We will read, annotate, discuss, and reflect on the above books, each of which sheds light on the American crime problem. In a sense, we are a “book club.” These are several educational benefits to participating. From reading, you improve your vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension; you gain information, knowledge, and understanding. From annotating, discussing, and reflecting, you become a better (critical) thinker, writer, and communicator. Examples of these positive effects are in The Maximum Security Book ClubThe Prison Book Club, and The Soul Knows No Bars. If you need inspiration, an article with humorous but useful tips is 9 Tricks to Look Smart in a Book Club.

We meet on Perusall

Work for this course is done and graded on Perusall, a platform to “Amplify student engagement, collaboration, and community with the social annotation platform that works with all types of content, including books.” Though Perusall is not OER per se, it is free for students and instructors to use. We will use it to collectively read and annotate books, discuss our thoughts, and write out reflections. All work is done on Perusall, but you must always access the platform via our iCollege homepage (or your grades will not transfer).

We have scheduled, repeating learning activities

We focus on one book every two weeks. With each book, we have the same sequence of activities: read, annotate, discuss, reflect. The work is consistent so you can focus on the lessons. The workload is manageable, if you budget your time well. Everyone processes information at different speeds, so you will have to figure out for yourself how much time it takes. As a general rule, a 3 credit hour course should require 7-8 hours of work per week (in a fall/spring semester). For each book, here is the how your work should unfold:

  1. During the first week, read and form your own thoughts. In Perusall, you will see instructions for “critical reading questions.”

  2. By the end of the first week, annotate the reading. You will see instructions for “annotation themes.”

  3. During the second week, discuss the reading with your classmates. You will see instructions for “discussion themes.”

  4. Each module wraps up with a reflection “quiz.” Answers should reflect your personal experience and opinions, albeit those informed by the book’s information and knowledge. Each answer should be at least 100 words.

Below is the course organization along with due dates and times, but be aware of the grace period. For each book and this Introduction, you should complete the annotation, discussion, and reflection quiz on Perusall.

Time span



Weeks 1-2

0. Introduction

1/20 5:00 p.m.

Weeks 3-4

1. Sexual Consent

2/3 5:00 p.m.

Weeks 5-6

2. Prison of Democracy

2/17 5:00 p.m.

Weeks 7-8

3. Mirage of Police Reform

3/3 5:00 p.m.

Weeks 9-10

4. Precarious Claims

3/24 5:00 p.m.

Weeks 11-12

5. Borders as Infrastructure

4/7 5:00 p.m.

Weeks 13-14

6. Command and Persuade

4/21 5:00 p.m.

Week 15

7. Conclusion

4/28 5:00 p.m.

There is transparent grading

In addition to OER, this course emphasizes Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILTed). Your work is scored through the Perusall algorithm based on predetermined scoring metrics and percentages, as shown below. Using this tool ensures that all students are objectively evaluated based on the same standards. Your “credit” is determined on an all-or-none basis, meaning you will either receive full points or no points for each assignment. You will receive full credit—in Perusall and automatically synced with iCollege—once you reach or exceed 100% on an assignment, as auto-graded by Perusall. Until you reach 100%, your score will be a 0 in Perusall and in iCollege; no partial credit is given. It is possible to reach 145% because the scoring metrics add up to this amount; see the table, below. This gives you some discretion in where to focus your efforts. Generally speaking, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers here, though they should be informed by the readings. The only rules are you must (1) seriously interact with the readings and your peers, (2) not quote, but rather always use your own words, and (3) behave with academic integrity. Breaking the rules is punished with a score of zero on the assignment, and, for the third rule, possibly other sanctions; for details, see in the syllabus, Academic Integrity. More information about performance and evaluation is in the syllabus here.

Scoring metric

% of Total Score

How to earn full credit

Annotation content*


Submit 7 high quality comments*

Opening assignment


Open the assignment 5 times

Reading to the end


Access each page or section of the document

Active engagement time


Spend 100 minutes actively engaging with the content

Getting Responses


Post 3 comments that elicit responses from their classmates



Upvote 10 classmate comments or  receive 5 upvotes



* Responses that are distributed unevenly throughout the content will receive a 10% penalty. Students are allowed to submit comments for partial credit for 5 months after the deadline. Credit declines linearly.

Let’s practice Perusall

After you read this document, go to our course’s homepage on iCollege and click the link for “Introduction -- Annotation and discussion,” which will bring you to a copy of this document in Perusall. To get practice with the platform, and get a stronger sense of this course, you will read, annotate, discuss, and reflect on this document. You do the reflection last, accessing the assignment via a separate link on our iCollege homepage: “Introduction -- Reflection.” This work is graded; details in the syllabus section, Performance and evaluation. The scoring metrics are the same as those used for the books (see the above table), but you only do ~half as much (e.g., 50 instead of 100 minutes for active engagement time; submit 3 instead of 7 high quality comments).

1. Sexual Consent

Work due 2/3 at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Why this book

We begin the course with Sexual Consent, by Milena Popova. This may seem like a strange selection, so let us tell you the backstory. In an earlier version of this course, there was a module on "Sex," with books about rape, pedophiles, sex trafficking, and prostitution. It was the fourth book, to be exact. When the time came, students emailed me to say they had been sexually assaulted in the past, explaining how this affected them and their ability to study. Obviously this is heartbreaking. A big part of the American crime problem is sexual assault. Among college students, it probably causes more harm than any other offense. It is hard to know because, understandably, many victims are reluctant to talk about it. So when I saw Sexual Consent is open access, I decided to assign it from the start so the lessons can be used ASAP.


The #MeToo movement has focused public attention on the issue of sexual consent. People of all genders, from all walks of life, have stepped forward to tell their stories of sexual harassment and violation. In a predictable backlash, others have taken to mass media to inquire plaintively if “flirting” is now forbidden. This volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series offers a nuanced introduction to sexual consent by a writer who is both a scholar and an activist on this issue. It has become clear from discussions of the recent high-profile cases of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and others that there is no clear agreement over what constitutes consent or non-consent and how they are expressed and perceived in sexual situations. This book presents key strands of feminist thought on the subject of sexual consent from across academic and activist communities and covers the history of research on consent in such fields as psychology and feminist legal studies. It discusses how sexual consent is negotiated in practice, from “No means no” to “Yes means yes,” and describes what factors might limit individual agency in such negotiations. It examines how popular culture, including pornography, romance fiction, and sex advice manuals, shapes our ideas of consent; explores the communities at the forefront of consent activism; and considers what meaningful social change in this area might look like. Going beyond the conventional cisgender, heterosexual norm, the book lists additional resources for those seeking to improve their practice of consent, survivors of sexual violence, and readers who want to understand contemporary debates on this issue in more depth.

Pay special attention

While reading, pay special attention to social patterns in sexual assault and its control, especially how those patterns develop, persist, and change. Think about how and why social factors (e.g., cultures, institutions) are evident in the motives, processes, and consequences of sexual assault. 

Learning outcomes

After completing this module’s learning activities, you should be able to:

  1. Define the features of sexual assault.

  2. Identify different types of sexual assault.

  3. Identify different types of control as relates to sexual assault.

  4. Analyze social patterns in sexual assault.

  5. Analyze social patterns in the control of sexual assault. 

2. Prison of democracy

Work due 2/17 at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Why this book

The next book is Sara Benson's The Prison of Democracy: Race, Leavenworth, and the Culture of Law. The first selection (Sexual Assault) shows the American crime problem is not a distant phenomenon, but in our homes and on our college campuses. With the second book, we go the opposite direction: back in time more than a hundred years, to a very different type of campus: that of a prison, namely Leavenworth Penitentiary on the Kansas/Missouri border. We must know history to understand the present and predict or improve the future. From a social science perspective, the “beauty” of a prison is it makes control so visible. The layout of a prison is not random but, instead, reflects the societies in which they are constructed. Different times and places have varying views of crime and punishment, criminals and governments. As they change, they qualitatively reshape prison; altering its purpose, administration, and architecture of prison. Likewise, socio-historical changes affect the quantity of control, such as the number of prisons and prisoners. As you may know, the United States has the highest imprisonment rate of any country in the world. It has not always been like that.


Built in the 1890s at the center of the nation, Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary was designed specifically to be a replica of the US Capitol Building. But why? The Prison of Democracy explains the political significance of a prison built to mimic one of America’s monuments to democracy. Locating Leavenworth in memory, history, and law, the prison geographically sits at the borders of Indian Territory (1825–1854) and Bleeding Kansas (1854–1864), both sites of contestation over slavery and freedom. Author Sara M. Benson argues that Leavenworth reshaped the design of punishment in America by gradually normalizing state-inflicted violence against citizens. Leavenworth’s peculiar architecture illustrates the real roots of mass incarceration—as an explicitly race- and nation-building system that has been ingrained in the very fabric of US history rather than as part of a recent post-war racial history. The book sheds light on the truth of the painful relationship between the carceral state and democracy in the US—a relationship that thrives to this day.

Pay special attention

While reading, pay special attention to historical patterns in prison, especially how those patterns develop, persist, and change. Think about how and why temporal eras (i.e., chronological event spans, or years, distinguished by their events etc.) of prison design—purpose, administration, and architecture—are similar, different, why, and to what effect.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module’s learning activities, you should be able to:

  1. Define the features of prison.

  2. Identify different types of prison.

  3. Analyze the causes and consequences of prison.

  4. Explain and evaluate links between prison’s various purposes, administrative models, and architectural designs.

3. Mirage of police reform

Work due 3/3 at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Why this book

Our third book is Robert E. Worden and Sarah J. McLean's Mirage of Police Reform: Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy. Police bring offenders (e.g., people who commit sexual assault) to the court system, which sends them to prison, among other destinations. Police departments and officers have the power to police, you could say. Like prison, police have varying purposes, practices, and technologies (architectural and otherwise). At present, in historical perspective, the police have more power than ever. The public grants this power for its own protection. But "the public" is made up of many populations. Serving them, in toto and as segments, is a matter of politics and public affairs. Ideally, everyone finds themselves in a win-win position, but competing interests and zero-sum games are the reality of governance. “To protect and serve” is easier said than done, especially as the lines between “good guy” and “bad guy” dissipate. Some policing measures do more harm than good, despite the best intentions of police and the public that empowers them.


In the United States, the exercise of police authority—and the public’s trust that police authority is used properly—is a recurring concern. Contemporary prescriptions for police reform hold that the public would better trust the police and feel a greater obligation to comply and cooperate if police-citizen interactions were marked by higher levels of procedural justice by police. In this [module's] book, Robert E. Worden and Sarah J. McLean argue that the procedural justice model of reform is a mirage. From a distance, procedural justice seemingly offers a relief from strained police-community relations. But a closer look at police organizations and police-citizen interactions shows that the relief offered by such reform is, in fact, illusory.  A procedural justice model of policing is likely to be only loosely coupled with police practice, despite the best intentions, and improvements in procedural justice on the part of police are unlikely to result in corresponding improvements in citizens’ perceptions of procedural justice.

Pay special attention

While reading, pay special attention to political patterns in police/ing and authority more broadly, especially how those patterns develop, persist, and change. Think about how, why, and to what effect police/ing are shaped by shared and competing interests in government and public affairs.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module’s learning activities, you should be able to:

  1. Define the features of authority and police. 

  2. Identify different relationships between authority and policing.

  3. Analyze the causes and consequences of police.

  4. Explain and evaluate the reciprocal effects of authority and police.

4. Precarious claims

Work due 3/24 at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Why this book

With Shannon Gleeson's book, Precarious Claims: The Promise and Failure of Workplace Protections in the United States, we bring the course back to another “everyday” problem that receives less attention, and less control, than it deserves: employers victimizing their employees. Like sexual assault, work victimization is not always recognized as criminal. Despite causing substantial harm, work victimization gets perceived as “less serious” than stereotyped versions of robbery and burglary, for instance. This is generally true of “white collar crime”: that is nonviolent, financially motivated, and occurs in the context of legal business. Workers and companies are in conflict, just ask Karl Marx. Companies reap a bigger profit when they pay workers less. They save money by putting workers in harm’s way; by refusing to acknowledge wrongdoing; and, by minimizing financial compensation for victims. When something goes wrong on the job, what do employees do?


Precarious Claims tells the human story behind the bureaucratic process of fighting for justice in the U.S. workplace. The global economy has fueled vast concentrations of wealth that have driven a demand for cheap and flexible labor. Workplace violations such as wage theft, unsafe work environments, and discrimination are widespread in low-wage industries such as restaurants, retail, hospitality, and domestic work, where jobs are often held by immigrants and other vulnerable workers. Despite the challenges they face, these workers do seek justice. Why and how do they come forward, and what happens once they do? Based on extensive fieldwork in Northern California, Shannon Gleeson investigates the array of gatekeepers with whom workers must negotiate in the labor standards enforcement bureaucracy and, ultimately, the limited reach of formal legal protections. Gleeson also tracks how workplace injustices—and the arduous process of contesting them—have long-term effects on their everyday lives. Workers sometimes win, but their chances are precarious at best. 

Pay special attention

While reading, pay special attention to economic patterns in workplace victimization, protection, and legal remedies, especially how those patterns develop, persist, and change. Think about how and why those behaviors are shaped by the financial benefits/rewards and costs/risks for companies, workers, and others.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module’s learning activities, you should be able to:

  1. Define the features of workplace victimization.

  2. Identify different types of workplace victimization.

  3. Analyze the causes and consequences of workplace victimization.

  4. Explain and evaluate different efforts to prevent and remedy workplace victimization.

5. Borders as infrastructure

Work due 4/7at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Why this book

In this fifth module, we gain international perspective with Huub Dijstelbloem's Borders as Infrastructure: The Technopolitics of Border ControlBy definition, action is international when it occurs across countries, the realm of political geography. A border is an imaginary line in space, separating one sovereign territory from another. Border control amounts to letting the "right people" across the line, in either direction; stopping the rest; and, protecting everyone but, in reality, some people more than others. To the extent that nations work together in border control, they engage in international cooperation; against each other, international competition. Nations come into cooperation and competition for many reasons. Enemies can become bedfellows; neighbors into combatants. All of this has been complicated--in some ways improved, in others damaged--by technological revolutions, the most recent due to computers and the internet, which eviscerated physical borders with digital bridges, but that also give powerful new tools to those who control "our" borders. How and why are borders put up and maintained, taken down and evaded? (Ideally, we would read a book that more so puts the United States centerstage, but such a book has not been written, or at least not published open access.)


In Borders as Infrastructure, Huub Dijstelbloem brings science and technology studies, as well as the philosophy of technology, to the study of borders and international human mobility. Taking Europe's borders as a point of departure, he shows how borders can transform and multiply and how they can mark conflicts over international orders. Borders themselves are moving entities, he claims, and with them travel our notions of territory, authority, sovereignty, and jurisdiction. The philosophies of Bruno Latour and Peter Sloterdijk provide a framework for Dijstelbloem's discussion of the material and morphological nature of borders and border politics. Dijstelbloem offers detailed empirical investigations that focus on the so-called migrant crisis of 2014–2016 on the Greek Aegean Islands of Chios and Lesbos; the Europe surveillance system Eurosur; border patrols at sea; the rise of hotspots and “humanitarian borders”; the technopolitics of border control at Schiphol International Airport; and the countersurveillance by NGOs, activists, and artists who investigate infrastructural border violence. Throughout, Dijstelbloem explores technologies used in border control, including cameras, databases, fingerprinting, visual representations, fences, walls, and monitoring instruments. Borders can turn places, routes, and territories into “zones of death.” Dijstelbloem concludes that Europe's current relationship with borders renders borders—and Europe itself—an 'extreme infrastructure' obsessed with boundaries and limits.

Pay special attention

While reading, pay special attention to spatial patterns in border control, especially how those patterns develop, persist, and change. Think about how and why the geography of nations and people, crime and security affect who is allowed where, and how that is enforced.  

Learning outcomes

After completing this module’s learning activities, you should be able to:

  1. Define the features of border control.

  2. Identify different types of border control.

  3. Analyze the causes and consequences of border control.

  4. Explain and evaluate different efforts to control borders.

6. Command and persuade

Work due 4/21 at 5 pm; access it via iCollege.

Why this book

Our final book is Command and Persuade: Crime, Law, and the State across History, by Peter Baldwin.  This section culminates our exploration of analog crime and control. We started with sexual consent/assault, then went to imprisonment, policing, workplace victimization, and border control. This last book is more sweeping, intended as a general treatment of crime and control. Likewise, I want you to approach this book by "zooming out." Think "big ideas." Try to see what makes humans the same, and what divides us. These differences and similarities are social, historical, political, economical, and spatial. How are they generally patterned with crime and control? How have these patterns developed, persisted, and changed?


Levels of violent crime have been in a steady decline for centuries—for millennia, even. Over the past five hundred years, homicide rates have decreased a hundred-fold. We live in a time that is more orderly and peaceful than ever before in human history. Why, then, does fear of crime dominate modern politics? Why, when we have been largely socialized into good behavior, are there more laws that govern our behavior than ever before? In Command and Persuade, Peter Baldwin examines the evolution of the state's role in crime and punishment over three thousand years. Baldwin explains that the involvement of the state in law enforcement and crime prevention is relatively recent. In ancient Greece, those struck by lightning were assumed to have been punished by Zeus. In the Hebrew Bible, God was judge, jury, and prosecutor when Cain killed Abel. As the state's power as lawgiver grew, more laws governed behavior than ever before; the sum total of prohibited behavior has grown continuously. At the same time, as family, community, and church exerted their influences, we have become better behaved and more law-abiding. Even as the state stands as the socializer of last resort, it also defines through law the terrain on which we are schooled into acceptable behavior.

Pay special attention

In each of the previous modules, you were asked to pay special attention to patterns that are either social, historical, political, economic, or spatial. While reading this section, pay extra thought into their patterned connections, including how they develop, persist, and change. For example, what are the social features of different historic eras in crime and control? How do economic power and political power shape the spatial distribution of crime and control? Try to see the biggest picture possible, drawing lines between multiple spheres to see how they work together, or fail to work together, to control crime. 

Learning outcomes

After completing this module’s learning activities, you should be able to:

  1. Define the features of crime and a state.

  2. Identify different relationships between crime and a state.

  3. Analyze the consequences of state power for crime and control.

  4. Analyze the patterns between state power, crime, and factors that are social, historical, political, economic, and spatial.

7. Conclusion

No work due, but please do the online course evaluation. In Perusall, you have *midnight, May 2* to earn full credit on earlier assignments.

Congratulations on completing the course. I hope you learned a lot. Crime is everywhere; always has been. Crime and control in the United States is unique, but shares a lot in common with other countries, past and present. Protect yourself out there: not just in the streets, but also on the information superhighway. Speaking of which, you should consider taking the Digital Crime Problem (CRJU 3405), or even completing the Digital Criminology Minor. Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State University. After completing the course, please do the online course evaluation. Please be respectful when filling out your evaluation, as they really do matter and are read by many people. Thinking about your life after this semester, I hope you will consider joining another book club or starting your own. There are plenty of guides, my favorite being this one.2


Deviations may be necessary. See this note on authorship.3

CRJU 2200

CRN 15202 | Spring 2023 | Online, asynchronous

Instructor: Dr. Scott Jacques

Department: Criminal Justice & Criminology (404-413-1020), Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University

Course description

This course provides a broad theoretical and empirical overview of the American crime problem. Exploring crime from a social science perspective, the course develops a survey understanding of how the patterned influence of social institutions (family, government, schools), subcultures, and the psychology of everyday life come together to shape how society defines, organizes, and responds to crime.

Course goals

After finishing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define and identify types of the American crime problem.

  2. Distinguish between aspects of the American crime problem.

  3. Analyze the causes and consequences of the American crime and control.

  4. Critically evaluate theory, research, and policy on social scientific factors affecting crime and control.

  5. Direct their own learning by managing your time, motivating yourself, and engaging independently.

  6. Discover and act on their own curiosity by exploring topics in depth and connecting course topics to your own interests and goals.

Course requirements

This course has been designed to be a zero-cost course, but, as with any online course, you do need to make sure you have the technology to participate. See below for a list of required platforms we will be using in this course along with help resources to get you started.


This class uses iCollege for communication and some activities. Make sure you have the technology capable of working with iCollege: Review Recommended Technology.

Frequently asked questions about iCollege

How do I get started using iCollege? Since you made it to this course, you already know some basics about iCollege, like logging in and finding a course. The video above also provides a nice overview of the platform. Did you know you can also personalize your profile and change your account settings? If you haven't already reviewed your settings, go ahead and do that (especially your notification settings) so that you don't miss a thing.

What are the technology requirements for using iCollege? While iCollege can be accessed via a variety of devices, you will probably find a desktop or laptop computer to be the easiest way to view content and the most comfortable for extended learning sessions. While iCollege is compatible with most mobile devices for on the go learning, we do not recommend you use a mobile device as your primary device for iCollege. The IT Knowledge Base has more info on specific technology requirements and a tool to perform a system check.

Where do I get help with iCollege? For quick help on common topics, you can review the iCollege Documentation for Students. Additionally, the Georgia State IIT Technology Service Desk and the D2L Help Center provide support for iCollege. Review the following help articles for more details:

How do I receive notifications from iCollege? iCollege offers SMS text notifications for updates to course content, announcements, grades, etc. It also offers the Brightspace Pulse app which provides push notifications to your mobile device when there have been updates to your course. Review the following help articles for more details:

What is iCollege Mail and should I use it? iCollege Mail is the platform's internal messaging system. It is not integrated with your GSU student email account, PantherMail (powered by Outlook). Do not use iCollege mail to communicate with your professor in this course. GSU’ss PantherMail (powered by Outlook) is easier to navigate and provides a more professional experience for communicating with both faculty and your peers. Review the following help articles for more details:


In this course, you will read, annotate, discuss, and reflect on Perusall, an interactive social reading platform. The video below provides a quick overview of how to get started. Note that when you click on a Perusall link from this course, you will not be asked to enroll (D2L is linked to Perusall) or purchase a textbook (I have already uploaded all class readings). Visit Perusall’s “Getting Started” documentation for students for a text version of these instructions and other help topics.

Perusall Intro
Student LMS account set up

Performance and evaluation

Because there are no tests or large exams in this course, your performance is evaluated throughout the semester. This is to your benefit; it is much easier to put in a reasonable, steadily paced level of effort throughout the semester than cram intensely for a few high stakes tests. Just keep up with your work at a steady pace throughout the semester and you will do well in this course. Here is an overview of assignments and their percentages of your grade, with more information in the Introduction section of this document:

Module (due)

  • Assignment/grade item (% of final grade)

0. Introduction (1/20 5:00 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

1. Sexual Consent (2/3 5:00 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

2. Prison of Democracy (2/17 5:00 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

3. Mirage of Police Reform (3/3 5 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

4. Precarious Claims (3/24 5 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

5. Borders as Infrastructure (4/7 5:00 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

6. Command and Persuade (4/21 5 p.m.)

  • Annotation and discussion (11.5% of final grade)

  • Reflection (~2.79% of final grade)

7. Conclusion (4/28 at 5 p.m.)

  • Annotation, discussion, and reflection of prior books; modules reopen for the week


  • Annotation and discussion: 80.5% of final grade

  • Reflection: 19.5% of final grade

Grading Policies

Plus/minus grading policy

This program uses a plus/minus grading scale. Remember, you must get at least a C- in this course for it count towards your criminal justice degree.

CRJU 2200 grading scale

The letter grade scale for the final grade is as follows. I do not round grades.

  • A+ is 100-97; A is 96.9-93; A- is 92.9-90

  • B+ is 89.9-87; B is 86.9-83; B- is 82.9-80

  • C+ is 79.9-77; C is 76.9-73; C- is 72.9-70

  • D is 69.9-60

  • F is 59.9 or below

Grade disputes

You must bring all grade disputes to my attention within 7 days of the grade’s posting. After, I will not revisit, discuss, explain grades brought to my attention.  

Attendance and participation

In order to attend this course, you'll need to engage with all learning materials and activities within each course module by the listed due dates. Each module is two weeks in length. Each module has a different topical focus, but the same activities and timeline. In the first week, students read, read critically, and annotate. In the second week, they discuss and reflect. The Introduction has more details on how to complete this work. Failure to submit assignments may lead you to be dropped from the course, without readmission. 

Late submissions

This online course is asynchronous (i.e., we never “meet”). However, assignments must be submitted by the due dates and times specified in the Course Schedule. Late submissions will only be accepted in extreme circumstances (e.g., death in the family, hospitalization, etc.) and when documentation can be provided. Also, if you have what I deem an excusable absence, it must be brought to my attention within 24 hours of the problem’s occurrence; otherwise, I will not allow an extension. I highly recommend you complete assignments ASAP, not wait until the end. “Technology problems” are not an excuse for late submissions.

Grace Period

As a courtesy, I keep each submission folder open for an extra ~55 hours; specifically, until Sunday at 11:59 pm.

  • Thus, there is absolutely no technology excuse for late submissions. You should always try to submit by the due date and time, and only use the grace period as a back-up.

  • For late work to be excusable, the problem (e.g., sickness) must occur before the grace period. For example, if you wait for the grace period to turn in an assignment, but then get sick on the weekend so do not turn it in, this is not excusable. Ditto technology problems and every other problem. 


People work and learn together best when expectations are clear from the start. These policies are in place to help hold you accountable to your instructor, your classmates, and yourself. If you have questions or concerns about adhering to any of these policies, please contact your instructor.

Course policies

The following policies are specific to this course. Please pay special attention to these policies as they may be different than those in your other courses. These policies have been developed over many years and we have found them to work well in both supporting clear communication and expectations and in helping students to successfully complete this course.


Netiquette, a social code that defines “good” online behavior is something to keep in mind during your online course interactions. Writing may be the only means of communication you have with classmates and instructors, so it is especially important to do this effectively. Follow the guidelines below to leave your mark as a knowledgeable, respectful and polite student who is also positioned to succeed professionally.

Be scholarly.

  • Do: Use proper language, grammar and spelling. Be explanatory and justify your opinions. Credit the ideas of others through citing and linking to scholarly resources.

  • Avoid: Misinforming others when you may not know the answer. If you are guessing about something, clearly state that you do not know the answer.

Be respectful.

  • Do: Respect privacy, diversity and opinions of others. Communicate tactfully and base disagreements on scholarly ideas or research evidence.

  • Avoid: Sharing another person's professional or personal information.

Be professional.

  • Do: Represent yourself well at all times. Be truthful, accurate and run a final spell check. Limit the use of slang and emoticons.

  • Avoid: Using profanity or participating in hostile interactions.

Be polite.

  • Do: Address others by name or appropriate title and be mindful of your tone. Treat people as if you were in a face-to-face situation.

  • Avoid: Using sarcasm, being rude or writing in all capital letters. Written words can be easily misinterpreted as they lack nonverbals.

Adapted from ASU Online

Grade disputes

Timeliness and attention to detail are essential skills for your future career and life. Please review all your graded work and contact me with any questions or disputes within 7 days of the grade’s posting. After that 7-day window, the course has moved on and I will not revisit, discuss, explain grades brought to my attention.  

Make-up work

As this course provides ample opportunities over the entire semester for you to demonstrate what you've learned and earn a good grade (no high stakes exams here), make up work is not permitted and late submissions will only be accepted in extreme circumstances (e.g., death in the family, hospitalization, etc.) and when documentation can be provided. Since this course is asynchronous, it is on you to identify any potential conflicts and work ahead if necessary in order to meet course deadlines. In fact I recommend you always try to work at least a little ahead to give yourself wiggle room in case of inevitable technology issues. If unexpected and extreme conflicts arise (like the examples above), it is your responsibility to bring your situation to my attention within 24 hours of the occurrence, otherwise, I will not allow an extension. To reiterate something above, “technology problems” are not an excuse for late submissions.

Technology problems

I do not help with most technology problems for two key reasons: 1) all the technology help I know how to offer is already  in this syllabus, and 2) it is important for you to practice getting help on your own. Asking for my help with technology issues is actually incredibly inefficient as I would be standing between you and the real experts available to you, and practicing getting help on your own is an important life and career skill. When you learn how to seek the answers to your own questions, you gain direct access to the wide world around you rather than a small mediated slice. For problems with iCollege, the GSU Library, or of a more personal nature (e.g., getting your internet or laptop to work), contact the experts at the GSU technology services help desk, email [email protected], or call 404-413-4357.

Contacting your instructor

Before emailing me: Whenever possible, you should first ask questions by posing them in Perusall. If that doesn't answer your question and you need to email me, please do the following or I will not reply:

  • Email me at [email protected], not via the address associated with iCollege.

  • Send the email from your GSU email account.

  • Do not ask something that answered elsewhere (e.g., in this document).

  • Ask a clear question.

If I do not respond to your email, look to see whether you did all of the above. If you did but I didn’t reply within 24 hours, please resend your original email. This policy may seem picky, but poor communication inevitably leads to miscommunication. 

GSU policies

Academic integrity

Georgia State University has a specific policy on Academic Honesty and it is your responsibility to read and know about it. As the policy says, “Lack of knowledge of this policy is not an acceptable defense to any charge of academic dishonesty. All members of the academic community—students, faculty, and staff—are expected to report violations of these standards.” You can view the full GSU Academic Honesty policy here. A very brief summary is: “As members of the academic community, students are expected to recognize and uphold standards of intellectual and academic integrity. The university assumes as a basic and minimum standard of conduct in academic matters that students be honest and that they submit for credit only the products of their own efforts.” Direct Link: What is Academic Integrity? Is it Different from Academic Honesty?

Types of academic dishonesty

Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s words, images, or creative work as your own, whether you use their ideas, a single sentence, or an entire work. It doesn’t matter whether the source has been published or unpublished, or can be found on the Internet. Just because something is freely available on the Internet does not mean it is free to use without giving credit to the creator. Downloading, buying research papers online, and/or copying and pasting is plagiarism. Paraphrasing (changing the words around) is also plagiarism unless you cite your source. If you are unsure whether or not you are guilty of plagiarism, ask your instructor or one of the librarians for help.

Unauthorized collaboration

If you are submitting an assignment for a grade, you may not collaborate with another student. So unless your teacher says it is acceptable to work together as a group, your work must be done by yourself alone.


If you’ve forgotten which sources you used for a paper or project, don’t make up a citation. Leaving out a citation is also considered falsification. Writing your paper first and then adding citations that you haven’t used to write the paper is another example of falsification. Examples of falsification include using Wikipedia, but not citing it after your professor has said that you may not use it; faking your attendance; logging in with another student’s password; and/or completing or submitting an assignment for someone else. 


Students who get caught cheating, plagiarizing, or any of the other forms of academic dishonesty run the risk of both academic and disciplinary actions. These can be anything from a failing grade for the course up to expulsion from the school with a permanent note on your transcript. Before you decide to violate the Academic Honesty policy, ask yourself—“Is this really worth the risk?” Academic life is challenging. Learning to conduct college-level research and handle multiple assignments at once can be overwhelming. But mastering these skills will help you, not only during your college years, but in everyday life as well. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are unprepared for an exam, don’t cheat—let your instructor know before the exam. Don’t plagiarize—if you are unsure how to cite your resources in a paper, talk with your instructor or one of the university librarians.

Other university policies


As of Fall 2006 semester, all undergraduate students are allowed to withdraw with a grade of W a maximum of six (6) times in their entire careers at Georgia State. Students who exceed the limit will automatically receive a grade of WF. (WFs count as Fs for GPA calculation purposes.) Withdrawals taken before Fall 2006 will not count against the limit and neither will hardship withdrawals, military withdrawals, withdrawals at other institutions, or withdrawals after the midpoint. (Withdrawals after the midpoint are automatically given a grade of WF.) Please note, the instructor of a course will not decide whether a student who withdraws before the midpoint receives a W or a WF. Instead, students with less than 6 withdrawals will automatically receive a W and students with 6 or more withdrawals will automatically receive a WF.


In keeping with USG and university policy, this course website will make every effort to maintain the privacy and accuracy of your personal information. Specifically, unless otherwise noted, it will not actively share personal information gathered from the site with anyone except university employees whose responsibilities require access to said records. However, some information collected from the site may be subject to the Georgia Open Records Act. This means that while we do not actively share information, in some cases we may be compelled by law to release information gathered from the site. Also, the site will be managed in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits the release of education records without student permission.

Sexual Harassment

In instances of sexual misconduct, the present instructor(s) and teaching assistants, are designated as Responsible Employees who are required to share with administrative officials all reports of sexual misconduct for university review. If you wish to disclose an incident of sexual misconduct confidentially, there are options on campus for you do so.  For more information on this policy, please refer to the Sexual Misconduct Policy which is included in the Georgia State University Student Code of Conduct.

Online course evaluations

Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take time to fill out the online course evaluation. Please be respectful when filling out your evaluation, as they really do matter and are read by many people.

Access and accommodations

The Access and Accommodations Center’s (AACE) vision is to create an accessible community where people are assessed on their ability, not their disability. AACE also strives to provide equal access to students with disabilities and provide individuals with the tools by which they can accomplish their educational and career goals. Both ACCE and the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Online Education are committed to providing an accessible and inclusive learning experience for all students. See below for descriptions and links to some of their most commonly requested resources.

Accessibility tools in iCollege

iCollege has a number of built-in tools that allow for a more flexible experience.

Managing preferences

Under Account Settings (Video: How to Manage Your Account Settings), there are settings options that can change the look and interaction of pages across iCollege. You might want to do this if you are primarily using a smaller device or are using assistive technology (such as a screen reader, screen magnifier, or voice software). You are able:

  • Choose between four different font size options

  • Change modal dialogs to pop-ups.

  • Turn off or on HTML rich text features.

  • Not automatically mark items as read as the page scrolls.

  • Optimize video presentation for programmatically-driven assistive technologies.

Text to speech

If you need text to be read aloud, iCollege has a Text to Speech feature. This tool reads out HTML-created text in the course’s content; a variety of document types including Microsoft Word documents and PDF files; and can be used by students to read content outside of iCollege.

Alternative formats

If you would like to access your course content in a different format (e.g., PDF, Mobile-friendly HTML, Audio, ePub, Electronic Braille), then iCollege has a tool for that too. Watch the video to learn how to use Ally to access alternative formats in iCollege.

Registering with AACE and Requesting Accommodations

Online Testing Accommodations

Support statements

Our most successful students succeed in part because they have support. GSU has resources to support you not only as a student in our courses, but as a whole person and member of the Panther community. 


We understand that students in our program come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. AYSPS is committed to providing a learning environment that respects diversity. To build this community we ask all members to:

  • Share their unique experiences, values and beliefs.

  • Be open to the views of others.

  • Honor the uniqueness of their colleagues.

  • Appreciate the opportunity that we have to learn from each other in this community.

  • Value each other’s opinions and communicate in a respectful manner.

  • Keep confidential discussions that the community has of a personal (or professional) nature.


Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Access and Accommodation Center. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Access and Accommodation Center of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought. For more information, contact the GSU Access & Accommodations Center
Phone: (404) 413-1560, email: [email protected], website:

Academic Coaching

As a Georgia State student, you can request a personal academic coach to guide you during your journey. The academic coach will help you develop an academic plan, nurture healthy study habits, establish attainable goals, prepare for exams, and utilize the resources available to you to make sure you succeed. This is different from your advisor, who helps you register for class, switch majors, or figure out your graduation path. Your academic coach digs deeper. They will work to remove any academic barriers outside of your course schedule, and make sure nothing stops you from not only making good grades but also making the best resources available to you. Request a meeting with an academic coach by sending an email to [email protected].

Basic Needs

The Embark Network provides assistance to students experiencing homelessness or the foster care system. The Embark Network connects students with on and off campus resources for assistance with food insecurity, housing, homeless verification, employment referrals and other services and will work with students to navigate university policies and processes. Visit the Embark Network website to learn how to get assistance. 

Military Outreach

Are you active duty, reserve, or a veteran? GSU is committed to supporting military-connected students through the development and implementation of outreach programs and services focused on meeting the unique needs and challenges of today’s military community. Visit the Military Outreach website to connect with resources and services.

Pregnant & Parenting Students

GSU does not discriminate against any student on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or parental status. If you need to seek any course adjustments on these bases, you should discuss the request directly with your instructor. Learn more about your rights.

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