MSA advocates for open syllabus idea

The Minnesota Student Association is advocating for course syllabi to be made available to students before they register for classes. MSA will present a proposal to the University Senate in the hopes of making open syllabi a campus-wide policy.

An article published in the Minnesota Daily last week found that many students and faculty support an open syllabus policy, although some instructors remain concerned about their intellectual property rights with releasing syllabi.

If implemented, the policy would require instructors to publish syllabi from previous semesters for courses they’ve taught. New courses, or courses taught for the first time by a new professor, wouldn’t be required to release syllabi. Any syllabus made available would also include a disclaimer to clarify that it has not been updated.

An open syllabus policy, proponents say, would enable students to make better course selections. They could choose courses that suit their interests, learning styles and graduation requirements. It would also give students time to evaluate course textbook options and to find the best prices before classes begin.

In addition, having students better informed before they sign up for a class would create a more effective classroom environment for both learners and instructors.

Although the policy may need fine-tuning before it’s ready for University-wide implementation, we agree that making syllabi available for students to view while they choose courses is a practical move. An open syllabus policy is likely to lead to greater course satisfaction for students and instructors.