DUKE SYLLABUS BANK
With the existence of a Syllabus Bank, undergraduate students may…
Find courses based on topics of interest
Access a course syllabus for self-directed learning
Find a faculty member to potentially research for
Explore additional recommended academic literature for a senior capstone or thesis
Find readings from a course taken in the past to use for a current academic paper or project
Not have to wait a semester/year to see a syllabus, should they determine they want to take a certain course in the future (or preview a required course)
Reduce gaps among students that do vs. do not have prior knowledge—through student networks—of Duke's undergraduate courses
With the existence of a Syllabus Bank, faculty may…
Identify adjacent courses, or courses on related topics, across departments
Gain general familiarity with courses offered by colleagues, which may prove particularly useful for newer faculty members
Discover useful language to inform their own syllabi, such as class attendance or participation policy, assignment structure, etc.
Consult syllabi of prior version(s) of a course if a faculty member takes over responsibility for said course
Review syllabi of existing courses to avoid replication, if they're hoping to establish a new course
ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY
This outlines Duke University’s policy for acceptable use of the Duke Syllabus Bank (the “Site”), Duke.SimpleSyllabus.com, by students, faculty, staff, and other appropriately authenticated users. By using the Site, you are agreeing to comply with the Acceptable Use Policy outlined below, and to the monitoring of your actions and activity whilst utilizing the Site.
Subject to the remainder of this Acceptable Use Policy:
If you are a student, you may use the Site solely for your educational purposes.
If you are an instructor or staff member, you may use the Site solely in connection with your teaching and administration of Duke courses, as well as for your Duke research.
You may download a small number (approximately 10 per semester) of syllabi from the Site (“Syllabi”) for personal use in accordance with the foregoing. However, you may not publish, transfer, distribute, or otherwise share the Syllabi, nor may you provide others access to the Site through your credentials. Any commercial use of the Site or Syllabi is strictly prohibited.
If you borrow ideas, information or text from any of the Syllabi in your work, you must follow the same standards of attribution you would for any other scholarly works authored by Duke faculty. If you wish to use a Syllabus in a way that goes beyond what is permitted under this Acceptable Use Policy, you should contact the author or appropriate rightsholder.
You may not conduct any systematic or automated data collection activities—including scraping, data mining, data extraction, and data harvesting—on or in relation to the Site, and may not download, screenshot, copy, or collect a substantial number of Syllabi by any means or for any purpose.
You may not use the Site or Syllabi in any way that causes, or may cause, damage, of the Site; or in any way that impairs its availability or accessibility; or in any way that is unlawful, illegal, fraudulent or harmful; or in connection with any unlawful, illegal, fraudulent or harmful purpose or activity.
Any violation of this Acceptable Use Policy—or other institutional policies, such as the Duke Community Standard, as related to the Site—may lead to disciplinary action.
This Acceptable Use Policy may be modified by Duke University from time to time. In the case of modification, the modified Policy will be posted here with a “Last updated” date.
Last updated: October 10, 2021
This Acceptable Use Policy is an adaptation of “Acceptable Use Policy” (on Harvard Syllabus Explorer) by Harvard University (2016), and is used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence, with modifications made to the original source.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Duke Syllabus Bank? What is Simple Syllabus?
Duke Syllabus Bank is a web-based resource that aggregates syllabi from classes across all undergraduate academic departments for students and faculty to view. Spearheaded by the Registrar and SISS Offices, Duke has secured an institutional license with Simple Syllabus, the leading Syllabus Repository vendor, to develop and create Duke Syllabus Bank. Check out this PDF for an in-depth overview of Duke Syllabus Bank.
Why was Duke Syllabus Bank created?
Duke Student Government’s Academic Affairs Committee has been working towards the creation of an undergraduate Syllabus Bank for over five years, because the lack of such a repository was an area of profound inequity for our students. Over the years, many selective living groups and pre-professional organizations have gathered syllabi from their members and built out robust internal syllabi repositories, some of which span nearly a decade worth of syllabi. Meanwhile, students who are not a part of these groups—often students of color, students who identify as first generation/limited income, etc.—disproportionately lack access to syllabi. Hence, a Duke Syllabus Bank will level the playing field for all students. Additionally, most of Duke’s Ivy+/COFHE peer institutions have already recognized and addressed this problem (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, etc.).
At first, the DSG team conducted a grassroots effort and gathered syllabi from students back in 2017-18; however, DSG quickly realized this was unsustainable and also prioritized larger departments, such as Computer Science or Public Policy. Given this, since 2018, DSG has been in talks with faculty governance leaders, Directors of Undergraduate Study, Executive Vice Provost Jennifer Francis, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Gary Bennett, the Registrar and SISS Offices, and other stakeholders to determine a more sustainable solution. Despite many delays due to COVID-19 challenges, DSG is thrilled to be launching the Duke Syllabus Bank pilot this Fall 2021, in close partnership with many campus partners, including those aforementioned.
Who can view a syllabus?
Active Duke students and faculty members with a valid Shibboleth login (NetID & password) are allowed to view class syllabi. Please see the answer to “How are all syllabi protected?” for an in-depth description of the measures in place to proactively mitigate potential syllabi misuse.
Where do I find syllabi?
There are two primary ways to find syllabi: either on the My Courses Tab or the Syllabus Library tab. Under the My Courses Tab, syllabi will be shown for classes you are enrolled in for the current term. The Syllabus Library—which will be particularly useful around the biannual class registration periods—is a central repository of all syllabi, past and present, that can be filtered by term, subject, instructor, course number, or school (Trinity vs. Pratt).
After clicking “View” under the course of interest, the file(s) uploaded by the course instructor will appear as linked documents. Clicking on the document link will allow you to view the files.
When can I view syllabi?
Class syllabi will always be available at Duke.SimpleSyllabus.com, after they are uploaded by a Duke faculty or staff member. Check the Syllabus Bank frequently during enrollment periods for any relevant changes to class syllabi you are interested in, or sign up in the Syllabus Bank to receive notifications for classes that you are enrolled in (or have “favorited”).
Why an initial rollout/pilot?
This fall and next spring will be a phase of learning and testing as the Duke Community—students, faculty, and support staff alike—get used to the Simple Syllabus tool. This phase will also be used to observe how students and faculty utilize the Syllabus Bank, which will help inform long-term planning.
What are the benefits of Duke Syllabus Bank for faculty members and students?
Please see above.
I have another question or concern which was not addressed in this FAQ. How can I get in contact with someone on the Duke Syllabus Bank team?
Please reach out to the Duke Syllabus Bank team by emailing email@example.com. Thank you.
Who has access to upload a syllabus for a class?
Duke faculty members are able to upload syllabi for their undergraduate class(es) for a given semester. (The requisite data is automatically pulled into the Syllabus Bank from Duke’s Student Information System.) Additionally, designated Department/DUS Assistants have access to submit syllabi for all undergraduate classes within their respective departments, such that faculty members do not have to.
Are syllabus uploads and changes automatically applied to all cross-listed offerings?
As of right now, unfortunately not. Syllabus uploads and changes are not applied to all cross-listed codes/offerings. Instructors currently need to re-upload syllabi for each cross-listed section so that changes in syllabi can be reflected across all cross-listed codes. However, the Simple Syllabus team is actively working on resolving this issue, streamlining the cross-list class experience, and anticipates rolling out updated features in the coming months.
When can faculty or staff upload syllabi?
Faculty can begin uploading syllabi in advance of each enrollment period and can continue doing so throughout the semester.
Are there restrictions on the file size or format for a syllabus?
No. Syllabi are accepted in myriad file types and there is no size limit. The full list of supported file types includes: PDF (.pdf – most preferable), Word (.doc, .docx), Pages (.pages), Excel (.xls, .xlsx), PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx), CSV (.csv, .psv), Image and Video (.jpg, .png, .gif, .mp4).
How can a syllabus be uploaded if it is in a non-traditional format (e.g., website, etc.)?
As mentioned above, Simple Syllabus accepts most traditional file types, including image and video files. With that being said, please try to convert non-traditional syllabi into one of the formats above or link to the syllabus in a simple PDF. For example, should the syllabus be a website, kindly use the “Print as PDF” feature and upload the file to the Syllabus Bank, or—should there be plans for the website to remain active after the semester ends—feel free to add the URL to a PDF and upload that in lieu of an actual syllabus.
Syllabus Bank Content
How can I view syllabi from previous semesters?
Certain syllabi from the past academic year are currently available to view in the Duke Syllabus Bank using the Syllabus Library feature. However, as time goes on, more and more semesters' worth of syllabi will be available for viewing. Syllabi are generally accessible to the Duke community indefinitely, subject to the discretion of specific departments and course instructors.
Are the syllabi posted to the Duke Syllabus Bank the final course syllabi?
Likely not. Uploaded syllabi are meant to be instructive and reflective of the content covered during the class, but are not necessarily the final versions of course syllabi. Faculty, of course, are able to significantly alter or update syllabi as needed during the semester and may not upload these versions to Duke Syllabus Bank.
Are the syllabi posted to the Duke Syllabus Bank indicative of what a student may experience in future semesters of a class?
Yes and no. All syllabi for past semesters are there for reference only – primarily to give students a better understanding of the content & main topics covered in the class. If the same faculty member is teaching a class in future semesters, there is a good chance that much of the class may be similar to what is represented in syllabi published in the Syllabus Bank. However, if a different faculty member is teaching a class in the future, there is little guarantee that the class will look or feel the same.
Will a syllabus be posted for every class over the 2021-2022 academic year? Can faculty choose to not include their syllabi during this year’s pilot phase?
To the former: no; to the latter: yes. While the Duke Syllabus Bank is in a pilot phase over this academic year, individual faculty members or departments retain full agency as to whether they would like to upload course syllabi to the repository or not. As for a longer term policy, Duke Student Government is working closely with the requisite stakeholders to determine what this may be.
Security – Do’s and Don’ts
How are all syllabi protected?
The Duke Syllabus Bank is a privilege afforded to students and faculty. Importantly, all users of the Duke Syllabus Bank must agree to a list of Acceptable Use Terms (above) as well as the Duke Community Standard. Any violations of the outlined—or other institutional—policies may lead to disciplinary action with the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards. This includes sharing syllabi outside of the Duke Community in any way, shape, or form, in particular. Please also note that faculty members are able to view a precise breakdown of who has viewed their syllabi, so it is easy to track down any potential violations of the aforementioned/institutional policies.
Can users outside of the Duke Community access syllabi or are syllabi available to the public?
No, syllabi will not be viewable to anyone outside of the Duke Community. Only Duke undergraduate students, faculty, or staff members with an active Shibboleth login (NetID & password) may access the Duke Syllabus Bank.
Am I permitted to share or post online syllabi that I have not authored?
No, absolutely not. Duke University and its faculty members hold the copyright to their syllabi; students (or others besides the faculty author) may not consider course syllabi as their own work. All users of Duke Syllabus Bank must abide by the Acceptable Use Terms (above), which state “you may not publish, transfer, distribute, or otherwise share the Syllabi, nor may you provide others access to the Site through your credentials. Any commercial use of the Site or Syllabi is strictly prohibited.” As a reminder, any violations of the outlined—or other institutional—policies may lead to disciplinary action with the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards. Please also note that faculty members are able to view a precise breakdown of who has viewed their syllabi, so it is easy to track down any potential violations of the aforementioned/institutional policies.