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Quick question.

I plan to teach a couse after I pass my comprehensive exam, and I am expected to teach a least one course during the course of my doctoral studies. It is common practice in my field.

I've came across a few syllabi of tenured professors or tenure-track professors, at different universities, who are teaching on themes related to my research expertise. Since my topic has an angle that is quite new, those courses are taught as a special topics course rather than a mandatory/well-established course in almost all the cases I have came across.

My question is: is it common practice to contact those professors by email to inform them that I would like to take some content from their syllabi (assignments, readings, etc.) and that I would cite them in my syllabus as the ones who have designed the original course content.

Or do I just create my syllabus and cite them (*Inspired by the work of so-and-so)?

What's the politics around that? What about if the professor is teaching at a different university than the one I'd be teaching at? And If I have to contact professors, what do I say to them exactly?

Thank you

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  • 1 month later...

If you found syllabi in these faculty's websites, programs, etc. (even Academia.edu), you can borrow what you want. Syllabi don't typically cite or read "inspired by" sections because part of your authority as an expert in whatever you will be teaching is that you know where to find that information. I think all of us, when we share our syllabi, we assume people are going to pick our brains one way or the other. At my institution, our best assignments usually came out of teaching-brainstorming sessions. 

What I would suggest is do take note on a separate document of what you are doing, whose work you are "citing", and how you are constructing your course. If your field will take you to anything remotely related to teaching and instruction, it's always handy to go back to these notes in preparation for the job market. It's always a good skill to explain how you build the rationale of a course/class/program/workshop, etc.

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I would treat syllabi as the intellectual property of the academics that developed them or of the institution they work for.

I would also, as a sign of respect, ask for permission to use someone else's work product. (And if they work for an institution with a restrictive IP policy, they may not have the legal ability to grant permission.


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