Boilerplate for George Mason University courses

This information applies to all courses taught by Zachary M. Schrag at George Mason University. Last updated, 31 December 2015.

The University Catalog,, is the central resource for university policies affecting student, faculty, and staff conduct in university academic affairs. Other policies are available at All members of the university community are responsible for knowing and following established policies.

In case of inclement weather, please call the main switchboard at 703-993-1000 or consult the main web page at to see if classes are cancelled. I expect to cancel class only when the university cancels all classes. If possible, we will meet online on Blackboard at the regular class time in order to keep to schedule.


Please review the dates for adding and dropping courses on the university’s Academic Calendars page,

Campus Resources

Citation and Collaboration

All assignments are governed by the George Mason University honor code, online at Except as instructed, you are expected to work independently and to acknowledge all sources, including assigned texts and materials found online. I do not routinely use plagiarism-detection software, but I reserve the right to use this and other means to investigate suspected plagiarism.

While you are responsible for your own essays, you will get a great deal of help from each other identifying and interpreting primary and secondary sources, and revising your work. Please credit this help as appropriate. You may not submit work based whole or in part on work you have done for credit in other courses without written permission of the instructor.

If you have questions about when to cite, I recommend Kate L. Turabian et al., A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and Gordon Harvey’s Writing with Sources. Please ask me if you need clarification.

In general, any sentence in your work that can be traced to a single sentence in someone else’s work should bear a footnote. Any collaboration, such as consultation with the Writing Center, should also be acknowledged. Violations of academic integrity will be reported to the administration and may result in grade penalties, including failure of the course.

Papers in undergraduate classes should use APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style citation; Chicago is preferred, especially for history majors, and it is required for students in HIST 300 and 499 and for graduate students. Nonstandard citation will not receive full credit.

Computers and Online Components

My courses are mostly paperless; most assignments should be posted on Blackboard. (Please note we are using Blackboard Learn 9.1, accessible through the My Mason portal You will also receive feedback on Blackboard. Please include your last name in the file name of any attachment you post to Blackboard or send by e-mail; e.g., jones_essay2.doc, not essay2.doc.

 Formats
Please use .doc, .docx, or .rtf for all assignments. This will make it easier for us to share drafts.

Please do not send Microsoft Works (.wps) attachments; I cannot open them. Please do not send Microsoft shortcuts (.lnk) which work only on your local computer.

 E-mail

Students must use their Mason email accounts—either the existing “MEMO” system or a new “MASONLIVE” account—to receive important University information, including messages related to this class. Please check your account at least weekly. See for more information.

 Backup

Each semester I hear from students who have lost hours or even days of work due to loss, theft, or malfunction of a computer. I expect you to plan your work so that the sudden loss of a file,device, or computer will not set you back more than a day.

The best way to achieve this is to use an online backup system so that the malfunction or loss of the computer you usually use will not take your work with it.

As part of your Masonlive e-mail account, you have 25 GB of online storage called SkyDrive. If you have access to a computer on which you can install applications, you can install a SkyDrive app <; that will automatically sync files from a SkyDrive folder on your computer to a server.

A similar, free service is offered by If you would like to install this on your machine, please e-mail me for an invitation.

 Versioning

Simultaneous backup will not protect you if you overwrite the document you are working on and then save that version. I suggest that every time you plan to make substantial changes to the draft of your paper, you first make a copy of the draft and save it with the date of the changes in the file name. That way, if you make changes you regret, you can go back to the earlier version.

Classroom Rules

Laptops and other electronic devices can be used only for class purposes. If they distract you or other students, I will ask you to stop using them.
Please do not eat in the classroom, before or during class.


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