[Header image is of flower fields in Hokkaido]


Is this course 100% online?

Yes, this course is 100% online. We will not meet in person.

Do you have office hours or student hours?

Yes, Prof. Alexy has time set aside to talk with students on Thursdays from 9am to 12 noon. Areli Ariana has office hours immediately after lecture on Wednesdays from 4 to 6pm. We are happy to talk about anything you want, so please don't feel like you have to have a very specific question. In order to makes sure everyone has time to talk, we ask you to please sign up for appointments via google calendar and cancel your appointment if it turns out you can't make it.

What should I do if I have trouble completing some course work?

I designed this course understanding the really difficult and challenging circumstances we are living in now. Things are very far from ideal. I understand that students are dealing with new problems or responsibilities from care work to paid work, illness and recovery, violence or stress within families, loss of jobs, crowded or loud spaces, and many other stressors. If you are having problems completing the course work, please reach out to me or the GSI. We will not ask for details and you do not need to "prove" anything to us. But we will work with you to create alternative plans that are feasible.

Learning online doesn't feel great to me. Do you have any advice?

Learning online is new to many of us and it completely makes sense that we haven't figured it out yet. Part of our work together this semester will be figuring out different options for learning online that each student can then take or leave, depending on their own preferences. In addition to what we will discuss together in lecture and sections, I have created a space for sharing thoughts, frustrations, or realizations. Please check out the three discussion boards in Canvas that ask you to reflect on what works for you, does not work for you, or what you might like to try. These are designed to make clear that students have a lot of great ideas and that what works for one person might very well not for another. Please think about adding your thoughts to the discussion or try some suggestions from other students.

I'm really interested in taking Japanese but I heard it's a really hard language to learn?

OMG please try a class! I've heard many students say they've heard similar things about Japanese being a hard language. While it certainly takes work, the Japanese language courses at UM are incredibly popular and successful because our instructors are incredible. If you are considering taking a class, I highly recommend you check one out. Please notice, too, that if you're starting from the beginning, introductory courses aren't offered in Winter semester. So if you want to start, you should perhaps try in Fall semester.

Do I have to turn on my video camera in lecture or discussion section?

No, you don't. We understand that students might have a variety of reasons why they don't want to turn on their video cameras. If you are in that situation, please reach out to me or Areli Ariana to discuss other ways of including you in the discussion. If it helps, please check out how to use a background on zoom which might give you a little more privacy.

I have had some personal experiences that make it hard to talk or read about some of these topics. What should I do?

Of course the choice is entirely yours, but I hope that you will consider taking this course even if the syllabus includes difficult or triggering topics. I never want to traumatize or re-traumatize anyone. Please reach out to me or your GSI to think through alternative assignments. You definitely do not just have to "power through" a difficult topic.

Can I drop any grade in this course?

No, you can't. As explained on the Grading & Requirements page, there are a lot of different ways to do well in this course. We have specifically designed assignments to reward different skills and abilities. So, for instance, there are very regular assignments that are credit / no credit, meaning you can get all the points by turning it in on time. This is designed for students who might feel less sure or confident of the materials, to give you very low stakes assignments in which you can ask questions and try to figure things out. That said, we are always happy to accommodate students' needs and understand that people are all dealing with a lot this semester. Please reach out if you are having difficulty.


Where can I find the lectures?

When they are presented live (Monday and Wednesdays, 2:30-4pm eastern time) you can join via zoom. If you didn't join live and would like to find the recording, please go to Canvas / Media Gallery. I find that the Media Gallery often works better in a Chrome browser. If you're having trouble, or if the video recordings won't load, please try another browser.

Do I have to attend the lectures "live"?

No, it's entirely your choice if you join them live or watch recordings later. When I surveyed students before the semester started, more than 80% said they preferred "live" synchronous lectures. So I organized the course to create that opportunity but it is not a requirement. I understand that it is not possible for some students – for any number of reasons – to attend synchronous lectures. In that case, please check out the recordings.

What's the best way to pay attention in lecture?

Every person learns differently. I suggest you treat our lectures as you would regular, in-person lectures. Perhaps you could have a notebook dedicated for this course and take notes on each lecture there. My guess – and it's only a guess – is that it might be hard to take notes on your computer or tablet if you are also using it watch the lecture.

When and where will the lecture guides be posted?

Lecture guides will be posted by 5pm on Mondays and Wednesday, i.e. one hour after the live lecture ends. They will be posted on Canvas under Assignments / Lecture Guides. You can fill them out there and submit them for credit.

Why aren't the lecture guides posted before the lecture?

Great question. I have a plan for what I will say in lecture but, because I am working hard to make every lecture interactive and engaging for the students, I cannot fully predict where the lecture will go. Based on student comments or questions, we might not get to something I planned to include or we might go in some fun new direction. And that's great! I will be happy to revise my plans and figure out how to include information we skip in future lectures. But it means that any lecture guide I wrote before I deliver the lecture might necessarily become inaccurate and ask a question about something that I didn't get to include in that lecture. In order to make the guides accurate and fair, I will finalize them immediately after I deliver the lectures and post them to Canvas then.

Does this course have a final exam?

It does not.

How can I earn extra credit?

I am happy to offer extra credit as an opportunity for undergraduate students to engage with some of the amazing events that will occur on our campus throughout the semester. I will announce extra credit opportunities in lecture or via Canvas. These opportunities all relate to our course materials and will offer moments to broaden your knowledge and perspectives. If you are interested and able to go, you attend the event, watch the film, or listen to the podcast. Next write a reflection about it that is at least 350 words long, perhaps linking it to things we have discussed in class. Upload that reflection to Canvas / Assignments / Extra Credit / specific event. Each extra credit reflection is due one week after the event takes place and will be graded as credit / no credit. There will be at least ten extra credit opportunities offered throughout the semester.

How many points, or how much credit, comes from each extra credit opportunity?

This is a great question that we won't be able to fully answer until the end of the semester. Right now, my guess is that each extra credit opportunity will end up counting for between 0.1 and 0.5 total points. Because I am trying to give as many extra credit opportunities as possible, and I am adding opportunities as I learn about them, I don't know how many total opportunities will occur throughout the semester. I strongly suspect there will be more than 20 opportunities, but I also understand that everyone has very busy schedules, so it's unlikely any student would be able to attend most, or even many, of those. By the end of the semester, when we know the final number, I will calculate how much each individual event will count for.


Do I have to buy any books or article for this course?

No. I worked hard to find excellent readings that are also freely available to you as students. I assign one book, which I wrote and it is available through open access, i.e. free without a copyright violation. I wanted to create a syllabus that didn't require any financial outlay, given the difficult context in which we are all living right now.

When is the reading due?

If an assignment is listed on the syllabus, that means you need to have read it or watched before the lecture that day. I.e. that is the day it is due.

How should I write discussion questions?

There are examples here.

Can I turn in work early?

Yes, you're welcome to submit assignments as early as you want.

Can I turn in work late?

Some work can be turned in late but other work cannot get credit if it arrives late (without an excused absence or extension). Assignments that are graded credit / no credit cannot be turned in late for credit. These include discussion questions and lecture guides. Assignments that are graded with number grades can be turned in late. They will lose three points for each day late. Please reach out if you are dealing with something difficult and need an extension or accommodation.

DISCUSSION SECTIONS (for undergraduate students)

Do sections meet the first week?

Yes, they do. We will do lots of important work in the first sections, so please plan on joining in.

Do I have to attend section "live," when it's scheduled?

Yes, please do. Your 50 minute discussion section is the only part of this course that is synchronous. We invite you to join "live" because it's a space for you to learn most directly from each other.

Do sections meet the last week?

Well, that depends on how we define the "last week." The last sections will be on Friday 12/4. The final lecture will occur after those sections, on Monday, December 7.


What resources exist on campus for students?

- The office of Services for Students with Disabilities
- A food bank is very close to central campus
- Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center