this is not an online course

Course Syllabus - EcoArt | Course Outline | Course Supplement

PLEASE NOTE: Course content may be revised during the semester. Any changes will be announced during class and edits will be made to this document. Please refer back to this document on a weekly basis.

Professor: Mark Cooley
Spring 2017
Office hours: by appointment TR 12:00 - 1:30 room 2030
Contact: mcooley(at)


EcoArt brings together ideas, tools and methods from across a spectrum of arts, sciences, progressive agriculture, and folk traditions with an ultimate interest in forming sustainable and creative relationships with the earth's life support systems. The course assumes that the environmental problems we face are largely the product of culture, and as such, require cultural responses. EcoArt explores current discourse on art, ecology, and environmentalism, while challenging students to conceptualize and make engaging, creative, and ecologically informed responses to their world.


EcoArt brings together students with diverse experiences, interests and skills, from a broad spectrum of academic programs, in the interest of developing projects that explore the interdependence of our cultural and biological systems. The course serves as an introduction to EcoArt by creating a context for course members to:

  • Examine the precedence and present case for making art as an ecological practice by studying the history of ecologically informed art practice, while considering the political/economic (and therefore ecological) function of the modern art canon;
  • Develop vocabulary, knowledge and practical skills useful in making creative, ecologically informed decisions in art and life;
  • Create individual and group projects that respond to cultural and ecological conditions;
  • Developing methods of evaluating human works in relation to their ideological and material impacts on the world.


Required Texts & Media

Course Werbsites

Each student is required to keep a dedicated website (on a blogging platform of choice) as a resource and detailed course document. The site should be private and password protected with read only access going to the professor and course members. All coursework is to be documented on the site and posted on the due dates provided in the syllabus. websites should contain a separate page and corresponding menu item dedicated to each course project (with all parts of the project - research, work documentation etc. on a single page). Work will not be considered complete until it is posted to course websites.


The course requires the completion of several individual and collaborative projects, each requiring the following stages of development, which will be thoroughly documented on course websites:

1. Research

The Green Studio

Located on the grounds of the George Mason University’s Art and Design Campus The Green Studio offers students a living studio in which to creatively explore the interdependence of biological and cultural systems. The Green Studio exists, as any working art studio does, in constant flux, and develops organically through the relationship artists form with the ecology of the site.  The concept of an externalized art studio challenges conventional approaches to landscape as master-planned perpetually finished products. The Green Studio also challenges the notion of the art studio as a place where artists retreat from the world and repositions the artist within the contingencies of a living space with its art materials embedded in an ecosystem. The goal of work in The Green Studio is not to create in spite of the world, but rather in relation to it.  In this sense, modernist aesthetics of creating autonomous abstract formal relationships (whether on the canvas or in the landscape) are abandoned in an attempt to find the knowledge and tools to build creative and sustainable relationships with the life support systems of the world. 
The Green Studio online

Field Trips

Field trips are coordinated and carried out with the contributions of the class. Course members are responsible for transportation to field trip sites. Attendance to field trips is mandatory; however, field trip substitutions may be made in the event of unresolvable schedule conflicts. The course includes field trips to various sites. Dates and locations are to be determined with input of all hosts and participants. Trips may include one or more of the following:


Demonstrations and workshops will be given throughout the semester and may include:

  • Homegrown Paper-making
  • Home-scale Vermiculture
  • Chickens: City and Suburbs
  • Home-scale Beekeeping
  • Food Preservation
  • Foraging: City and Suburbs
  • Permaculture: Principles & Methods for Home-Scale Gardening
  • Homegrown Shiitake mushrooms
  • Medicinal Herbs and Preparations

Attendance & Participation

Attendance at all class meetings is mandatory and participation is critical to the success of both the individual and class as a whole. In short, WE NEED YOU. In the event of illness or emergency please notify the professor. Students are allowed two absences during the semester. Each additional unexcused absence results in a letter grade reduction to final grades. Additional excused absences are only given in extraordinary cases. Students are expected to participate in all classroom discussions and activities and contribute equitably to the development of collaborative projects. Arriving late or leaving early more than twice results in an absence. Students spending class time on social media, video games and other distractions are counted absent.

General Education Synthesis Requirements

This course fulfills a Mason requirement for Synthesis. The purpose of the synthesis course is to provide students with the opportunity to synthesize the knowledge, skills and values gained from the general education curriculum. Synthesis courses strive to expand students’ ability to master new content, think critically, and develop life-long learning skills across the disciplines. While it is not feasible to design courses that cover “all” areas of general education, synthesis courses should function as a careful alignment of disciplinary goals with a range of general education learning outcomes.

Learning Outcomes:

A general education synthesis course must address outcomes 1 and 2, and at least one outcome under 3. Upon completing a synthesis course, students will be able to:

  1. Communicate effectively in both oral and written forms, applying appropriate rhetorical standards (e.g., audience adaptation, language, argument, organization, evidence, etc.)
  2. Using perspectives from two or more disciplines, connect issues in a given field to wider intellectual, community or societal concerns
  3. Apply critical thinking skills to: 
    1. Evaluate the quality, credibility and limitations of an argument or a solution using appropriate evidence or resources, OR,
    2. Judge the quality or value of an idea, work, or principle based on appropriate analytics and standards.
Mason Arts Core

This class fulfills a Mason Core requirement for Arts. Arts goal: Courses aim to achieve a majority of the following learning outcomes:

    1. students will be able to identify and analyze the formal elements of a particular art form using vocabulary appropriate to that form;
    2. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between artistic technique and the expression of a work’s underlying concept; analyze cultural productions using standards appropriate to the form and cultural context;
    3. analyze and interpret material or performance culture in its social, historical, and personal contexts;
    4. and engage in the artistic process, including conception, creation, and ongoing critical analysis.


Students receive a grade for each project completed in the course. Project grades are averaged at the end of the semester to obtain a final course grade. Project grades reflect the quality of the following ingredients:

  • Research - depth, quality
  • Concept - generation, rigor, revision,
  • Implementation / Execution - skills developed and demonstrated.
  • Participation and attendance - consistent quality contributions to classroom activity and assigned projects.

A note on evaluation and criticism: The goal of creating ecologically informed art presents a challenge to a dominant paradigm of critical analysis in the fine arts, which relies heavily on the assumption that the true value of art lies essentially in a work's formal qualities and quite apart from the work’s function in the material world. Within a formalist paradigm, artists are often discouraged from dealing directly with social, political, economic and other issues that are seen as an unwanted cheapening of the assumed more noble pursuit of autonomy, transcendence and universality. Since the arrival of new genre public art in the 90s, the art establishment has embraced socially conscious art on many levels, and yet within the university art-with-a-purpose continues to operate only at the margins.  Furthermore, the evaluation of artworks tends to be based in a kind of approach that treats meaning (or “content” as it is often called) like candy on a cake - a treat for one and a disposable ornament for another.  EcoArt pushes at the boundaries - even trespasses the limits - of an art for art’s sake paradigm and assumes that art always already functions -ideologically and materially- in the world. One of the goals of this course is to deconstruct the common assumption that aesthetic choice is (or even can be) isolated from materiality. Whether we're painting a landscape or mowing it, aesthetic choices are also ecological choices.

Students are rewarded for hard work, preparedness, and consistent participation. Letter grades represent the following:

A   Work that represents an excellent contribution to the course. Work that is conceptually rigorous and skillfully applied.

B   Work that demonstrates a knowledgeable and creative understanding of relevant tools and concepts and contributes significantly to the course.

C   Work that satisfactorily meets the requirements of the project and displays adequate know-how. 

D   Work that may or may not meet the minimum requirements of the project and is unsatisfactory.

F   Work that does not fulfill the requirements of the project, incomplete or excessively late, and/or work that displays very little effort and interest.

Course Outline

EcoArt  |  Top of syllabus
AVT 385 | School of Art | George Mason University
Professor: Mark Cooley

Class dates: T 1/24 | R 1/26 | T 1/31 | R 2/2 | T 2/7 | R 2/9 | T 2/14 | R 2/16 | T 2/21 | R 2/23 | T 2/28 | R 3/2 | T 3/7 | R 3/9 | Spring Break Mar 13 – Mar 19 | T 3/21 | R 3/23 | T 3/28 | R 3/30 | T 4/4 | R 4/6 | T 4/11 | R 4/13 | T 4/18 | R 4/20 | T 4/25 | R 4/27 | T 5/2 | R 5/4 |

| T 1/24 | R 1/26 | T 1/31 | R 2/2 | T 2/7 | R 2/9 | T 2/14 | R 2/16 |

Project Resources


Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture. Stuart Ewen.


Ant Farm. To Life. pgs. 53 - 58
Reverend Billy
To Life, pgs. 295 - 300
Vik Muniz film: Waste Land
To Life. pgs. 116 - 123.
Michael Singer, Linnea Glatt, Richard Epstein and Sterling
Solid Waste Management Facility
Julia Anne Goodman, Nothing is Certain Now
Simon Starling, To Life, pgs. 270 - 276.
SF Recycling & Disposal's Artist in Residence Program
Harriete Estel Berma, Grass , Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin
Kuros Zahedi, Finding Away
HA Schult, Trash People
Tim Noble & Sue Webster
DIY Architecture
Robbie Rowlands,
Dr. Evermor, Forevertron
Tim Gaudreau, Self-portrait as Revealed by Trash: 365 days of photographing everything I threw out | Variation 1, 2006
Chris Jordan
Prix Pictet Photography Awards (consumption)
Bob Johnson, River Cubes
Robin Lasser, Dining in the Dump, SF Sanitary Fill Project, Consuming Landscapes (2003)
Anne-Katrin Spiess, S. P. I. L. L. Silent and Persistent Infusion of Life and Love , Fresh Kills, Chopsticks
Andraes Gursky
Tim Noble and Sue Webster
Peter Menzel, Hungry Planet Family Food Portraits


Manufactured Landscapes
Waste Land
What Would Jesus Buy
The Story of Stuff
The Corporation
Freeganism: Living off trash
The Gleaners and I dir.
Consumed - Journeyman Pictures
The Persuaders, PBS Frontline
Edward Burtynsky, TED,

Assignment (Complete assignment given in class)

Keep a consumption journal for 7 days. Produce a project (related or unrelated to the journal) which considers consumption and waste in our society.

Due Dates

T 1/31

  • Research - Discussion of at least 3 Artworks from the project references located in the course outline (100 words minimum for each artwork)
  • Research - Discussion of Text from the project references located in the course outline (200 word minimum for each text);
  • Project Proposal as indicated in syllabus

R 2/16

| T 2/21 | R 2/23 | T 2/28 | R 3/2 | T 3/7 | R 3/9 |

Project Resources


Section 2: Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies by Sue Spaid
Art, Environment Action, Exhibition catalog, Curated by Radhika Subramaniam


The Yes Men
Reverend Billy To Life, pgs. 295 - 300
Center for Tactical Magic - Cricket-Activated Defense System
Carissa Carman and Joanna Lake - State of Progress
Carolyn Lambert - The Ohio River Lifeboat Project
Brooke Singer - 800 Steps Apart
billy X Curmano -
Anne-Katrin Spiess - Chopsticks (2001), CO2 Neutral Bicycle Journeys: Green Horizons, Sublime Climate & Demo Eco M.O. (2007 - )
The Beehive Design Collective - video - To Life. pgs. 129 - 135 | video
Karl Phillips

Workshop / Presentation

Identity Correction and other Tactical Media Practices


What Would Jesus Buy
The Yes Men Fix the World
The Yes Men Revolt

Assignment (Complete assignment given in class)

Plan and execute a public action and/or installation intended to activate witnesses and participants.

Due Dates

T 2/21

  • Research - Discussion of at least 3 Artworks from the project references located in the course outline (100 words minimum for each artwork)
  • Research - Discussion of Text from the project references located in the course outline (200 word minimum for each text);
  • Project Proposal as indicated in syllabus

R 3/9

Spring Break 3/13 – 3/19 | T 3/21 | R 3/23 | T 3/28 | R 3/30 | T 4/4 |

Project Resources


Creative and Green: Art, Ecology, and Community Chapter 2: Art in Land and Water Remediation by Sarah E. Graddy


Hans Haacke - Condensation Cube, 1965 To Life. pgs. 69 - 74.
Hans Haacke - Rhinewater Purification Plant, 1972
Alan Sonfist - Greenwich Village Time Landscape, 1978 - present
Herbert Bayer - Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks, Kent, Washington, 1982 - present
Mierle Laderman Ukeles -
Excerpt from Not Just Garbage To Life. pgs. 116 - 123.
Jackie Brookner - Veden Taika | Halikonlahti Bird Pools, Salo, Finland, 2007-10
Jackie Brookner - BioSculptures
Jackie Brookner - Dreher Park West Palm Beach, Florida, 2003-04
Jackie Brookner - The Gift of Water | Grossenhain, Germany, 2001
Stacy Levy - Spiral Wetland | Fayetteville, Arkansas, 2013
Patricia Johanson - Fair Park Lagoon | Dallas, Texas, 1986
McMurrin, Solid Waste Management Facility
Aviva Rahmani- Ghost Nets | Vinal Haven, Maine, 1990-00
AMD&ART - article by T. Allen Comp (founder)
Mel Chin - Revival FIeld, SPAWN, Fundred, To Life. pgs. 135 - 142.
Tue Greenfort - BONAQUA Condensation Cube
Rupert White - Untitled (still), 2006
Betsy Damon - Keepers of the Waters
Joe Scanlan - Pay Dirt
Jae Rhim Lee, Mushroom Burial Suit, 2012
Amy Youngs, Machine for Living Interdependently, 2012- 2015
Amy Youngs, River Construct, 2010
T. Allen Comp - Ecoscience+Art lecture, 2014
Matthew Friday - Everything is Downstream
Xavier Cortada - Reclamation Project
Ozzie Forbes - Rio Indio
Buster Simpson - EcoArtSpace Interview


Patricia Johanson - EcoArtSpace Interview
Jackie Brookner - EcoArtSpace Interview
Stacy Levy - Ecoscience+Art lecture, 2014
Patricia Johanson - Ecoscience+Art lecture, 2013
Buster Simpson - EcoArtSpace Interview
Dirt! The Movie dirs. Bill Benenson, Gene Rosow, Eleonore Dailly
Symphony of the Soil dir. Deborah Koons Garcia

Workshop / Presentation

Home-scale Vermiculture Systems
Suburban Dirt Farming 101


Create an artwork as an act of remediation or reclamation.

Due Dates

T 3/21

  • Research - Discussion of at least 3 Artworks from the project references located in the course outline (100 words minimum for each artwork)
  • Research - Discussion of Text from the project references located in the course outline (200 word minimum for each text);
  • Project Proposal

T 4/4

| T 4/4 | R 4/6 | T 4/11 | R 4/13 | T 4/18 | R 4/20 |

Project Resources


  1. The Many Roles of a Tree, pgs 85 - 86. Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway
  2. Chapter 2: The Gardner's Ecology, pgs 19 - 27. Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway
  3. Guerrilla gardeners’ spread seeds of social change, Washington Post


Joseph Beuys - 7000 Oaks
People’s Park, Berkeley, Calif. 1, 2
Liz Christy Community Garden
Natalie Jeremijenko - To Life. pgs. 210-216
Alan Sonfist - To Life. pgs. 111 - 116.
Bonnie Ora Sherk - To Life. pgs. 105 - 110. EcoArtSpace Interview
Amy Franceschini - To Life pgs. 171 - 177.
Amy Franceschini & Future Farmers - Victory Garden
Peter von Tiesenhausen
Scot Kaplan - Weeding
Mission Possible
Shelley Sacks, Exchange Values
Fritz Haeg - Edible Estates, Animal Estates
Lynne Hull, Trans-species Art (animal habitat sculpture)
Dan Halter, Mesembryanthemum Space Invader, 2014. 
Critical Art Ensemble To Life. pgs. 147 - 153.
Nicole Fournier - Poly Agriculture. To Life. pgs. 165-171.
J.J. McCracken - Hunger, 2012
Susanne Cockrell and Ted Purves of Temescal Amity Works
Beatriz Da Costa, Dying for the Other 1, 2, The Life Garden, Anti-Cancer Survival Kit
How Art Can Change the Way We Eat at TEDxManhattan


Bonnie Sherk, EcoArtSpace Interview
Future of Food dirs. Deborah Koons. (2004).
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
The Garden dir. Scott Hamilton Kennedy. (2008).
Food Inc. dir. Robert Kenner (2008).


Guerrilla Gardening
Civil Eats

Food Democracy
Real Time Farms
Buy Fresh, Buy Local, Virginia
Slow Food USA
Sustainable Table
USDA Food Environment Atlas
Polyface Farms

Workshop / Presentation

Permaculture techniques for home-scale gardening
The Birds and the Bees
Wildcrafting for food and medicine: City and Suburbs

Assignment (Complete assignment given in class)

Design, plant, and grow a garden as a conscious ecological, and artistic act. The garden must stack functions and include a built component.

Due Dates

T 4/4

  • Discussion of at least 3 Artworks from the project references located in the course outline (100 words minimum for each artwork)
  • Discussion of Text from the project references located in the course outline (200 word minimum for each text);
  • Project Proposal as indicated in syllabus

T 4/25

| T 4/25 | R 4/27 | T 5/2 | R 5/4 |

Project Resources


Measuring Your Soical Impact: Community Food Projects in Action by Jonathan Schifferes, Action and Research Centre (RSA)


Martha Rosler - MetaMonumental Garage Sale

Rirkrit Tiravanija
Pierre Huyghe
Carsten Höller
Laura Parker - Taste of Place
Susanne Cockrell and Ted Purves of Temescal Amity Works
Michelle Fuerst
Foraged Feast
Tsehai Johnson, Table Lessons, 2008
Viviane Le Courtois, Grazing, 2013
Viviane Le Courtois, Tea Time, 2013
100 Bowls of Soup, Herndon VA


Pierre Huyghe - Art 21
Time Bank feature

Podcast, Giftivism & Generosity: Interview with Sam Bower & Anne Veh

Workshop / Presentation

Alternative Trade Models


Assignment (Complete assignment given in class)

Plan and execute collaborative locavore public event with other classmembers. Food made from locally grown ingredients will be created and offered within an experimental artistic, social and economic context.

Due Dates

T 4/25

  • Discussion of at least 3 Artworks from the project references located in the course outline (100 words minimum for each artwork)
  • Discussion of Text from the project references located in the course outline (200 word minimum for each text);
  • Project Proposal as indicated in syllabus

R 5/4

University and School of Art Policies

University and School of Art Policies
In accordance with George Mason University policy, turn off all beepers, cellular telephones and other wireless communication devices at the start of class. The instructor of the class will keep his/her cell phone active to assure receipt of any Mason Alerts in a timely fashion; or in the event that the instructor does not have a cell phone, he/she will designate one student to keep a cell phone active to receive such alerts.

Commitment to Diversity
This class will be conducted as an intentionally inclusive community that celebrates diversity and welcomes the participation in the life of the university of faculty, staff and students who reflect the diversity of our plural society. All may feel free to speak and to be heard without fear that the content of the opinions they express will bias the evaluation of their academic performance or hinder their opportunities for participation in class activities. In turn, all are expected to be respectful of each other without regard to race, class, linguistic background, religion, political beliefs, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, veteran’s status, or physical ability.

Statement on Ethics in Teaching and Practicing Art and Design
As professionals responsible for the education of undergraduate and graduate art and design students, the faculty of the School of Art adheres to the ethical standards and practices incorporated in the professional Code of Ethics of our national accreditation organization, The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Open Studio Hours
SOA teaching studios are open to students for extended periods of time mornings, evenings and weekends whenever classes are not in progress. Policies, procedures and schedules for studio use are established by the SOA studio faculty and are posted in the studios.

Dates for Spring 2017:
February 18
March 25
April 18

  ArtsBus Credit:
* Each student must have up to 5 AVT 300/Artsbus credits before graduation. For credit to appear on your transcript you must enroll in AVT 300. This also applies to anyone who intends to travel to New York independently, or do the DC Alternate Assignment.
* If you plan/need to go on multiple ArtsBus trips during a semester and need them towards your total requirement, you must enroll in multiple sections of AVT 300. Please go to the ArtsBus website: "Student Information" for additional, very important information regarding ArtsBus policy.
* Non-AVT majors taking art classes do not need Artsbus credit BUT may need to go on the Artsbus for a class assignment. You can either sign up for AVT 300 or buy a ticket for the bus trip at the Center of the Arts. Alternate trips must be approved by the instructor of the course that is requiring an ArtsBus trip.

Visual Voices Lecture Series
Dates for Spring 2017:
January 26
February 9
March 9
March 23
March 30

Visual Voices is a year-long series of lectures by artists, art historians and others about contemporary art and art practice. Visual Voices lectures are held on Thursday evenings from 7:20- 9:00 p.m. in Harris Theater:
Important Deadlines

January 1 Day of Week


Martin Luther King Day (no classes)

Mon Jan 16

First day of classes; last day to submit Domicile Reclassification Application; Payment Due Date; full semester waitlists removed

Mon Jan 23

Last day to add classes—all individualized section forms due
Last day to drop with no tuition penalty

Mon Jan 30

Last day to drop with a 33% tuition penalty

Mon Feb 13

Final Drop Deadline (67% tuition penalty)

Fri Feb 24

Immunization Record Deadline

Wed Mar 1

Midterm progress reporting period (100-200 level classes)—grades available via Patriot Web

Mon Feb 20 – Fri Mar 24

Selective Withdrawal Period (undergraduate students only)

Mon Feb 27 – Fri Mar 31

Spring Break

Mon Mar 13 – Sun Mar 19

Incomplete work from Fall 2016 due to Instructor

Fri March 31

Incomplete grade changes from Fall 2016 due to Registrar

Fri April 7

Dissertation/Thesis Deadline

Fri May 5

Last day of classes

Sat May 6

Reading Days
Reading days provide students with additional study time for final examinations. Faculty may schedule optional study sessions, but regular classes or exams may not be held.

Mon May 8 – Tue May 9

Exam Period (beginning at 7:30 a.m.)

Wed May 10 – Wed May 17

Commencement and Degree Conferral Date

May 20

Once the add and drop deadlines have passed, instructors do not have the authority to approve requests from students to add or drop/withdraw late. Requests for late adds (up until the last day of classes) must be made by the student in the SOA office (or the office of the department offering the course), and generally are only approved in the case of a documented university error (such as a problem with financial aid being processed) , LATE ADD fee will apply. Requests for non-selective withdrawals and retroactive adds (adds after the last day of classes) must be approved by the academic dean of the college in which the student’s major is located. For AVT majors, that is the CVPA Office of Academic Affairs, Performing Arts Building A407.

Students with Disabilities and Learning Differences
If you have a diagnosed disability or learning difference and you need academic accommodations, please inform me at the beginning of the semester and contact the Disabilities Resource Center (SUB I room 234, 703-993-2474). You must provide me with a faculty contact sheet from that office outlining the accommodations needed for your disability or learning difference. All academic accommodations must be arranged in advance through the DRC.

Official Communications via GMU E-Mail
Mason uses electronic mail to provide official information to students. Examples include communications from course instructors, notices from the library, notices about academic standing, financial aid information, class materials, assignments, questions, and instructor feedback. Students are responsible for the content of university communication sent to their Mason e-mail account, and are required to activate that account and check it regularly.

Attendance Policies
Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. In-class participation is important not only to the individual student, but also to the class as a whole. Because class participation may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of nonparticipation. Students who miss an exam with an acceptable excuse may be penalized according to the individual instructor's grading policy, as stated in the course syllabus.

Honor Code
Students in this class are bound by the Honor Code, as stated in the George Mason University Catalog. The honor code requires that the work you do as an individual be the product of your own individual synthesis or integration of ideas. (This does not prohibit collaborative work when it is approved by your instructor.) As a faculty member, I have an obligation to refer the names of students who may have violated the Honor Code to the Student Honor Council, which treats such cases very seriously. No grade is important enough to justify cheating, for which there are serious consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life. If you feel unusual pressure about your grade in this or any other course, please talk to me or to a member of the GMU Counseling Center staff.

Using someone else’s words or ideas without giving them credit is plagiarism, a very serious Honor Code offense. It is very important to understand how to prevent committing plagiarism when using material from a source. If you wish to quote verbatim, you must use the exact words and punctuation just as the passage appears in the original and must use quotation marks and page numbers in your citation. If you want to paraphrase or summarize ideas from a source, you must put the ideas into your own words, and you must cite the source, using the APA or MLA format. (For assistance with documentation, I recommend Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference.) The exception to this rule is information termed general knowledge—information that is widely known and stated in a number of sources. Determining what is general knowledge can be complicated, so the wise course is, “When in doubt, cite.”

Be especially careful when using the Internet for research. Not all Internet sources are equally reliable; some are just plain wrong. Also, since you can download text, it becomes very easy to inadvertently plagiarize. If you use an Internet source, you must cite the exact URL in your paper and include with it the last date that you successfully accessed the site.

Writing Center
Students who are in need of intensive help with grammar, structure or mechanics in their writing should make use of the services of Writing Center, located in Robinson A116 (703-993-1200). The services of the Writing Center are available by appointment, online and, occasionally, on a walk-in basis.
The Collaborative Learning Hub Located in Johnson Center 311 (703-993-3141), the lab offers in-person one-on-one support for the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, Blackboard, and a variety of other software. Dual monitor PCs make the lab ideal for collaborating on group projects, Macs are also available; as well as a digital recording space, collaborative tables, and a SMART Board. Free workshops are also available (Adobe and Microsoft) through Training and Certification; visit to see the schedule of workshops and to sign up.