GEOG 497C
GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications

GEOG 497C Syllabus

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GEOG 497C - Geographic Information Systems for Transportation (GIS-T): Principles, Data, and Applications

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. That said, it is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the course orientation. Together, these serve the role of our course "contract."


Instructor

JD Kronicz

John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16082

E-mail: Students are welcome to contact me via e-mail at any time. I will usually respond within 24 hours (Saturdays and Sundays may vary). Please use the course e-mail system (see the Inbox in Canvas).

Phone / Skype: While e-mail correspondence should cover the majority of questions and comments that arise, you are welcome to schedule a time to chat with me by phone or Skype as well.


Course Overview

Geography 497C is an elective course in the Penn State Master of Geographic Information Systems degree program. In this course, we will explore the important role GIS plays in the transportation industry. This interdisciplinary field is often referred to GIS-T. There is a natural synergy between GIS and transportation and, as a result, GIS-T has given rise to a number of specialized techniques and a wide variety of applications.

To appreciate the value GIS brings to the transportation industry, you need to have some understanding of the business of transportation and the challenges and problems those of us in the industry face. Consequently, we will learn about a number of subdisciplines within transportation and examine how GIS has been applied to each. We will also explore some of the key organizations in the transportation industry who use GIS and learn firsthand from transportation professionals, representing a variety of specialized fields, about the role GIS plays for them.

Throughout the course, we’ll study some GIS concepts and techniques which are fundamental to transportation, such as transportation networks and linear referencing systems. In addition, you will have the opportunity to explore a number of GIS applications and tools related to transportation. One tool, in particular, that you will develop some proficiency with is ESRI’s Network Analyst which is an extension to ArcGIS.

Due to the sheer breadth of the transportation industry, we’ll limit our studies to a couple of the largest application areas: highway and transit. Further, we’ll focus our attention on the U.S. transportation industry, although much of what we cover is applicable to transportation around the world.


What will be expected of you?

As in any graduate level course, you will be challenged to move beyond the knowledge and skills that you bring to the class. You can expect to be busy; as a rough estimate, you should allow 10-12 hours per week for class assignment and other class activities.

To help you get into a rhythm in the course, the lessons have been designed to follow a regular pattern in terms of structure and expectations. Most weeks, you will be expected to complete the following activities:

  • learn about the core topic of the lesson and complete some related assignments;
  • explore an organization which plays an important role in the transportation industry;
  • participate in a weekly webinar with a transportation professional, and prepare the next webinar;
  • interact with a classmate (or me) in a one-on-one discussion.

In each lesson, we will cover a specific topic pertaining to GIS-T. You will be given a reading assignment(s) and / or be asked to view one or more videos or webcasts and write a summary of what you learned or respond to some specific questions. In addition, most weeks, you will be asked to complete hands-on exercises to give you some practical experience with some of the principles we’re covering.

Throughout the course, you’ll spend time exploring a variety of organizations which play an important role in transportation. We'll examine some of the key functions these organizations serve as well as current initiatives in which they are engaged. We'll also look for ways in which these organizations use and / or contribute to GIS-T.

Beginning in the second week, you will have the opportunity to participate in a weekly webinar with a transportation professional. During each webinar, the speaker will talk about the specific field in transportation in which he or she specializes and explore the value that GIS offers to them in accomplishing their objectives. It is expected that you will make every effort to participate in these weekly webinars. In the event that you have a conflict which will prevent you from attending a webinar or if your time zone is such that the webinar will take place at an impractical local time, please let me know as soon as possible so we can make alternate arrangements.

A significant portion of your grade will be based on class participation. This participation will take a couple of forms. First, you will be expected to make meaningful and thoughtful contributions to class discussions and assist your classmates with any questions or problems they encounter. When it comes to this component of class participation, quality is more important than quantity. The second component of class participation will be based primarily on your participation in weekly one-on-one video conferences with your classmates and me. In these informal meetings, we will explore each other’s backgrounds, skills, and interests and discuss lesson topics.

As is the case with any class you take, how much you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me, as well as with your classmates.

For a more detailed look at what will be covered in each lesson, as well as due dates for our assignments and activities, please refer to the semester-specific course schedule that is part of this syllabus (see "Course Schedule").

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, you should be able to:

  • define the scope of GIS-T and describe some of the tools and techniques unique to the field;
  • describe some of the major subdisciplines within the transportation industry and provide examples of how GIS has been used to address concerns specific to that area;
  • discuss the structure and responsibilities of some organizations whose mission is focused in whole or in part on the transportation industry;
  • employ ESRI’s Network Analyst to construct a network dataset and solve a variety of transportation problems;
  • describe the background, skills, and interests of your classmates.


Required Course Materials

There are no required books to purchase. All reading materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in Canvas. In order to access the online materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

In this course, we will use ESRI’s ArcGIS and, in particular, the Network Analyst extension to complete a number of assignments. Everyone in our program is entitled to a student license for ArcGIS Desktop software and the associated extensions. Please be sure that you request a license code for ArcGIS and install the software before the course begins. To do so, visit the following site (https://courseware.e-education.psu.edu/mgisdb/software.php), confirm that your e-mail address is correct, and click the link to Request ArcGIS Desktop Software. Shortly thereafter, you will receive an e-mail from our office with your license code and installation instructions. If you don't receive the e-mail with your code within a few days, please contact me.

In order to complete some of the assignments, you will also need to have a web camera and a microphone. It is your responsibility to be comfortable in using these devices. If you are not experienced in the use of your webcam and microphone, use the orientation week to familiarize yourself with them.


Assignments and Grading

Your grade will reflect the extent to which you achieve the learning objectives listed above as demonstrated by your performance on course assignments. Your graded activities in the course can be divided into the following four components, each of which will account for a specific percentage of your grade:

  • Lesson Topic Assignments: Each week, you will be given assignments which pertain to the main topics of the lesson. Each assignment will fall into one of two categories. The first category of assignment will ask you to read an article or white paper and / or watch an online video or webcast and submit a summary of what you learned or respond to specific questions. The second category of assignment will ask you to complete some hands-on exercises which are intended to provide you with some practical experience relating to the lesson topics. Lesson topic assignments will account for 35% of your grade.
  • Guest Speaker Webinars: Each week (except for Week One) you will be expected to participate in a webinar with a transportation professional who uses or relies on GIS to accomplish their duties and meet organizational objectives. In the week prior to a webinar, you will be asked to review the biography of the upcoming speaker, explore some background material relevant to the webinar topic and submit thoughtful questions for the speaker to address. During the week of the webinar, you will attend and participate in the webinar and submit a write-up summarizing what you learned. In the event you will be unable to participate in one or more webinars, you should contact me ahead of time so alternate accommodations can be made. Guest speaker webinar activities will account for 30% of your grade.
  • Transportation Organization Assessments: Each week, you will be asked to assess an organization who plays an important role in the transportation industry. These activities will help you to expand your knowledge of transportation, develop some appreciation for the types of challenges and problems which are encountered in the industry, and consider the role that GIS plays in these organizations. Transportation organization assessments will constitute 15% of your grade.
  • Class Participation: You will interact with and learn about your fellow classmates through a series of structured activities throughout the course. In Week 1, you will create a video autobiography and in Week 2, you will review the autobiographies of your classmates. In Weeks 3 through 10, you will participate in a weekly one-on-one discussion with a classmate according to a schedule I will provide. These discussions are designed to overcome some of the barriers to communication which can exist in an online course and will enable students to get to know each other, discuss course topics, and expand their professional network of contacts. You will also be expected to actively participate in lesson discussions forums by providing thoughtful comments and questions and answering questions posted by your classmates. Class participation makes up 20% of your grade.

At the beginning of each lesson, a table is provided summarizing each assignment. These tables also identify with which of the four course components the assignment is associated and the total possible points for the assignment.

Letter Grade and Corresponding Percentages
Letter Grade Percentage Range
A 90-100%
A- 87.5-89.9%
B+ 85-87.4%
B 80-84.9%
B- 77.5-79.9%
C+ 75-77.4%
C 70-74.9%
D 60-69.9%
F <60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points you earn.


GEOG 497C Course Schedule

image Printable Schedule

Course length: 10 weeks

Below, you will find a summary of each lesson. More in-depth assignment information will be located on each lesson's checklist and in Canvas - so, you will need to check there for the full set of details and deliverables. Sometimes, the details for each lesson can change, and it's possible that the syllabus may not be updated as quickly as the lesson checklists and Canvas, so always check specific lesson checklists and Canvas for the latest details. This course is 10 weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Each lesson is one week long and opens on Wednesday. The lessons each have a similar structure and will generally consist of the following 5 elements:

  • Lesson Topic – You will review assigned content for the lesson topic and complete one or more activities / exercises related to the topic.
  • Transportation Organization – You will explore an organization which plays an important role in the transportation industry.
  • Weekly Webinar – You will participate in a weekly webinar with a transportation professional.
  • Next Week’s Webinar – You will prepare for the upcoming webinar.
  • Class Participation – You should contribute to lesson discussions and participate in a one-on-one video conference with a classmate (or me).
Lesson 0: Orientation
Date Week 0 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics

Orientation

Assigned Content Course Orientation
Assignments Complete the steps outlined in our site orientation. (Required!)
Lesson 1: Overview of GIS-T
Date Week 1 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • The relationship between GIS and transportation
  • The continuing evolution of GIS-T
  • An overview of the U. S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Traveler Information Systems (background for next week’s webinar)
Lesson Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • characterize the relationship between GIS and transportation and explain why GIS-T is such an active field;
  • discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for GIS-T in the 21st century;
  • list some modes of transportation and discuss the meaning and significance of modal competition, modal shift, and containerization;
  • state the mission and some of the most important functions of the U. S. Department of Transportation (USDOT);
  • discuss some emerging technologies in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the objectives and features of traveler information systems.
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Read GIS in the 21st Century, and submit a write-up which addresses some specific questions.
  • Learn about the various modes of transportation, and discuss the concepts of modal competition, modal shift, and containerization.
  • Review the USDOT website and respond to some specific questions.
  • Create a 3-5 minute video autobiography.
  • Submit a review of Pennsylvania's 511 Traveler Information System.
  • Submit some questions for next week’s speaker: Doug Tomlinson.
Lesson 2: Roadway Data
Date Week 2 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • Commercial and non-commercial sources of roadway data
  • An overview of the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Cultural resources and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • compare and contrast the different sources of roadway data which are available;
  • describe the products and services the Census Bureau maintains which are important to transportation and GIS-T;
  • explain the purpose of Section 106 of the NHPA and describe how it impacts transportation projects;
  • list some details about your classmates based on your review of their video autobiographies.
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on roadway data.
  • Complete an exercise using TIGER data.
  • Respond to some questions about the Census Bureau.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on Section 106 of the NHPA and cultural resource GIS applications and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Respond to the video autobiographies submitted by your classmates.
Lesson 3: Geocoding
Date Week 3 (see Canvas for specific dates).
Topics
  • Types of geocoding and geocoding services
  • Constructing and using address locators
  • An overview of Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs)
  • Transportation planning (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • compare and contrast the different geocoding methodologies;
  • understand how to create and use an address locator;
  • state the mission and key functions of an MPO and RPO;
  • describe the nature of transportation planning which state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) perform;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g., background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on geocoding.
  • Construct an address locator using TIGER data.
  • Respond to some questions about MPOs and RPOs.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on transportation planning and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
Lesson 4: Transportation Networks
Date Week 4 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • Characteristics of a transportation network
  • Creating a network dataset
  • An overview of the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA)
  • Linking Planning and NEPA (LPN) (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • describe the elements which comprise a transportation network;
  • create a network dataset;
  • state the mission and key functions of the FHWA​;
  • discuss the benefits of LPN initiatives;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g., background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on transportation networks.
  • Construct a network dataset from road features.
  • Respond to some questions about the FHWA​.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on LPN and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
Lesson 5: Network Analysis
Date Week 5 (see Canvas for specific dates).
Topics
  • Transportation questions which can be addressed through network analysis
  • Using Network Analyst to solve network analysis problems
  • An overview of state DOTs
  • Linear Referencing Systems (LRS), dynamic segmentation and Straight Line Diagrams (SLD) (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • recognize and characterize problems which can be solved using network analysis;
  • solve network analysis problems using Network Analyst;
  • state the mission and key functions of a state DOT;
  • briefly describe the characteristics of an LRS and an SLD and the process of dynamic segmentation;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g. background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on network analysis.
  • Complete some network analysis exercises.
  • Respond to some questions about state DOTs.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on LRS, SLDs. and dynamic segmentation and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate
Lesson 6: Linear Referencing Systems
Date Week 6 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • Linear Referencing Systems (LRS), Linear Referencing Methods (LRM) and dynamic segmentation
  • Straight Line Diagrams (SLDs)
  • An overview of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
  • Highway safety and crash analysis (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • define an LRS and compare and contrast an LRS and an LRM;
  • describe the process of dynamic segmentation;
  • discuss the characteristics of a Straight Line Diagram (SLD);
  • state the mission and key functions of AASHTO;
  • broadly characterize the process of highway safety analysis;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g., background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on LRS, SLDs and dynamic segmentation.
  • Complete an exercise on LRS and dynamic segmentation.
  • Explore and summarize one of AASHTO's programs.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on highway safety and crash analysis and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
Lesson 7: Highway Safety
Date Week 7 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • Approaches to prioritizing roads for safety improvements
  • Collecting, processing and analyzing crash data
  • The Highway Safety Manual (HSM)
  • GIS applications used for highway safety and crash analysis
  • An overview of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Traffic Data Collection, Analysis, and Reporting (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • contrast and compare the two primary approaches to prioritizing roadways for safety improvements;
  • describe the process for collecting, characterizing and analyzing crash data;
  • characterize the role of GIS in highway safety analysis;
  • state the mission and key functions of the NHTSA;
  • broadly state the importance of traffic counts to state DOTs;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g. background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on highway safety analysis and crash data.
  • Complete an exercise using crash data.
  • Respond to some questions about NHTSA.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on traffic data, and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
Lesson 8: Traffic
Date Week 8 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • Traffic Data: Collection, Analysis and Reporting
  • An overview of FHWA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R)
  • Passenger Information Systems (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • describe the manner in which traffic counts are collected, analyzed and reported;
  • characterize the value GIS brings to managing and analyzing traffic counts;
  • state the mission and key functions of the OST-R;
  • describe the nature of a passenger information system;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g., background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on traffic data collection, analysis and reporting.
  • Complete an exercise using traffic data.
  • Respond to some questions about OST-R.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on passenger information systems, and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
Lesson 9: Transit Part I (Real Time Passenger Information)
Date Week 9 (see Canvas for specific dates).
Topics
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Automated Vehicle Location (AVL)
  • Passenger information systems
  • The General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS)
  • Fixed route and paratransit services
  • An overview of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Transit Planning and Modeling (background for next week’s webinar)
Learning Objectives After this lesson, you should be able to:
  • describe the purpose and value of CAD / AVL to a transit agency;
  • explain how passenger information systems work, and identify the data they make available to transit users;
  • explain the purpose and composition of GTFS and the process for generating and publishing the data;
  • compare and contrast fixed route and paratransit services;
  • characterize the value GIS brings to managing transit operations and providing service information to riders;
  • state the mission and key functions of the FTA;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g., background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on CAD/AVL, passenger information systems and GTFS.
  • Complete a hands-on exercise assessing fares for paratransit trips based on shortest vs. fastest trips.
  • Respond to some questions about FTA.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Respond to assigned content on transit planning and submit questions for next week’s presenter.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
Lesson 10: Transit Part 2 (Planning and Modeling)
Date Week 10 (see Canvas for specific dates)
Topics
  • Transit planning objectives, processes and tools
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and its importance in transit planning
  • American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
Learning Objectives After this lesson you should be able to:
  • describe the process and purpose of transit planning;
  • explain how Title VI of the Civil Rights Act relates to transit planning;
  • contrast and compare a number of transit service options using TBEST;
  • characterize the value GIS brings to transit planning;
  • state the mission and key functions of APTA;
  • list some things you have learned about one of your classmates (e.g. background, skills, interests, thoughts on the lesson topic).
Assigned Content See Lesson Detail/Canvas.
Assignments
  • Respond to assigned content on transit planning and complete an exercise using TBEST.
  • Respond to some questions about APTA.
  • Submit a summary of this week’s webinar.
  • Participate in a one-on-one discussion with a classmate.
  • Summarize your experiences with the weekly webinars you have participated in throughout the course.


Course Policies

Late Assignments

"Late" is defined as anything turned in after the date and time specified in the Course Calendar in Canvas. A flat penalty of 10% per assignment will be assessed. For example, if you do not turn in a 10 point writing assignment on time, 1 point will be deducted when you turn in that assignment. If you are more than 1 week late, you will not get any points for the assignment. For Lesson 10, all assignments must be turned in on time or you will not get any points. If you have truly extreme circumstances, let me know and we can discuss your circumstances.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on our "Program Technical Requirements" page. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable broadband Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or wireless hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure website, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our technical requirements page to view the mixed content.

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Disability Resources at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation, see Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Attendance

This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Disclaimer

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.