Would it be helpful to include a statement in my syllabus?
Instructors might consider including a statement in their syllabi (optional) along these lines:
Becoming a critical consumer of information is an important goal of a college education. During your time at FSU, and in this course, you should be honing your skills in evaluating evidence; understanding, analyzing, and critiquing other people’s arguments; and making your own. You should be learning about how people know what they know in your academic discipline (or major); what kinds of questions they tend to ask; what scholars tend to agree on, what they don’t, and why. When your peers and I share information with you, I hope you will read carefully, listen actively, and think critically about it, and share your perspectives with your peers and with me respectfully, and I hope you will do this in your life outside the classroom as well.
This course will introduce you to the wide range of views and perspectives that scholars and practitioners in this discipline hold. Your goal as a critical thinker is to develop skills that will enable you to interpret and assess the arguments and evidence that support these positions. My role as an instructor is to guide us through this material and to situate it in its proper historical and cultural contexts. I will do so in a way that is respectful of each of you, while also allowing for vigorous discussion and disagreement. I ask you to be a thoughtful, engaged, and active participant in this course and invite you to contact me to discuss any of the issues we cover in this class.
The instruction of this course is not intended to discriminate against any group or political viewpoint, and a robust discussion of views is expected and welcome. The materials and conduct of the course are intended to be inclusive of all students, and they are never meant to compel any particular political viewpoint or to make any student feel unequal or inadequate.