HIST 17B: United States History from 1865 (Summer 2020)

Section 01

Instructor: Matthew S Luckett, Ph.D.

Email: m + last name at SierraCollege dot edu

Website: www.lucketthistory.com

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2pm-4pm (available via Zoom – click here to access)

Course Description

History of the United States from 1865 to the present. Emphasis on national political, economic, intellectual, and social trends and their impact on constitutional law; industrialization and urbanization; evolution of American ethnic, cultural and racial pluralism; and role of United States in world affairs. Also addresses California state and local issues in a broad, national context.

In a traditional class room, the common, communal experience for students in the course is attending lectures. I will try to recreate that type of communal experience here through reading and by structuring the course around three specific books: Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn, Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi, and Max Brooks’s World War Z. In some ways this will be a class structured around an online, informal book club.

Required Textbooks

We have FOUR required books for this class. The good news is that none of them are traditional (and therefore EXPENSIVE) textbooks, so you can get them cheaply. But you will need to buy all of them. 

Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (ISBN: 9780307346612 preferred, but any edition will do)

Kenneth C. Davis, Don’t Know Much about History, Anniversary Edition: Everything You Need to Know about American History but Never Learned (ISBN: 9780061960543 preferred, but any edition will do)

Timothy Egan, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (ISBN: 9780547394602 preferred, but any edition will do)

Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi (ISBN: 9780440314882 preferred, but any edition will do)

Read more about the books we will be reading here: About the Books

If you can’t buy them all at once, you can purchase them in the following order:

1. Davis and Egan (order ASAP)

2. Moody (order for use by week 4)

3. Brooks (order for use by week 6)

Understanding the Week

New material, including lectures, assignments and discussion board questions will be available to you each Monday by noon. This material will be divided into six units with two being presented each week for the first three weeks. The final two weeks of the training will be devoted to your online syllabus preparation and how the beginning steps of developing your new online course. 

What Day Is It?
Day One is Monday – Start new Module. Professor Grading Day
Day Two is Tuesday. Lecture day (see Lecture Schedule)
Day Three is Wednesday. Lecture day
Day Four is Thursday. Lecture Day
Day Five is Friday – Initial weekly postings to the discussion board due
Day Six is Saturday
Day Seven is Sunday – Quizzes and discussion board replies due.

Navigating the Course

I want you all to understand what the left side navigation links will take you to within this course. Some class materials and assignments can be accessed multiple ways . . . don’t let that confuse you! When in doubt, visit the weekly module page and it will give you a run-down of what all needs to be done.

  • The Home link is the entrance page of the course. On this page you will be able to access the weekly modules as they become available.
  • The next link is the Announcements page and will be updated with key bits of information that I want to share with you. Check this out on a regular basis.
  • Next you will find the Modules links. Each week corresponds to a different Module, which in turn contains that week’s Big Picture lectures (both text and podcast), primary source links, discussion board questions, and a link to that week’s quiz.
  • The Quizzes link will also contain the weekly quizzes.
  • The next area is Discussions which is the area where your “classroom community” will be developed. You can also access your discussion boards here.
  • The next link is the Assignments link. This page contains the Midterm and Final Exam information and the upload link.
  • The Grades link will be the area where you will find your grades and feedback that I will provide on assignments.
  • The People page contains a list of students in the class, as well as instructor information. 
  • The last three links will take you to our Student Support resources – the Sierra College Library, Tutor.com 24/7 Online Tutoring, and Office 365. 

Discussion Board

This assignment deserves a section all of its own since it is the heart and soul of an online class! The more you participate, the more you’ll take away from any class. I strongly encourage you to be active at the board! There will be several questions posted on the Discussion Board each week. These questions will relate to the topics covered in the lectures and the primary sources. You will be required to respond to both questions by Friday of each week. In addition, you will be required to respond to two of your peers comments by Sunday at midnight. However, be sure to check the board throughout the week to see what comments others have made in the class and respond wherever you want to. I want you all to contribute to the rich dialogue that can take place in the DB and feel that sense of community that can take develop! 

Class Attendance

The true beauty of online education is that you can take or teach a course from any place at any time! But don’t confuse that with not actively participating in your course. I encourage you to login to the course at least three times during the first three weeks and as often as necessary to complete your work the last two. In order to receive the most out this training you will find that you need to participate in the discussions regularly.

Course Outcomes

  • Differentiate primary and secondary sources and how each are used to make historical claims.
  • Analyze the role of geography in economic and political changes.
  • Compose coherent, persuasive academic historical arguments using correct academic citation methods.
  • Investigate major political, economic and social changes with emphasis on culture, race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Students may vary in their competency levels on these abilities. You can expect to acquire these abilities only if you honor course policies, attend classes regularly, complete all assigned work in good faith and on time, and meet all other course expectations of you as a student.

Course Objectives

  1. Analyze the origins of the American Constitution and its impact on American cultural and political developments with an emphasis on race, class, gender and ethnicity.
  2. Compose coherent, persuasive historical argument using correct academic citation methods.
  3. Differentiate primary and secondary sources and how each are used to make historical claims.
  4. Analyze the role of geography in the economic and political development in America and its place in a global context.
  5. Investigate major political, economic and social change in the United States with emphasis on the role of racial and/or ethnic minority groups.

Course Expectations

Seven components of this class will contribute to your overall grade: the Introduction and Check-in assignment, the Syllabus Quiz, discussion board participation, weekly content quizzes, weekly book quizzes, the California State government scavenger quiz, and a take-home final.

Introduction and Check-in (25 points) – During the first week, you will need to respond to the Introduce Yourself! discussion board thread and follow the directions therein. This is due by June 14th at 11:59pm. It is important that you do this – if you do not, you may be dropped from the class!

Syllabus Quiz (25 points) – During the first week, you will need to complete a syllabus quiz that covers the material on this page and your ability to navigate the course. It is due by June 14th at 11:59pm. It is important that you do this – if you do not, you may be dropped from the class!

Discussion Board (thirty questions, 5 points each, lowest 10 graded questions dropped, 100 points total) – Each week, I will post several questions on the class discussion board that ask you to analyze and interpret what we are reading that week. Some questions will be about the textbook readings, while others will be on primary sources that I post that week for students to interpret. Primary sources may include short readings, videos, artwork, or even songs. Students should answer each question with a 100-150 word post (this paragraph has exactly 159 words) that uses the assigned source in order to argue their point. Students should then reply to at least two of their classmates’ posts in a way that critically addresses the points made in the original post. In other words, each question requires an original post as well as two replies. This will be a credit/no-credit assignment. All discussion posts are due Friday at midnight, and all replies to classmates are due by Sunday at midnight.

Content quizzes (six quizzes, 25 points each, lowest two quiz grades are dropped, 100 points total) – Each week, I will post a twenty-five question (multiple choice/true-false) quiz on that week’s lecture content. I will drop the lowest score. There is a 30 minute time limit.

Book quizzes (six quizzes, 25 points each, lowest two quiz grades are dropped, 100 points total) –Each week, I will post a quiz (mixed multiple choice, true and false) on that week’s book content. I will drop the lowest score. There is a forty-five minute time limit. Students get one chance to retake the quiz, but should be aware that some of the questions on the second quiz will be different. The higher score of the two attempts will be used for grading purposes. Read more about the book quizzes here: About the Book Quizzes.

California Government Scavenger Hunt Quiz (50 points) – One of the requirements for (or quirks about) this particular class is that we cover the California State government requirement for the California Community College system. In order to fulfill this requirement AND to help you all become more resourceful information consumers, I have posted a ten-question, fifty point, no time-limit quiz  that contains a series of questions about the State of California. Each question contains a link to the site that contains that information (though you may have to click a couple of times or enter in some non-personal information to get to the answer). This is due on the last day of class (July 24), but you can complete it at any time. Retakes are allowed on this quiz, so take it as many times as you need to and get the full 50 points. 

Take-Home Final (one exam, 100 points) – Students must complete a take-home final by the end of the semester. These will require a researched, typed, and proofed responses to one of the three essay questions posted in the Final Exam assignment. It will require an approximately 1,250 word response. Each question will require the use of multiple class elements: lectures, textbook readings, and  at least one of the three main books we will read in class.

Students should treat these essays like any other formal paper – although students should be able to answer the questions using only course lectures and materials, they should endeavor to polish their writing and organize their papers around a thesis statement. These will be submitted through the appropriate Turnitin.com links on the course website.

A total of 500 points are available in this class! Check how well you’re doing by monitoring your progress on the Grades page.


No makeup quizzes or discussion board questions will be administered. Extra credit: complete the Extra Credit discussion boards. Each one is worth 5 points.

Course Policies

Outside of office hours, I am generally available through email.  In most cases, I try to answer all emails within 24 hours of receipt, except on weekends. Since most weekends are consumed with home, family, and personal business, I am generally not available between Friday evening and early Monday morning. However, on Sundays I will monitor my email in case of any quiz-related issues.


All students should remain respectful of each other at all times. You can criticize your classmates’ ideas, but attacking classmates directly will not be tolerated. Please click on the link below to access a handy guide on netiquette for online courses.


Grade Turn-Around

I will do my best to grade all course assignments (including discussion board posts and written papers) within one week of submission. My usual grading day is Monday, which means that I will be busy answering emails and grading papers on Mondays. If mitigating circumstances conspire to make me miss this deadline, I will let you know and provide a revised timetable.

Plagiarism Policy

Sierra College, as a community-oriented, open-door, educational institution whose purpose is to educate and enlighten those members of the community who seek knowledge, cannot and will not tolerate academic dishonesty. In order to uphold the academic integrity of the institution, all members of the academic community, faculty and students alike, must assume responsibility for providing an educational environment of the highest standards characterized by a spirit of academic honesty; therefore, given this premise, under no circumstances will academic dishonesty be tolerated at this institution. For more information on how historians define plagiarism, check out the American Historical Association’s webpage on “Defining Plagiarism,” located here: https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/teaching-resources-for-historians/plagiarism-curricular-materials-for-history-instructors/defining-plagiarism. 

Please note that your final exam MUST be submitted via the appropriate Canvas link to Turnitin.com. I will NOT grade the assignment if it does not reside within the appropriate Turnitin.com inbox. It will simply not exist within the context of our class.

Please read the following excerpt from the Student Catalog for more info: http://catalog.sierracollege.edu/student-resources/academic-standards-policies-procedures/students-rights-responsibilities/honesty-academic-work/

Title IX Safety and Security

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs, including athletic programs, or activities that receive federal funding.

Title IX protects all students from sex-based discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived sex, gender identity and/or gender expression. Title IX is a powerful tool that helps colleges and universities address campus violence, respond effectively to the needs of victims of sexual violence, and provide a safe learning environment for all students.

Sierra College prohibits all forms of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination. Such conduct violates Sierra College policies and may violate California law. Students or employees who engage in such behavior are subject to disciplinary and possible legal consequences.

Under Title IX, discrimination and sexual violence can include:

Title IX Officer:

LaToya Jackson, Director – EEO, Diversity and Title IX

Student Services

Take advantage of the many helpful resources Sierra offers to help you on your journey to success. Learn more about our various Student Services below, including Financial AidCounseling, TutoringCampus Life opportunities and more.

Need help? Visit The Hub or our Sierra Solutions Knowledge Base to find answers.

You can also visit the Student Services website by clicking this link: https://www.sierracollege.edu/student-services/index.php.

Course Schedule

For the week starting . . .We will discuss . . .And during the week you should read . . .Class Notes/ Assignments Due:
June 8 (Week 1)Intro to History  
June 15 (Week 2)Late-Nineteenth Century AmericaEgan, pp.1 – 153 
June 22 (Week 3)The Progressive EraEgan, pp.154 – 286 
June 29 (Week 4)Great Depression and World War II Moody, pp. 1 – 198 
July 6 (Week 5)Cold War and Civil RightsMoody, pp. 199 – 424
July 13 (Week 6)Late-Twentieth Century AmericaBrooks, pp.1 – 186 
July 20 (Week 7)Using History to Make Sense of the PresentBrooks, pp.187 – 342Final Exam is due July 26th