We have this opportunity because, to date, syllabi are almost completely unexploited resources. They are treated as ephemera of the teaching enterprise rather than as its DNA. – Open Syllabus Project Website
The Open Syllabus Project (OSP), in an effort to make academic assigned reading titles more transparent, has collected and extracted citations from over 1 million syllabi. The wealth of information and the insight this data provides, and will continue to provide as the project expands, helps us understand what is deemed most important in disciplines taught in academia. This “intellectual judgement” ultimately gets applied by students in their professional and work environments.
OSP acknowledges that this is not a new idea and that there have been various efforts made by other groups in the past. Most of these have been “piecemeal and informal.”
The FAQ section of the website helps in understanding the current limitations. For example, “Over time, the project needs individual faculty donations and access to institutional syllabus archives.” It gets its syllabi by “primarily…the crawling and scraping of publicly-accessible university websites,” and rescraping “the links in Dan Cohen’s ‘million syllabus’ database from 2005-2006 utilizing the Internet Archive’s Wayback machine.” Scraping efforts are planned to continue in 2016.
When going into the Open Syllabus Explorer, right off the bat you can view the top assigned titles. The top ten are:
The Elements of Style, Strunk
The Communist Manifesto, Marx
The Prince, Machiavelli
Clicking on the text title, will bring up a list of texts that have been assigned with that work. On the left side of the screen, you can browse via Field (discipline/subject), Institution, State, and Country filters.
The top ten for Business:
The most helpful feature is the search option. Using “supply chain” as the search term these top texts were revealed:
The OSP is comprised of several groups including researchers at Harvard, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Swarthmore College. The project is housed at The American Assembly at Columbia University.