Statement on Academic Integrity and Misconduct
(accepted by SKSM Faculty, 12/12/2017)
Starr King School for the Ministry considers the conduct of research and academic scholarship to be moral and political work. Since the beginning of the term’s use in the West, “research” has always been connected to European colonialism as scientists and colonial powers sought to define, appropriate, commodify and disseminate knowledge about indigenous communities as well as exploit nature. Academic research has also been marred by the intersection of sexism, racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia and Christian supremacist views.
As a part of our purpose in educating to counter oppressions (ECO), we are committed to help our students understand the history of academic inquiry and knowledge production that depends upon and perpetuates colonialism, white supremacy, systemic violence, and multiple forms of oppressions. We actively dispute ideas of neutrality or objectivity in the creation of discourse and the categorization of sources of knowledge as “academic,” “logical,” or “original.”
Engaged in critical pedagogical approaches to research and praxis, we also are committed to teaching our students the history and methodologies of indigenous and emancipatory scholarship across the curriculum. We embrace the notion that what is acceptable or not acceptable knowledge is better determined by a community than by a Western neoliberal framework.
From these commitments, we understand academic integrity to be the intentional and honest practice of inquiry and reflection on one’s own reading, thinking, and writing. This can be further specified as:
- Investigating the relationships between selected sources of knowledge and the history of white, Western power in producing knowledge, as well as the counterhistories and narratives of indigenous and historically marginalized people;
- Identifying the privileging of Western knowledge systems and the turning of indigenous and historically marginalized people into objects of study;
- Engaging with sources of indigenous knowledge or scholars from historically marginalized groups;
- Reflecting thoughtfully on one’s own social location in relation to the production of knowledge, academic imaginations of oppression and liberation, as well as the implications of one’s written work.1
Academic integrity requires graduate students to uphold several expectations related to their work:
- Completion of Assignments: Any work submitted should reflect work that you completed according to the specific assignment provided by your instructor. If you are unclear about expectations related an assignment or written work, ask your instructor. Sometimes topics and work overlap in more than one course, or you may wish to expand upon your previous thinking and writing. Request permission from your instructor to re-use material from another course in their course.
- Attribution: All written work must use proper attribution, meaning that you have identified the source, words and ideas that you reproduce, paraphrase (summarize) or otherwise, use in your assignment or to develop your thinking. This includes drafts and homework assignments. Individual instructors may have their own requirements for the citation styles; for reference, there are multiple resources available online (such as the ).
- Collaboration: Collaboration and dialogue with other students are helpful as you study for your courses. However, do not collaborate with other students on a specific assignment unless you have been given permission or instructed to do so. If you collaborate with another student on an assignment, decide with your collaborators how you will cite shared or individual contributions. Leave significant room for listening and reflection.
Our school upholds a high standard not only in terms of academic quality appropriate for theological schools, but also with regards to our ECO commitments that extend beyond the minimum expectations for academic conduct and written student work, described above.
Academic misconduct is behavior that violates the minimum expectations of participation in the academic life of the school. Individual incidents of misconduct, including academic misconduct, cause a breaking of trust between a student and their instructor, as well as their fellow students and other members of the school community. We identify behavior or actions as misconduct, when they fit one of the following categories:
- Cheating: fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in an academic assignment, or using or attempting to use materials that are prohibited or inappropriate in the context of an academic assignment.
- Plagiarism: use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source.Please review the section on plagiarism in the SKSM Student Handbook 2017-2018.
- False Information or Fabrication: failing to identify oneself honestly, fabricating or altering information and presenting it as legitimate, or providing false or misleading information to an instructor or any other staff member in an academic context.
- Theft or Damage of Intellectual Property: sabotaging or stealing another person’s work, improper access to or electronically interfering with the property of another person or the school or obtaining a copy of an exam or assignment prior to its approved release.
- Alteration of Documents: forgery of an instructor or supervisor’s signature, submitting an altered transcript of grades to or from another institution or employer, putting one’s name on another person’s work, or falsely altering a previously graded exam or assignment.
Instructors who suspect a student has cheated, fabricated, plagiarized, forged, altered/misused school documents, or facilitated some other form of dishonesty will address the issue with the student directly. If the suspicion is confirmed as a form of misconduct, the instructor will work with the core faculty to determine the best course of action, which could include (but is not limited to) Academic Probation. If the issue is disputed, the student or instructor may follow the procedures listed under “Academic Disputes” in the Student Handbook.
1 Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, “Introduction: Critical Methodologies and Indigenous Inquiry,” in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, edited by Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, 1-20. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2008.