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Communication Course Descriptions

COMM 102  Public Speaking and the Public Sphere  (4)

This course introduces students to the basic skills needed to present information to an audience clearly, effectively, and eloquently.  The class will study, analyze, and construct public speeches from a rhetorical perspective.  Students will ground their study of speechmaking in fundamental questions about the habits and skills of civic participation and the ethics of speech.  

COMM 103  Media and Society  (4)

This course will explore the functions and effects of mediated communication in society and on the individual.  Students will learn about the role of mediated communication in creating and dispersing knowledge and be introduced to some theoretical concepts needed to critically analyze mediated messages in advanced courses.  

COMM 105  Introduction to Human Communication  (4)

This course provides students with a general overview of communication theory and research, particularly as it relates to their everyday interactions. The course covers theories related to interpersonal, gender, group, organizational, and intercultural contexts.  

COMM 200  Public Speaking Basics  (2) 

This course is intended for education majors who need to fulfill the state requirements in oral communication. (Communication majors or minors should take COMM 102 - Public Speaking and the Public Sphere.) Through the study of theory and through applications, students will learn to understand the basic concepts of practical public speaking situations, including the development and delivery of informative and persuasive speeches.  

COMM 201  Rhetoric, Culture, and Criticism  (4)

This course will introduce students to the basic theories and practices needed to understand and critique rhetorical action.  The class will give students exposure to diverse theories of the relationship between language and power and provide opportunity for practice making judgments about specific moments of public expression: speeches, music, essays, and visual images. The intent of this class is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the academic study of rhetoric and with a skill that will help them make greater sense of how public messages matter in their lives today.  

COMM 205  Interpersonal Communication  (4)

Introduces students to basic principles and theories of interpersonal communication. Readings, discussion, and exercises facilitate understanding of interpersonal communication processes. Topics may include perception, self concept , verbal communication, listening, conflict, nonverbal cues, gender roles, family communication, culture, communication competence, and relationship development.  

COMM 212 Advanced Public Speaking  (4)

This class will further develop public speaking skills covered in COMM 102.  The course will involve frequent speaking assignments, viewing and reading of public addresses, and readings and discussions about the role of public discourse in shaping community.  Prerequisite: 102  

COMM 220  Debate  (2)

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of debate.  Students will learn argumentation and debate theory and develop research, organization, reasoning, refutation, and delivery skills.  Students will participate in classroom debates.  No previous debate training is expected.  

COMM 225  Argumentation and Advocacy  (4)

This course equips students with the skills and theory necessary to interpret, analyze, research, and construct arguments about matters of public concern. By learning about, practicing, and participating in argument, students understand, evaluate, and appreciate the communicative practices that constitute shared civic life.  

COMM 240  Communicating Effectively Using Applied Media Aesthetics  (4)

This course will examine the importance of encoding variables (production techniques) in creating effective media messages. Students will learn the principles of media aesthetics to both create and critique messages.  

COMM 245  Introduction to Media Writing  (4)

Students will learn to collect and analyze information to be used in message design; to construct clear and accurate messages that are appropriate to the purpose, audience, context, and media platform, under deadline pressure, and will be introduced to different types of media writing, with emphasis on online journalism and public relations. Prerequisite:  Successful completion of FYS or the equivalent.  

COMM 247  Advanced Media Writing  (4)

Students will extend their knowledge and ability to write clear, accurate messages for different mediated contexts, audiences, purposes and platforms by creating messages for one or more clients.  Prerequisite: Communication 245 or permission of instructor.  

COMM 248  Media & Children  (4)

This course examines the role of mediated communication in the lives of children and adolescents, acquainting students with theories and research pertinent to youth and the media. Students will assume a developmental perspective, and will assess claims made by various publics. The class includes a required service learning component. Prerequisite: 103.  

COMM 250  Effective Listening  (4)

Introduces students to basic principles and theories of listening. Approaches listening as a critical component in the communication process. Readings, discussion, and exercises facilitate understanding of effective listening and development of individual listening skills. Topics include discriminative, comprehensive, mindfulness, critical, therapeutic and appreciative listening.  

 COMM 251  Communication and Conflict  (4)

Introduces students to principles and theories of conflict. Examines causes of conflict and a variety of approaches to managing conflict. Emphasizes conflict in various interpersonal contexts.  

COMM 252  Listening Basics  (2)

This course is intended primarily for secondary and elementary education students seeking certification in the communication/language arts. Focuses upon the central role of listening in the communication process. Introduces students to the basic principles and various purposes of listening. Uses readings, discussion and exercises to heighten awareness of barriers to effective listening and to develop students' listening skills. Topics include cultural attitudes toward listening, costs of ineffective listening, intrapersonal listening, listening in various contexts, and ethical responsibilities of listening.  

COMM 253  Nonverbal Communication  (2)

Provides students with a general overview of the theoretical and practical application of primary areas of nonverbal communication research. The course examines theoretical and empirical studies in selected areas of nonverbal communication such as personal appearance, touch, space, body language, gestures, eye contact, use of time, facial expressions, olfaction, and body adornment/alteration.  

COMM 265  Group Communication  (4)

Examines the theory and practice of group communication. Includes such topics as group dynamics, decision making, power, norms and roles, conflict, groupthink and communication theory.  

COMM 271  Individual Learning Project  (1-4)

Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. The proposed project must be grounded in previous relevant coursework in the discipline. ILPs may not substitute for a regularly offered course and must be student-designed. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability toward major or minor requirements. Not available to first-year students.  

COMM 282  Special Topics in Message Design  (4)

A study of a special topic in message design not ordinarily treated in standard courses.  May be repeated as the topics change.  Prerequisites vary according to the topic.  See description in registration bulletin.

 COMM 282A  Public Relations  (4)

A theoretical approach to the principles of the field of public relations in non-profit, corporate and agency applications. This course will cover the building blocks of the profession, including research, planning, strategies, tactics, and evaluation, and how they are used to achieve organizational goals. Prerequisite: 103.  

COMM 286  Introduction to Film Studies  (4)

This course offers an introduction to film as a medium of communication and representation. Topics may include a survey of the development of film and the movie industry, techniques of acting, directing, cinematography, narrative style, and film theory. The vocabulary of cinema and representative films of the first one hundred years of filmmaking will be covered. Fall or spring. Cross listed with ENGL 286.  

COMM 303  Social Movements  (4)

This course examines how rhetoric enables groups of people to come together in order to influence public policies.  Students will study a variety of historical movements to understand how public arguments can represent social groups and motivate collective action. Prerequisite: 201 or permission of instructor.  

COMM 304  Political Communication  (4)

This class  examines how political symbols and discourse  mobilize society, stimulate social action, and create national identity. The course will explores how political language reinforces, interprets, challenges and manipulates popular beliefs, attitudes and values. Topics may include presidential rhetoric, campaign discourse, and legislative appeals. Prerequisite:  201 or permission of instructor.  

COMM 305  Women's Voices  (4)

This class is a survey of the ways women have used public discourse to demand greater freedoms and protections. This class will draw upon rhetorical theories to explore how and why women's voices have been silenced, the role that men have played as allies and antagonists, and the creative efforts women have undertaken to make their voices heard.  Prerequisite:  201 or GEND major or minor.  

COMM 307  Freedom of Speech  (4)

This course explores the historical development of laws and cultural assumptions that regulate public expression in the United States.  Students will study the communicative behaviors that have inspired free speech controversies and analyze the arguments made in favor of and in opposition to a free speech concept. Prerequisite: JN or SR standing.  

COMM 308  Rhetoric of Advertising  (4)

This course analyzes  the persuasive features of advertisements and examines how commercial messages generate social meaning.  Students will use rhetorical  theory to render deep  readings of product advertisements as  political, social and ideological  messages. Students will also discuss the ethical and social consequences of advertising in society. Prerequisite: 103 or 201, SO, JN or SR standing or permission of instructor.  

COMM 309  Environmental Rhetoric  (4)

This course examines how people use communication to articulate viewpoints about the natural environment in the public sphere.  Students study an array of environmental discourse, including speeches, advocacy campaigns, advertisements, image events, environmental reporting and news, film and media, to see how these messages convey meaning and shape audience attitudes and behavior about the environment. This course satisfies requirements for the ENVR major and minor. Prerequisite: SO, JN or SR standing.  

COMM 310  Black Civil Rights Rhetoric  (4)

The course explores how public expressions about race have impacted the history of United States democracy.  More specifically, students will study the political issues, moral complexities, and rhetorical strategies of speeches, essays, and public art by people of African descent who have argued about the nature and scope of "America."  

COMM 311  Rhetoric and Religion  (4)

This course will examine the complex relationship between religion and politics and the role that discourse and symbols play in that relationship. The course will explore both how the United States uses public discourse to navigate the proper role between church and state, as well as the ways in which public figures and movements draw upon religion for moral authority. The course will cover such topics as the founding discussions about the role of religion in public life and contemporary debates about the church/state relationship.  

COMM 312  Rhetorical Dimensions of Sports  (4)

This course will explore the ways in which sports are used as a part of public discourse and debate. The course will use rhetorical theories and concepts to examine how athletes, games, competitions and controversies are incorporated into larger social discussions about gender, race and national identity. Prerequisite: 201 or permission of the instructor.  

COMM 330  Capstone: Apology and Crisis Communication  (4)

An advanced course in rhetoric studying the genres of apology, image repair, and crisis communication. Students will analyze speeches and statements of apology and self-defense and assess the effectiveness, ethics, and meaning of such appeals in several case studies.  In addition to other requirements, students will generate a critical essay for public presentation. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, 201, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.  

COMM 333  Capstone: Rhetorical Criticism  (4)

In this course students will deepen the understanding of rhetorical behavior learned in lower division coursework in rhetoric and strengthen their ability to generate insights into particular rhetorical moments. The focus of this course is to enable students to produce well researched, articulate, and sophisticated judgments about public expression. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, 201, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.  

COMM 334  Capstone: Rhetorical Theory  (4)

The Sophist Gorgias noted that, "speech is a powerful lord" and likened language use to magic or spell-casting. Indeed, many thinkers have observed that public performance of language is a powerful activity: For some, this power is "truth creating," for others rhetoric is powerful because it can move people to action, and still others just think it's pretty. The study of this activity, rhetoric, has been a fundamental element of both philosophy and education in the Western tradition. In this course we will study how prominent thinkers from ancient Greece to modern times have conceptualized the nature of rhetorical behavior, and we will explore the utility of a rhetorical perspective for understanding our contemporary world. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, 201, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.  

COMM 335  Political Campaign Communication  (4)

This course analyzes the use of communication strategies and tactics by political candidates in campaigns for elected office and examines how communication shapes power and identity in American political campaigns and the implications this has for civic engagement. This course has an experiential learning component that requires students to work for a local political campaign of their choice. Students will demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and skills gained from the course to their campaign work. Prerequisite: SO, JN or SR standing.

COMM 336  Introduction to Strategic Communication Campaign Theory  (4)

This course provides a framework for students to understand the appropriate use of theory and components of strategic communication campaigns. Students will learn to be more discerning producers and consumers of persuasive messages.  This class may involve a service learning component. Prerequisite: 102 or 103 and JN or SR standing.  

COMM 338  New Media Analysis and Application  (4

)In this course, students will come to understand and apply effective communication theory and concepts in relation to a variety of social media and other new media applications. Students enrolled in this class will analyze other's use of social media to achieve effective, ethical communication goals and create their own strategies and messages.  

COMM 340  Media Theories  (4)

This course will examine the evolution of theories regarding the role of media in society. Prerequisite: 103 or permission of instructor.  

COMM 341  News and Democracy  (4)

The role of the news industry in a democracy is to inform and socialize the citizenry for participation within the democracy. What are the consequences for the nature of that information when the news industry is profit-driven? How do decisions about the "bottom line" influence decisions about an event's newsworthiness? This course will examine issues of ownership, the influence of advertising/public relations, and factors within the routines of production that help determine the content of news. Prerequisite: 103 or permission of instructor.  

COMM 342  New Media: Communication in an On-Line Era  (4)

The use of new media and social media in our society, locally and globally, has altered traditional boundaries that once defined communication, identity, and community. This course examines how new forms of mediated communication affect interpersonal and mass communication, social identities, our understanding of privacy, reality, and the concept of community. Participants will investigate theoretical questions raised by on-line communication and social media.  

COMM 343  Capstone: Critical Analysis of News  (4)

This course will provide advanced study in the critical analysis of news.  Students will examine the relationship of news to the construction of shared beliefs that shape human community.  Prerequisite: 102, 103, 105, 341, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.   

COMM 344  Capstone: Media Aesthetics  (4)

This course will provide advanced study in the creation and critique of mediated messages.  Students will learn to make cogent production choices to create effective media messages and will learn to defend those choices both orally and in writing. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, 240, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing, or permission of instructor. A-F grading only.  

COMM 346  Capstone: Strategic Communication Campaigns  (4)

This course provides an opportunity  for majors  to apply  what they have learned about strategic communication campaigns, persuasive theory, oral, and written communication, message analysis, and community, by creating strategic communication campaigns for a client. This course is  a service learning course and will count toward the experiential learning requirement.  Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, 336, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.  

COMM 347  Capstone: Media Effects  (4)

This course will provide advanced study in the effects of media on adults.  By taking a social scientific approach, students will examine the theoretical underpinnings of mass media effects research, with a focus on the effects of media on individuals and on society. This course will include independent research and public presentation. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.

COMM 350  Intercultural Communication  (4)

Examines the relationship between communication and culture. Communication theory is used to identify and explore barriers and opportunities in communicating with individuals from different cultures and co-cultures. Skills necessary for communication across cultures are identified and developed. Note: Some sections of this course may carry an experiential learning component. See registration booklet for details.  

COMM 351  Gender and Communication  (4)

Examines the impact of socialization on gender roles and the influence of gender roles on communication. Looks at the communication behaviors of women and men in same sex and mixed sex contexts. Introduces students to current theories of gender communication. Examines the function of communication in gender role development. This course satisfies requirements for the GWST major/minor.  

COMM 352  Health Communication  (4)

Provides students with a broad introduction to the study and application of health communication theories, principles, and practices.  Examines how narratives, media, interpersonal communication, group communication, intercultural communication, gender communication, organizational communication and promotional campaigns function within health contexts.  The relevance of communication to health is examined as a means for improving communication in the health care setting, improving personal health, and influencing public health.  Prerequisite:  105 or 205 or permission of instructor.  

COMM 353  Capstone: Intercultural Health Communication  (4)

This capstone course explores the communication about cultural health beliefs and practices as well as health disparities and how communication contributes to, but also may help alleviate, these. Some topics include traditional health beliefs among Latino, Asian, African, and Native American cultures; and relationship between health disparities and race/ethnicity, socioeconomic class, obesity, and differing abilities. Students will conduct original research as well as complete a series of analysis papers. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), at least one of: COMM 350, 351, or 352 and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.   

COMM 358  Family Communication  (4)

An advanced relational communication course focusing on communication patterns in families and familial relationships.  The course covers aspects of functional family communication patterns and explores the connections between family communication and societal discourse.  

COMM 360  Capstone: Language, Gender and Culture  (4)

This course will examine the relationship between language, gender, and culture in a variety of contexts and cultures.  The mutual influences of language and culture, and their role in the creation of gendered roles and identities within and across cultures will be explored. This course satisfies requirements for the GWST major/minor. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), at least one of: 205, 350, or 351, and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.   

COMM 367  Organizational Communication  (4)

Theories and concepts of organizational communication are discussed. Includes such topics as communication approaches to organizational theory, power, corporate culture, conflict, organizational metaphors, organizational processes, management styles and organizational change. Some sections of this course may carry an experiential learning requirement. See registration booklet for details. Prerequisite: 105.   

COMM 368  Capstone: Love, Sex & Commitment  (4) 

An advanced relational communication course focusing on the intersections of love, sexuality, commitment, and communication in close relationships.  Students review current research findings from a variety of perspectives (e.g., socio-psychological, cultural, evolutionary) and conduct original research. This course satisfies requirements for the GWST major/minor. Prerequisites: 102, 103, 105, 201, at least one course in each department learning goal area (message design, analysis of communication, and communication & community), and JN or SR standing. A-F grading only.