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Communication Course Descriptions

See the Academic Plan page for major requirements. Courses are listed in numerical order. Please note that some courses are available only to students following a particular concentration of the major.

COMM 1030: SPEAKING TO LEAD AND INFLUENCE (4 credits)

How is writing a speech different from writing a paper? Why does public speaking seem to come naturally to some, but not to others - or does it? Why are you so nervous? How do gendered norms impact your credibility as a female speaker? Undoubtedly, the ability to speak eloquently in a variety of settings is a vital component of contemporary leadership. This course is designed to introduce you to the skills needed to communicate effectively in a variety of public settings - from interview situations and boardroom meetings to public speeches and social contexts. We will focus on the practical application of rhetorical concepts, while maintaining an emphasis on self-empowerment and civic engagement. Readings and assignments are designed to foster the following skills: choosing effective speech topics, writing, outlining, and editing speech text, delivery and eloquence, audience analysis, ethics, language and structure, evaluation and criticism of speech texts.

COMM 2020: COMMUNICATION DYNAMICS IN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS (4 credits)

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to argue with a romantic partner or family member? Have you ever wondered why people who seem to be happy in their relationships have affairs? Do you wish people were better listeners? This course focuses on the interesting dynamics that occur in interpersonal relationships and helps explain some of the strange phenomena we experience when we interact with others. Highlighting communication, this course explores the development of personal identity, intimate relationships, family relationships, friendships, professional relationships and even non-traditional relationships to examine how communication influences the effectiveness and satisfaction of these experiences.

COMM 2050: MEDIA, CULTURE AND SOCIETY (4 credits)

Why does the Daily Show matter? How does the medium of the cell phone increase the quantity of communication while decreasing the quality? Why do we design our living rooms around the television? What is the responsibility of a media critic? How does cultural context impact meaning? How are issues of gender, race, sexuality and class negotiated in contemporary media? In what ways do media impact identity? Why study the media, anyway? These are some of the key questions guiding our exploration of media, culture and society. This class introduces some key concepts and theories for the study of media, provides a historical backdrop for the emergence of cultural critique, and surveys some of the current trends in media and cultural studies, promoting a critical consumption of the cultural texts that infiltrate our increasingly mediated lives.

COMM 2090: COMMUNICATION AND CONFLICT IN GROUPS AND TEAMS (4 credits)

Why are people so tense at the beginning of a party? Why are family holiday gatherings so uncomfortable? Why does a team always have one "social loafer?" These questions are answered in this class. Communication in Groups and Teams looks at group dynamics from a variety of contexts — work teams, families, even social groups — to explore why some teams work while others dysfunction. Students apply theory through participation in a variety of small group and team experiences. The class focuses on topics such as role emergence, leadership, task accomplishment, decision-making, and group culture. Conflict resolution is addressed throughout the course.

COMM 3030: RHETORIC, CIVIC PARTICIPATION, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE (4 credits)

What does it mean to be a citizen? What are your duties and responsibilities as citizens? How should you seek to actively engage the world around you? How can citizens participate in society in order to change society? This class answers these questions by examining the role of public discourse in constituting public decisions and public life. You will examine how rhetorical practices contribute to the construction, maintenance and destruction of community. By the end of class you will have learned to become a more active and effective participant in our democratic culture through rhetorical action, and thereby to contribute to the improvement of civic discourse in our society. To achieve this overarching goal, class assignments will require you to research controversial public issues, develop your opinions in relation to those issues, and create strategic plans through which you can initiate social change. Prerequisites: COMM 1030.

COMM 3070: GENDER AND RHETORIC (4 credits)

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, how on earth are they supposed to communicate with one another? What are the implications of this "different planets" metaphor? Why do we talk about Hilary Clinton’s fashion, but not Bill’s? Where do we get our ideas about what it means to be female or male, feminine or masculine? How do various rhetoric influence us to adopt and perform particular gender identities? In what ways are conceptions of gender related to ideas about sexuality? What rhetorical strategies have individuals and social movements used to challenge gender/sexual norms? This course examines how sex and gender and our identities as women, men, and sexual beings are influenced by and contested in the rhetorical culture around us. We will focus on communicating identity in interpersonal relationships, the impact of mass media on gender performances, key legislative debates and social movement strategies. Also offered as WOST.

COMM 3090: COMMUNICATION IN ORGANIZATIONS (4 credits)

Is your boss difficult to get along with? Do you wish your co-worker would leave you alone? Do you wonder why some organizations flourish while others fail? Communication in Organizations examines organization culture and socialization, leadership communication, networks, ethics and communication structures in organizations. While other courses examine the rhetoric of leaders, this course looks at leaders as vision setters. You will have an opportunity to apply theory in exercises, communication analyses and case studies. Individual self-assessment and assessments of communication in organizations help you apply course theories. All types of organizations are examined in this course: for profit, nonprofit, non-government organizations, political organizations, and social organizations. . Prerequisites: Recommended: COMM 2020 and/or COMM 2090.

COMM 3100: COMMUNICATING ACROSS CULTURES, IDENTITIES AND DIFFERENCES (4 credits)

In the 21st century, individuals continue to be marginalized because of their differences. The existence of racism, sexism, homophobia and religious discrimination indicate that the categories separating individuals from one another fuel acts of hatred, oppression and degradation, but why? What makes such discrimination possible? How do categories of people come to be seen as "different"? How does being "different" affect people’s lived experience? What meaning does difference have at the level of the individual, social institution or culture? What difference does difference make? This class will answer these questions by studying how communication plays a significant role in the construction of cultures, identities and differences. Through such an inquiry you will learn how social, political, economic, racial, sexual, cultural and geographic differences impact the process of communication and consequently, cause conflict between groups and individuals that belong to different social categories. Through studying how cultures, identities and differences impact communication, we will develop strategies for effectively and ethically participating in an increasingly diverse cultural landscape. Also offered as WOST and CRST.

COMM 3110: COMMUNICATION TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT (4 credits)

This class will be of interest to anyone who wants to better understand how to assist individuals in organizations in communicating with others more effectively. In the first part of the class, you will learn how to design communication workshops for a variety of audiences. The second part of the course is designed to teach you how to assess communication problems in organizations. Finally, you learn how to intervene in situations to resolve communication-related problems. Prerequisites: COMM 3090 or consent of instructor.

COMM 3600: LEADERSHIP AND THE ART OF PERSUASION (4 credits)

This course studies the practice of leadership communication from within the framework of persuasive, effective, ethical and enduring leadership. By studying the communication practices of female leaders in the cultural, political, business and intellectual sectors of society and by focusing on the unique challenges faced by these leaders as women in particular, this course provides practical examples of different forms of effective leadership particularly well-suited to the St. Kate’s student. To provide you with a foundation through which you can begin to act as a leader in your daily life, these practical examples are discussed in conjunction with theories of leadership, persuasion and argumentation. Class assignments—a personal leadership plan, a persuasive cover letter, a persuasive speech—provide you with practical opportunities for incorporating theory into practice. Also offered as CRST and WOST.

COMM 4602 or 4604: INTERNSHIP ( 2 OR 4 credits)

This structured out-of-class learning experience takes place on or off campus and includes a substantial work component. An internship involves you in a particular profession in an exploratory way to test career interests and potential. To initiate an internship experience, you must meet with the internship coordinator in the Career Development Office. Prerequisites: Faculty sponsorship and approval by department chair.

COMM 4850: SENIOR SEMINAR (2 credits)

Senior seminar invites you to explore your communication studies major, examining how your work has changed you personally and prepared you for professional life. Discussion and sharing among the participants of the seminar are stressed. A central goal of the course is for you to document how you meet departmental outcome goals. You combine elements from previous portfolios (COMM 1030, COMM 3600, CORE 1000 and CORE 3990) with new work (reflective essay, career development assessments, career plans, cover letters, resumes, etc.) in a culminating document that demonstrates competency in oral and written communication and information and technology proficiency. This senior seminar is required for communication studies majors.

COMM 4952 or 4954: INDEPENDENT STUDY ( 2 OR 4 credits)

Project may build upon experience gained in any course in the department. Prerequisites: Instructor and department chair permission.

COMM: 4994: TOPICS (4 credits)

Seminars invite you to explore a particular issue in depth. You undertake a major research project under the supervision of the instructor. Discussion and sharing among the participants of the seminar is stressed. When offered, the specialized content area is highlighted in a subtitle, and the relevant prerequisites are listed in the course schedule. The subject matter of the course is announced in the annual schedule of classes. Content varies from year to year but does not duplicate existing courses.