BISMCS 333: Media & Communication Studies

Meeting time: Tue/Thu 3:30-5:30

Meeting room: UW1 202

Amoshaun Toft


Office: UW 1-143

Phone: (425) 352-3210

Office Hours: Tue/Thu, 11am-12noon

PDF version of the syllabus

Course Description

This class is an introduction to the theory and practice of media and communication studies. Students will critically examine models of communication and meaning making, the development and importance of media technologies and organizations, and the ethical consideration of agency and choice in representational processes. This survey in media and communication studies will accompany a collaborative project that analyzes the representational patterns and organizational dynamics surrounding a prominent social issue. We will work to integrate a nuanced understanding of social theory with an applied case study in communication and social change, focusing on the tension between the stability of established systems of representation and the active contestation of meaning in the public sphere. These analytical skills provide the theoretical foundation for students who wish to become conscientious media professionals and/or informed media consumers. Through lectures, discussions and hands on projects students will examine the politics of representation and the practices of production.

Course Learning Goals

  • Employ communication theory to explain the social world
  • Assess the links between the historical growth of media organizations and contemporary media making practices
  • Critically examine the role of agency and choice in how we collaboratively construct the social world
  • Unpack the role of media communication technologies in contemporary societies
  • Collaborate effectively on a shared project

IAS Learning Goals

  • Interdisciplinary Research: To think critically and creatively about how to generate and contextualize complex research questions, conduct research by identifying and utilizing appropriate sources and methods, and present research in a form that best suits the intended audience(s).
  • Critical Thinking: To develop the creative and self-reflexive habits of mind associated with inquiry- and research-based critical thinking by focusing on diverse (written, performative, visual, and material) practices of interpretation, analysis, argumentation, application, synthesis, and evaluation.  To move beyond relativism and make an informed commitment to a position, interpretation, or point of view, while also engaging in continued dialogue and acknowledging the presence of valuable competing or alternative positions.
  • Collaboration and Shared Leadership: To work with others to identify dimensions of a project; to generate and refine ideas related to a project; to appreciate and draw on group members’ multiple histories, strengths, and potential contributions; to follow through on the consequences of collective decisions; and to work on specific tasks without losing a sense of the whole.
  • Writing and Presentation: To choose a form of reasoning, level of analysis, and use of evidence appropriate to your purpose and audience.

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