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Course Descriptions

Communication and Digital Media Studies Program Courses

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COMM 1050U Technical Communications

This course will assist students in developing professional writing and presentation skills required for university assignments and for their professional work in the future. It will start with basic writing and speaking skills and will emphasize their application in the preparation of reports and other technical writing. Topics for the course include using correct grammar and punctuation, organizing ideas, formulating persuasive arguments, and preparing narrative and written technical reports. Part of the process will involve students in the critical analysis of the writing and speaking of others as a means of developing one’s own skills.

COMM 1100U Introduction to Communication

This course introduces the fundamental concepts of communication theory and practice and will provide an overview of the field as defined by the various communication courses included in this BA degree. It will examine how knowledge of theoretical concepts, communication processes, and communication skills can be applied to successful and efficient communication practice.

COMM 1311U Writing and Publishing in the Digital Age

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of professional writing, editing, distributing and exhibiting content through the Web using digital publishing software.

COMM 1320U Public Speaking

This course covers the fundamentals of public speaking and teaches students how to present their ideas effectively and professionally. The lecture component of the course focuses on the principles of public speaking while the tutorials allow students to practice public speaking.

COMM 1420U Living Digitally

This course introduces the study of digital media and society. It explores how the shift from analog to digital is changing the way we live, learn, work, shop, play, and vote and surveys debates about the present and future impacts of digital media technologies in society.

COMM 2110U Foundations of Communication Theory

This course introduces the fundamentals of human communication: its physical, linguistic, psychological, and sociological bases. It examines some of the major perspectives in communication theory, including the main American and European schools of thought, from the technological (McLuhan prophesies) to the symbolic and socio-political dimensions (feminist and cultural studies). Case studies will illuminate how theory underpins real-life communication practice.

COMM 2210U Communication and Culture

This course examines the interrelationships between communication and culture. It provides a brief introduction to some of the theories and methods we use to analyze, comprehend and read modern culture. These theories are applied to the analysis of various communication forms and genres, including media texts, photography, television, film, and music. The course will examine representative examples of analysis and criticism of mass media, culture and society. It will touch upon the commercialization of cultural production, as well as issues of cultural hegemony and the globalization of culture. Students will conduct independent research and write critiques of several cultural products.

COMM 2220U The Media in Canada

This course examines the history, economics, and policies of the media in Canada. What is “Canadian” about the media? How do media goods represent Canada? What policies protect and promote the “Canadian” media industry, how and why? These questions are addressed through a survey of Canadian publishing, film, radio, television, games and digital media.  Prerequisite: COMM 1100U.

COMM 2230U Screen Studies (formerly Film and Video)

This course will utilize core critical concepts from film theory (psychoanalysis and feminism to contemporary Continental philosophy) and cultural criticism to analyze films, videos, mobile communication devices, and gaming cultures, with reference to key thinkers, movements, and contexts.

COMM 2240U Television

In this course, students learn to think critically about television’s history, business, politics, genres, viewers and effects in society.

COMM 2270U Entertainment Goes Global

This course examines the globalization of entertainment media. Students learn about the entertainment industry, the policies governments use to support it, the production of entertainment by workers around the world, globally popular blockbuster films and TV formats and the ways entertainment may influence viewers and cultures while moving across borders.

COMM 2410U History of Communication Technology

This course focuses on the history of communication technologies. Students learn about the development and impact of tablets, the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, the phonograph, the radio, the TV, satellites, cybernetics, personal computers, A.I. and smartphones.

COMM 2411U Information and Society

This course introduces students to the link between information and communications technologies (ICTs) and economic and political power in society. Do ICTs empower the many or only the few? How are ICTs being used to uphold and change power relations? Students will address these and related questions through case studies of ICTs and power.

COMM 2530U Advertising and Society

This course critically examines the place of advertising in contemporary consumer society. Topics to be covered include the construction of desire, the significance of advertising to the production and circulation of commodities, and the role of advertising and consumption in the construction of social identity. Theoretical principles will be applied to practice in a series of interactive and collaborative exercises.

COMM 3110U Communication Ethics

This course examines ethical issues as they arise in interpersonal communication, mass communication media (TV, newspapers, Internet, etc.), and in the formation of public policy and law. The dominant moral theories and approaches to moral decision making will be analyzed and put to use to help students understand and evaluate concrete examples and case studies. The course will include topics such as objectivity, freedom of expression, representations of sex, violence and other human behaviour, privacy, confidentiality and obligations to the public.

COMM 3250U Pop Culture

This course surveys and applies competing theories of popular culture in society through case studies of ads, films, TV shows, video games, comic books, music, celebrities and more. The course helps students to understand, contextualize and critically analyze pop.

COMM 3310U Communication, Communities and Social Change (formerly Writing for Communities)

This course explores the theory, method and practice of “communication for social change.” It presents a global survey of the ways that communications media (traditional, electronic and digital) is used to bring about equitable and sustainable social changes within marginalized communities. The course will cover topics such as: the history of communication for social change in development studies; tensions between “top down” models of development communication as modernization and “bottom up” models of participatory communication; communications media as support for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); political, economic and institutional barriers to social change.

COMM 3410U New Media Theory and Practice (formerly Perspectives on Multimedia Authoring)

This course will provide a theoretical and analytical overview of the principles of new media design and authoring on a range of software platforms. Students will learn about the design process of new media objects and about the role played by code, software, interfaces and networks in constructing our cultural experience of being online. Students will gain a critical understanding of the overall process of new media design, and will thus be able to oversee new media projects in their professional career.

COMM 3510U Work in the Information Age

This course examines the conditions and meaning of work in the global information age. Through a survey of relevant theories and case studies, the course analyzes how companies, managerial discourses and processes and ICTs are transforming workplaces, work practices and workers too. Topics explored include: information/knowledge/creative economy discourse, policy and practice; the shift from industrial to post-industrial accumulation; networked production models; the creation, valuation and exchange of informational goods; creative and immaterial labour;precarious, freelance and “flexible” employment in media industries; telework and virtual work; consumption work/crowdsourcing; offshoring, deskilling and automation; and, e-waste.

COMM 3610U Persuasion (formerly Persuasion, Argumentation and Negotiation)

The concept of rhetoric-as-persuasion is associated with the power of language to liberate, emancipate, control, and deceive the public. In this advanced course, students explore topics in the areas of the production of public knowledge, public argument, public action, public response, and public critique. To better understand the relationship between rhetoric, policy and ethics, learners will examine the consequences of particular rhetorical strategies in complex situations of everyday life, the workplace, and as part of the global public sphere.

COMM 3710U Intercultural Communication

This course examines communication in an intercultural context, where it is affected by divergent value systems, differing levels of technological adaptation, and unequal power configurations. The course will focus on relationships between people of diverse racial, ethnic, national, linguistic and religious backgrounds. Topics will include language and perception; emotions across cultures; culture and advertising; body language; and cultural stereotyping.

COMM 3720U Communicating Diversity

This course addresses practical and theoretical issues of race, ethnicity, and gender that have become focal points for current debates in public cultural expression. Themes to be discussed are the implications of cultural, racial, and sexual differences; the (mis)representation of multicultural, multiracial, and sexual minorities in the media; and the implications of employment equity, human rights, and other legislation. Theoretical readings which frame issues of cultural, racial, and gender representation will be followed by projects that develop successful strategies for communicating diversity.

COMM 3740U Game Studies

Video games are an increasingly prominent part of everyday experience. Games and gaming are becoming a core component of how we communicate, learn, relax, socialize, and engage with the world around us. In this course, students will explore the cultural impact, meanings, and uses of video games and become immersed in the emerging field of game studies. Core issues in game studies, such as play and pleasure, storytelling and genre, and representation and production will be introduced as part of a broader emphasis on games’ cultural and critical contexts. By the end of the course, students will have a critical understanding of how video games shape and are shaped by the cultures in which they exist.

COMM 4120U Contemporary Issues in Communication

This course’s topics will change regularly to follow current development and problems related to communication. By focusing on timely, relevant and important issues in Communication studies, the students will gain an understanding of new areas of research.

COMM 4261U Tweet, Friend and Follow Me: Understanding Social Media

This course is an advanced examination of the theory, practice and effects of social media technologies including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It examines how different individuals, groups and organizations interact with different publics via social media to achieve their goals and highlights ethical issues surrounding the economics, politics and cultures of social media.

COMM 4130U Capstone Project

The Capstone research project is geared for students who are not planning to immediately go on to graduate school and who are not enrolled in Honours Thesis II. The finished product can be an individually authored research paper or a practical team project that addresses community needs (such as a communication report, a strategic management plan, or a communication artifact). The Capstone experience will integrate students’ knowledge and skills in the field of applied communications. The projects will allow for a final recapitulation and application of the theories and practices that have been introduced in the various courses.

COMM 4140U Visual Rhetoric

This course introduces students to the theoretical foundations of the field of visual rhetoric. By learning a vocabulary of visual meaning-making based on gestalt theory, visual semiotics, discourse analysis, and visual culture, students explore how visual texts can be rhetorical or persuasive across a multitude of visual genres. Analysis will range across print-based texts, moving images, and digital content.

COMM 4210U Special Topics

In this course students will undertake in-depth explorations of selected topics in communication, culture, and information technology. Topics will vary from year to year based on faculty interests and availability of visiting scholars.

COMM 4310U Non-Violent Communication

This course incorporates Gandhi’s method of “ahimsa,” or nonviolence, to the communicative context. In this course, students will consider the meaning of violence, and how communication can be both violent or compassionate (and everything in between). Students will learn nonviolent communicative strategies that can be applied to their own personal and professional experiences, as well as how nonviolent communication can be incorporated into national and international challenges. Media contexts such as music, film, blogging, microblogging and social media are examined in the context of respect, power, and safety. The course intends to provide students with meaningful scholarly analysis of nonviolent communication case studies and theories such that students become more self-empowered, build a better understanding of others, are able to bridge differences, and can build harmonious relationships on a variety of levels.

COMM 4420U Digital Media, Politics and Democracy

Digital media technologies weigh heavily on the quality of our lives as citizens and on the quality of our political environment. Do social media promote political expression? Do mobile devices contribute to civic engagement? Are virtual gaming environments arenas for political discourse? Can big data contribute to digital activism? Students who take this course will address these and similar questions about the relationship between digital media technologies and the future of our political system.

COMM 4510U Public Relations

This course examines the theory, strategies and ethics of public relations in society with reference to historical and current examples. This course explores: the historical development of the PR industry; critical debates concerning PR and democracy; the relationship between PR firms and the news media; organizational PR (crisis communications and reputation/brand management); the PR strategies employed by states, businesses and front groups (i.e. think-tanks and lobbies); old and new PR media (print, radio, TV, the Internet).

COMM 4530U Research with/in Communities: Alternative Methods for Social Sciences

This course will provide an understanding of participatory modes of research for social change by drawing upon traditions such as action research, co-research, participatory theatre, militant ethnography, and institutional analysis. This course is designed for students interested in social activism.

COMM 4610U Communication and Conflict Resolution

This course allows for students to explore communication and conflict resolution at a variety of levels including intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational and global conflict. Students are exposed to issues such as personal conflict relating to beliefs, attitudes, values, and worldviews; how communication can help (or hinder) interpersonal relationships; communication and conflict in groups such as tribes, gangs, or social collectives; and how communication strategies are meaningful in conflict amongst organizational systems such as business/economic institutions including schools, healthcare and governments. The course also considers communication and conflict on a broader level by examining political relationships between nations, and peoples’ relationships with the natural world. Students are exposed to practical strategies for using communication to resolve conflict and build understanding at both the personal and global levels.

COMM 4710U International Communication

This course focuses on international communications and its intersections with world politics in an age of increasing global interdependence. While tracing the evolution of major theories and concepts in the field, students will apply diverse theoretical insights to the analysis of past and current problems in world politics, the flow and contra-flow of global media, and the impact of globalization. During the semester, we address several core questions in the field such as: What roles have the successive information and media revolutions played in resolving or exacerbating international conflicts? How does the global communications system operate and why? How do globalization processes affect global media, world politics, and world cultures? Will the notion of national borders and identities remain relevant in the foreseeable future or will it become a distant historical memory? The role of new media in security, terrorism, foreign policy, and conflict resolution will be probed, with special consideration given to current issues and ongoing global events.

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