Jan 8, 2019–In this capstone seminar, you will complete an intensive research and writing project focused on a topic related to the field of communication studies. Possible research topics can span business, politics, advocacy, entertainment, public health, the environment, and other societal sectors (see list of examples at end of course page). Building on previous coursework, you will gain a deeper scholarly and professional understanding of the field of communication, forge professional and academic contacts, and demonstrate a mastery of relevant theoretical concepts, professional principles, research methods, and writing approaches.

With guidance from me, you will conduct a review of the relevant scholarly and professional literature, carry out research on the topic using selected methodological approaches, and write a substantial research paper that articulates and supports a thesis. It is a unique chance for you to become an expert in an aspect of communication and society, deepening your understanding of an area that you are passionate about and/or that aligns with their career goals.


The majority of the work for this class will be conducted independently by each student and in regular consultation with me. The course is also designed as a research seminar that enables you to develop your ideas through the lens of outstanding relevant works of scholarship and journalism, and in active engagement with your classmates.

CLASS FORMAT

The course is structured as a mix of collaborative class sessions and individual meetings with the instructor.

Collaborative Classes


Class sessions are organized as a research workshop. In these classes, the following activities will take place:

  • The instructor will cover the fundamentals of research design and project conceptualization and execution, discussing key challenges, strategies, and milestones and providing individual and general feedback to students.
  • We will discuss and apply assigned books and readings that provide a broader context and suggest ideas for paper topics; and that promote thinking about relevant research questions and approaches.
  • Students present portions of their work to the entire class for feedback. The classes are also a time and place for students to receive detailed peer critiques of work from classmates who are pursuing similar avenues of research.

Individual Meetings

  • The instructor will also meet individually with students on announced class times. These meetings will focus on and be tailored to a specific research or writing stage relative to the student’s capstone.

REQUIRED TEXTS

  • McIntyre, L. (2018). Post-Truth. MIT Press.
  • Caulfield, T. (2015). Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything?: when celebrity culture and science clash. Penguin Canada
  • Egginton, W. (2018). The Splintering of the American Mind: Identify Politics, Inequality, and Community on Today’s College Campuses. New York: Bloomsbury. [READ ALL]
  • Vaidhyanathan, S. (2018). Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. [READ ALL]

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS

  • Class Participation, Research Presentations & Peer Feedback (10%)
  • First take home exam (15%) and Second take home exam (15%)
  • Annotated Bibliography (20%)
  • Final Capstone (40%)*

*For the capstone, students will have the opportunity to revise initial drafts based on instructor feedback and for a higher grade.

DUE DATES

  • TUES Jan 22 — 1-2 page overview of final paper topic due.
  • Fri Feb 22  — Annotated Bibliography Due
  • Mon March 11 — First Exam emailed to class and due by 11pm Fri March 15
  • Fri March 22 — First draft of final paper due
  • Mon April 1 — Second exam emailed to class and due by 11pm Fri April 5
  • Wed April 10 —  Final strategy paper due

SCHEDULE

JAN 8 & 11 — Getting Started on Research

JAN 15 & 18 — Communication in a Post Truth Era, Part 1

  • McIntyre, L. (2018). Post-Truth. MIT Press, pgs xi-88

JAN 22 &  25 — Communication in a Post Truth Era, Part 1

  • McIntyre, L. (2018). Post-Truth. MIT Press, pgs 89-172

JAN 29 & FEB 1 — Catch Up & Review

FEB 5 & 8 — Discuss Progress on Research Papers

FEB 12, 15 & 19 — Communication in a Celebrity Culture

  • Caulfield, T. (2015). Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything?: when celebrity culture and science clash. Penguin Canada (READ ALL).

FEB 26 & MARCH 1 — Discuss Progress on Research Papers

MARCH 5 & 8 —  Spring Break

MARCH 19 & 22 — Campus Politics, Communication, and Inequality

  • Egginton, W. (2018). The Splintering of the American Mind: Identify Politics, Inequality, and Community on Today’s College Campuses. New York: Bloomsbury. [READ ALL]

MARCH 26 & 29 — Communication in a Facebook World

  • Vaidhyanathan, S. (2018). Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. [READ ALL]

APRIL 2, 5 & 9 — Discuss Progress on Final Papers

Topics Studied by Previous Students Taking a Similar Course

• New media portrayals of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
• Reality TV portrayals of Romantic Relationships
• Sports Marketing Strategies of Bruins and Red Sox
• Masculinity, Culture, and Stress Coping Mechanisms
• Advertising, Gender Portrayals, and Body Image
• Media Violence and Its Effects
• Online Video and Social Engagement.
• Defining Radical: Analysis of Activist Groups and Tactics.
• Framing Sexual Violence in the Media.
• Comparative Look at American & French Coverage of Protest.
• Communicating about Gender Bias and Female Stereotypes.
• The Virginia Tech Massacre: Framing and Crisis Communication.
• Communicating about Parental Involvement in Public Schools.
• California Proposition Campaigns: A Framing Analysis.
• Opinion Leaders and Social Impact of Documentaries.
• Framing and Priming in Canadian Parliamentary Debates.
• Opinion Leaders and Fashion Marketing.
• Analysis of News Aggregator and Social Media Habits.
• New Technology and the Agenda-Building Process.
• Communicating about New Energy Technologies.
• Framing Education Policy: The Case of Delaware.
• Analysis of George Lakoff in the Context of the 2008 Election.
• Higher Education Branding and University Athletics.
• Examining Dominant Political Narratives in U.S History.
• Analysis of the “Vote or Die” Campaign.
• Analysis of Barack Obama Campaign Speeches.
• Corporate Social Responsibility and the Red Campaign.
• Place-based Branding: The Case of Ithaca, NY.
• Emotional Branding: Three Case Studies.
• Communication Campaigns about Animal Welfare.
• Political Communication and Young Voter Engagement.
• Visual Persuasion in Campaign Advertising.
• Microtargeting in Political Campaigns.
• Analysis of Destination Branding Campaigns.
• The Truth Campaign and Social Marketing Research.
• Corporate Social Responsibility: Priming and Framing.
• Entertainment Communication and the Environment.
• Apple Inc and Research on Branding Campaigns.
• Crisis Management and the Future of Consumerism.
• Higher Education and Student Marketing.
• The Truth about Entertainment Communication.
• Taking Control of Science Communication.
• Coverage of Latin America in the U.S. press.
• Mass Media, Society, and Celebrity Journalism.
• Communication Strategies and Mental Health Stigma.
• Worse Case Scenarios: When Scandals Come to Light.
• Media and Social Norms on Campuses.
• Framing Art: Artists, Non-Profits, and Social Change.
• Naming Rights Campaigns in Sports marketing.
• Why do People Play the Lottery?
• Branded Entertainment: The Case of Bud TV.
• Gay Advertising Messages and Straight consumers.
• Nation Branding and the News Media.
• Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns.
• Evaluating Opinion Leader and Market Maven Theories.

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