Descriptions of Courses Taught
I have recently taught a broad range of courses that are commonly taught within
the field of communication (over 20 different courses since 2001). I describe those courses below. I have made each
course, as might be expected, my own through my selection of specific subject
matter and the way in which I order and emphasize the various elements of the
course, but each adheres to the principles laid out in the original course design
(or general syllabus). Here I describe, in brief, over a dozen courses which
I have taught since 2001. I have also designed and thought several new
courses which are described on another page of this site.
- The capstone course of the Television and Radio program at Brooklyn College,
where I developed the course and have taught it most often. A required upper
division course required of communication majors at Adelphi University, where
I have also taught it. A fusion of communication theory and qualitative communication
research methodologies that is intended to reintegrate the intense production
experience of their major with theory and research approaches. Theoretical
approaches and qualitative methodologies associated with the course, as I
teach it, include semiotics, narrative theory, genre theory, ideological theories,
cultural theories, audience response methods, media effects, and, more generally,
the message that is implicit to the use of a particular medium for a particular
purpose. This is a dense, theory rich, writing course in which students apply
the lessons of their production experience to the analysis of media content.
Students select a single body of content from radio, television, or movies,
apply most of the methods of the course to that body of content in brief,
and write two short (three page) and one longer (ten page) papers that utilize
a subset of these these methods (their choice) in analyzing that body of content.
The papers Medium as Communication Process Primitive and Medium as an Ecology of Genre grow out of teaching
- The introductory course in Interpersonal Communication. An overview of most
of the most important research areas in that students will wrestle with in
later courses, but packaged in a way that makes it immediately applicable
in their relationships and their understandings of themselves. In some ways,
a theoretically dense course, but generally presented through the lens of
the students own experience of friendships, relationships, family, work, and
the way we think about ourselves and other people. A great course for connecting
ones research to the classic material we expect every communication student
to master. The paper Relationship
Equals Sum Media, which connects my research on new media with the
literature of relationship development, grows out teaching this course.
- The introductory course in Small Group Communication. This course integrates
practical small group experiences with the current theories of how small groups
form, evolve over time, and operate in accomplishing different purposes. As
taught in Oswego, Small Group is an alternative to Interpersonal. Hence there
is a need to cover many of the fundamental approaches to communication research
that would normally be covered in a course in Interpersonal while retaining
a focus on the group context. I am currently teaching this course for the
first time since graduate school.
- An upper division course that presumes successful completion of courses
in Interpersonal Communication or Small Group Communication. My approach to
this course fuses the classic approaches to organizational communication theory
with newer approaches based in systems theory, cultural theory, structuration,
and network analysis. I add, consistent with my research program and my background
in doing communication process reengineering at IBM, an organizational media
ecology perspective in which students think about the media choices that organizations
make in reaching different constituencies. Practical application of these
theoretical approaches is a major focus of the course, with students asked
to identify an organization (their choices have ranged from large multi-national
corporations to local non-profits) and examine the ways in which they interact
with their various stakeholders (employees, customers, business partners,
investors, etc). The results of their research in this area has sometimes
been startling. There are at least some organizations that have almost entirely
rebuilt their media ecologies around relatively high speed and highly distributed
communication media over the last fifteen years such that many working groups
are composed of people who almost never interact on a face to face basis.
My paper Emergent
Complexity and the Role Attributes of Media draws heavily on my experience
in teaching this course.
- A breadth of the field introduction to communcation theory. Covers a spectrum of communication theory literature ranging from Interpersonal Communication and Small Group Theory to Medium Theory and Media Effects; from Language and Meaning to Messages and Rhetoric; from Organizational Communication to Ingtercultural Communication; from perception and the constitution of self to constructivism and structuration.
- A return to the subject matter of my masters
thesis, this upper division course is an in depth exploration of theories
of persuasion and their application in the real world. My approach to the
course is to connect theories of persuasions with persuasive campaigns in
which multiple messages are structured across time across time and through
multiple media to persuade diverse audiences. Student papers focus on theoretical
perspectives and the ways in which they can be used in designing persuasive
campaigns. Group projects focus on building campaigns based on current theory.
Papers and group projects are interrelated such that the papers support the
- An upper division undergraduate introduction to Intercultural Communication.
As taught at SUNY Oswego, explored the intersection of communication and cultures, starting
with the role of communication in structurating culture and extending to the
implications of cultural differences to interpersonal, group, and communication
encounters. Particular attention was be paid to Internet media as a site
of cross-cultural interaction. As taught as a part of a study abroad program in China sponsored by Brooklyn College, explored the experience of communicating interculturally while the students were in an intercultural setting.
- Introduction to Mass Media
- A relatively standard Introduction to Mass Media course. Students are introduced to the range of mass media starting with
books, magazines, and newspapers and ending with television and Internet media. Intended to provide a broad practical and
theoretical introduction to the history, business, processes, and effects of mass media and mass audiences.
- Industries, Institutions and Audiences
- A fairly deep examination of the business of radio, television, and the Internet mass media. Intended to provide students with
a strong sense of the history, workings, and processes of these media along with a clear sense of the career paths that are
available to media professionals. These media are examined not only in the U.S., but Internationally such that students get a clear sense of the different economic models, varying content models, and contrasting regulatory frameworks associated with mass media around the world.
- As taught as a masters level course at Brooklyn College, reviews a variety
of forces that act to regulate the content and operation of media. Principle
among these forces is the law, and the largest portion of the course is spent
exploring the legal issues and precedents associated with the mass media.
Normative, market, and architectural forces are also explored as we examine
the structure and process of media regulation in the United States, and to
a lesser extent, around the world.
- An upper level course in Interpersonal Communication taught in the manner
of a graduate seminar, with readings drawn from specialized topic areas in
Interpersonal Communication. In past incarnations of the course I have had
students looking at the literature of Relational Communication, Nonverbal
Communication, and Mediated Interpersonal Communication. The first two literatures
are research areas that undergraduate students seem to enjoy. The third is
a personal research interest and has subsequently developed into a standalone
course. In this course I want students to do systematic observation of
other peoples communication, and I ask them to do group projects involving
conversation analysis and individual research on one or more theories within
a specialized topic area. The structure of a class evolves into student-directed
discussions in which individual students come into class that day with a set
of questions based on the readings. Every student is assigned the task of
coming up with questions several times over the course of a semester. Discussion
and lecture (to the extent there is any lecture, and many days there is not)
follows directly from those questions.
and Social Cognition
- A mid-level course in the Interpersonal Communication designed to bridge
the span of communication theory that connects perception, cognition, and
intrapersonal communication to the role of communication in building and maintaining
our relationships and communities. I taught the last edition of this course
at Oswego and then designed and taught the first edition of its replacement,
which focused more on the role of Interpersonal Communication in the structuration
of relationships, groups, organizations, and communities: Communication
Relationships and Communities.
- A upper division undergraduate examination of the obligations that communicators
owe others when the create, consume, and enable messages. I ask my students
to apply the classic ethical philosophies of Kant, Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas,
Machiavelli, and others to the specific ethical problems faced by all of the
people who make media possible, including both the usual suspects (creators
and consumers of messages) and the supporting cast: producers, directors,
retailers, cameramen, accountants, managers, and makeup artists, among many
others. The result has been a wonderful set of student papers and group projects
that explore practical ethical decision making in a wide variety of real world
media. It has also proved to be a rich source of research output, including
such papers as Roles
in Media, Measuring
Complex Ethical Decision Making, and Fractally
Complex Decision Spaces and the Efficacy of Ethics Instruction. Perhaps
the "luckiest" course (in the sense of opportunity meeting preparation
with unexpected results) I've ever taught.
- The hybrid communication course. Public speaking (Informational and Persuasive
Speaking) combined with an introduction to communication theory, interpersonal
communication, listening, small group interaction, and new media. As can be
seen from the syllabus, a straightforward course, but one which I needed to
structure with an interleaving of public speaking and introduction of communication
content that is not directly supported by standard texts.
of Speech Communication/Public
- The basic public speaking course communication course. Talk according to
the preferences of the institution at Montclair State and Oswego, but following
the classic paradigms of informative, persuasive, and celebratory speaking.
Similar, in many respects, to the course I taught under Lucas as a graduate
student at the University of Wisconsin. I've used several different texts
in teaching this course, including both the Lucas and Engleberg and Daly texts.
A relatively easy and fun to teach introductory course.
- Interpersonal Communication (for Health Professionals)
- An adaptation of the Interpersonal Communication course to the needs and experiences of health professionals (especially nurses). The principle adaptations involved bring
- Sophomore Engineering Clinic Public Speaking
- A variation of the basic public speaking course communication course oriented to the presentation requirements associated with engineering. Used Lucas as the text, but made adaptations, based on my considerable experience doing public speaking as a software engineer that aligned the principles of public speaking with the engineering paradigm.
I have taught, proposed, and expressed interest in teaching other courses
as well. None that are left out of the above are uninteresting or less likely
to intertwine with my research interests. My research is indelibly intertwined
with my teaching. I find it impossible to teach without finding connections
and new research interests. I find my research benefits immensely from the
challenges of the classroom. They are threads in a single strand of rope,
and the strength of that rope is in the reinforcement they give each other.