Courses & Syllabi

Over the years I have taught a wide range of courses. Here are some of the more recent courses and syllabi.

UMass Boston

Communication & Social Mobilization (Comm 340) Spring 2017 – Syllabus

Social Movements are collective, organized, sustained, and non-institutional challenges to authorities, power-holders, or cultural beliefs and practices. The focus of this course is on social movements as a collective challenge to authority, whose aim is to change society or institute structural changes in an existing state or organization. The purpose of this course is to explore the role of communication and media in social movements. Therefore, while reading about many aspects of social movements the course participants will maintain a communication lens. This course will allow participants to collaboratively explore frameworks, methods, and tools for understanding networked social movements in the digital media ecology. To better understand media use in movements, the course will explore both theoretical and empirical literature and look at core concepts and current research in areas like: social media; political mobilization; media framing; social movements; collective identity; tactical media; protest cycles; civil rights; democratic process; civil disobedience and more. The course will look at major social theory from the fields of media, sociology and political science Through the introduction of theoretical works and case studies on a range of current and historical social movements in both democratic and nondemocratic state settings. The aim is to give participants a solid foundation of communication & media theory in relation to social movements. Upon completion, participants will be able to contextualize and analyze social movements and understand the critical role of media & communication to their development and growth.

(Older version: Fall 2015 syllabus)

New Media Society (Comm 200) Spring 2017 – Syllabus

The purpose of this course is to study how “new media” such as digital devices, social networking, social media, mobility lead to new practices that influence all facets of community, social relationships, and public and private spaces.

Privacy (Comm 480) Fall 2016 – Syllabus

Privacy has always been connected to the ability to snoop, and for most of history the power and technology to snoop has been in the hands of governments. However, the past two decades has seen a radical technological shift that has taken the power to snoop and put it in the hands of everyday people. At the same time, governments have also employed technology and their ability to snoop has radically increased. One effect of all this surveillance is a lack of understanding or energy to deal with its effects. This course will explore the effects of surveillance technologies from the everyday devices to the most sophisticated. It will analyze the effects of technology on society, culture and law. Students will gain insights into the impact of surveillance and technological empowerment on communication.

(Older version of course Spring 2016)

Hate Speech & Propaganda (Comm 380) Fall 2016 – Syllabus

It is a comfortable error to associate propaganda with war and hate speech with bigots, and by doing this make them less relevant to our everyday lives. However, this is to underappreciate the instances of propaganda and hate speech in everyday life. The goal of this course is to better understand the concepts of propaganda and hate speech. By learning the concepts, and studying the practices, of propaganda the participant will become more aware of the ways in which propaganda is everywhere and permeates almost everything. By studying hate speech and propaganda this course will connect these tools to the ways in which groups are alienated and used in larger political goals. We will interrogate what ideology is, how it can be identified, where it is created and maintained in politics and popular culture. By looking more deeply we will see propagandistic rhetoric in a wide array of contexts, spanning from war, elections, activism, marketing and embedded within popular culture. The course will leave the participant with a greater appreciation between the interplay between communication, ideology, and propaganda from an historical and theoretical perspective, and provide valuable skills to interpret and respond to propaganda and hate speech.

Media & Society (PCSCOR350) Fall 2016 (together with Dr. Gregg) – Syllabus

We live in an age where the media dominate our social, political, and interpersonal interactions. In this age of “mediocracy,” it is vital for us to become active, critical consumers of media. The purpose of this course is to provide you with knowledge and skills to critically analyze media contents and institutions. Topics examined in the course include, but are not limited to, media economics, media and political regulations, media representations of the real world, media audiences, and globalization and media.

News Media and Political Power (Comm 365) Spring 2016 – Syllabus

The news media are sometimes called the fourth branch of government—and for good reason. Much of our exposure to politics comes not from direct experience but from mediated stories. This course is designed to help you think about this relationship between the news media and politics. We will explore how news organizations decide what is news, how they report it, how those reports have an impact on viewers or readers, and ultimately, the political system.


Political Communication (Comm 350) Fall 2015 – Syllabus

Political communication is an interdisciplinary field found at the intersections of communication, media and journalism studies, political science and sociology. Its theoretical foundations and empirical approaches are diverse, drawn as they are from those different fields. And as one of the field of communication’s primary subfields, it is characterized with its focus on developing and answering research questions rather than the development of unified intellectual traditions. Given this, the course is designed to introduce students to major works and topics in this interdisciplinary field. Its reading list is designed to include both ‘classics’ in the field and state-of-the-field work. Political communication’s breadth and diversity makes it difficult to claim comprehensiveness in such a survey, and the choices made here necessarily reflect the interests and expertise of the instructor. The course’s overarching structure follows three major themes: the role of media in society, with particular focus on journalism and news media, how their work is done, and relationships to citizens; the media effects tradition, and what it has contributed to our understanding of media’s impacts on public opinion; and the place of political communications in civic life, with particular concern for media’s role in larger social structures, political communication outside of the media, and the future of citizenship and civic engagement in new media.

Previous Teaching

Civic Media (Comm 371 – Saint Joseph University) Syllabus

Communication Ethics (Comm 201 – Saint Joseph University) Syllabus