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Curriculum

Core Courses (3 course units):

Required

NURS/PUBH 565
Health Communication in the Digital Age

TBD

NURS547
Scientific Inquiry for Evidence-based Practice

This course is designed to advance students’ understanding of the research process, methods of scientific inquiry, and analytical techniques. Students acquire knowledge of systematic approaches used by scientists to design and conduct studies. Course content prepares students to appraise quantitative and qualitative research, and evaluate the scientific merit and clinical significance of research for translation into practice. Evidence-based guidelines are examined and rated for strength of evidence and expert consensus using evidence grading systems and defined criteria. Students engage in variety of creative learning experiences to facilitate appreciative inquiry, clinical reasoning, and evidence-based practice. Quality improvement, comparative effectiveness analyses, information science, and electronic health systems technology demonstrate the capacity for measurement and surveillance of nursing-sensitive and other outcomes used to evaluate quality nursing care and test interventions. Ethical, legal and health policy implications for research are explored. This course serves as the basis for scientific inquiry about human experiences to address important problems that require solutions and to expand the research and the evidence base for professional nursing practice.

Choose two courses:

Comm 125
Introduction to Communication Behavior

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of communication behavior. It focuses on social science studies relating to the processes and effects of mass communication. Research reviewed includes media use behavior and media influences on knowledge, perceptions of social reality, aggressive behavior, and political behavior.

Comm 130
Introduction to Mass Media and Society

This introductory course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the role of the print, electronic, and digital media industries in contemporary American society and their cultural implications. We will begin by developing a broad overview of the mass-communication system by situating the media industries within broader social, economic, and regulatory contexts. We will then explore the ways in which these industries are changing and converging as they face the media landscape of the twentyfirst century. Particular attention will be paid to the history, production, distribution, and exhibition of each of the following industries: book, newspaper, magazine, sound recording, radio, motion picture, television, internet, video games, advertising, and public relations.

Comm 237
Health Communication

Students in this course will learn and practice step-by-step skills for designing, implementing, and evaluating health communication interventions for local, regional and national audiences by using established and emerging social and behavioral sciences theories and empirical evidence. This course will also introduce students to practical issues in the design of health communication interventions, steps for evaluating of the impact of communication interventions, and issues related to ethics and disparities in health communication. Students will also have the opportunity to design their own health communication program focusing on an issue important to them. 

Elective Courses (3 course units):

Comm 110
Communication and Culture

Communication and Culture 

Comm 130
Introduction to Mass Media and Society

This introductory course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the role of the print, electronic, and digital media industries in contemporary American society and their cultural implications. We will begin by developing a broad overview of the mass-communication system by situating the media industries within broader social, economic, and regulatory contexts. We will then explore the ways in which these industries are changing and converging as they face the media landscape of the twentyfirst century. Particular attention will be paid to the history, production, distribution, and exhibition of each of the following industries: book, newspaper, magazine, sound recording, radio, motion picture, television, internet, video games, advertising, and public relations.

Comm 213
Social Media and Social Life

The irruption of social media as a means of communication has been said to transform many dimensions of social life, from how we interact with significant others to how we engage in public life - but has it, really? Regardless of the specific technology (blogs, micro-blogs, social networking sites, peer-to-peer networks), social media make interdependence more prevalent, and exposure to information more pervasive. But social networks, and the ties that bring us together, have long mediated the way in which we obtain information, engage in public discussion, and are recruited or mobilized for a public cause. So what has social media brought to the table that is new? This course will evaluate the evidence that can help us answer this question, as well as challenge conventional views and discuss questions that remain open. The effects of social media on ideological polarization, social influence and peer pressure, agenda-setting dynamics, and the formation and effects of social capital are examples of the substantive topics and theoretical debates that will be considered.

Taught by: Gonzalez-Bailon

Course not offered every year

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

Comm 225
Children and Media

This course examines children’s relationship to media in its historic, economic, political, and social contexts. The class explores the ways in which “childhood” is created and understood as a time of life that is qualitatively unique and socially constructed over time. It continues with a review of various theories of child development as they inform children’s relationship with and understanding of television and other household media. It next reviews public policies designed to empower parents and limit children’s exposure to potentially problematic media content and simultaneously considers the economic forces that shape what children see and buy. The course concludes with a critical examination of research on the impact of media on children’s physical, cognitive, social, and psychological development.

Comm 226
Introduction to Political Communication

This course is an introduction to the field of political communication, conceptual approaches to analyzing communication in various forms, including advertising, speech making, campaign debates, and candidates’ and office-holders’ uses of news. The focus of this course is on the interplay in the U.S. between television and politics. The course includes a history of televised campaign practices from the 1952 presidential contest through the election of 2012.

Comm 230
Advertising and Society

This course will explore the historical and contemporary role of the advertising industry in the U.S. media system. Readings will include social histories of advertising, economic examinations of advertising’s role in society, and critical analysis of the ad industry’s power over the media.

Comm 240
Film Forms and Context

This course explores the formal language of movies, their place in the media industry, and their role in culture. This course will also include a production element, however no previous experience with filmmaking is required.

COMM 243
Ethnography and Media for Social Justice

How do qualitative social scientists study urban communities? What kinds of powerful tales can be told about urban lifestyles and social issues in places like Philadelphia? This course will allow students to study various ethnographic treatments of urban communities in the United States, using films, articles, TV serials, and books as guides for the framing of their own independent research on the streets of Philadelphia. Students will also form production teams of two or three people, and these production teams will be responsible for (i) identifying and researching an important urban issue in contemporary an important urban issue in contemporary Philadelphia and (ii) turning that research into a 15-30 minute video documentary or pod cast. Mixing video/audio journalism with ethnographic methods will enhance their skills at archival and social research, from participant observation and interviewing techniques to sound editing and production. This course is intended to be a rigorous and exciting opportunity for students to tell empirically grounded stories using the voices of their participants and the sounds of the city.

Taught by: Lingel

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

COMM 245
Teens and Screens: Understanding Youth Media Behavior

Why do screen media and digital technologies captivate youth? In this course we address this question by examining the role media play in adolescent development and behavior. We begin by considering adolescence as a unique period of psychological and social development and discussing emerging adults as a special population. Next, we will explore how adolescents use and interact with media and how their media preferences are related to their developmental needs, with particular attention to social media use and media content targeted to, and popular with, adolescent audiences. Finally, we will investigate how media influence adolescent self-identity and behavior by reviewing media effects in areas of sex, violence, gender norms, and friendship quality. The strength of the evidence for media effects and its behavioral and policy implications will be presented and debated within each area of study. Relevant theoretical perspectives will inform these discussions. Throughout the semester students will critically reflect upon current empirical research while also spotlighting different media-TV shows, social media apps (e.g., Yik Yak) and social movements (e.g., #iammorethanadistraction).

Taught by: Bleakley

Course usually offered in fall term

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

Comm 262
Visual Communication

Images permeate our everyday lives. Whether we are watching the news on TV, watching a movie on our laptops, or checking out a website on our smartphones, we are in constant interaction with images. In this course, we will learn why visual literacy matters. What do images tell us? How do we ‘read’ them? How do we produce them? The course explores these questions by introducing students to the techniques of visual communication, or how ideas, concepts, and narratives are conveyed through images - both still and moving. Using advertisements, television shows and film clips as case studies, we will examine both the formal features (e.g. design) and contextual elements (e.g. circulation) of images. We will explore how images are never ‘neutral’ because they work to support particular messages and agendas. Because our ability to analyze media is strengthened by media practice, we also will create our own visual artifacts (e.g. a short film, a digital collage, a small comic book, etc.) as part of the course. 

COMM 275
Communication and Persuasion

At its basic level, this course is designed to introduce students to the persuasive function of communication. Understanding how communication and persuasion work to influence people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors is an important tool, given the significant resources required for most persuasive efforts and the wide range of contexts in which attempts to persuade are made. For example, students might consider how political messages, health campaigns, or social marketing efforts produce change. This course provides an opportunity to increase overall media literacy by cultivating the ability to critically assess and understand how messages influence individuals and society, to recognize and use persuasive tactics, identify marketing strategies, and develop skills to create and distribute your own persuasive messages. Equipped with a foundation in communication theory and message design, students will pursue independent research projects in an area of their choosing (e.g. public health, politics, public service).

COMM 337
Communicating about Health: Strategic Communication in the New Media Environment

Communicating about health is increasingly challenging in a time when communicators must deal simultaneously with audience generated content, like Twitter, industry generated algorithms, and a culture rife with deniers and factoids. This course examines the uses and misuses of strategic communication across a wide variety of health messages, audiences and purposes. It explores new approaches to audience segmentation, message design systems within the health messaging arena. A primary focus will be on developing knowledge about and critical tools to analyze words and images related to health and disease. Informed by classical rhetorical concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos applied in new environments, it will examine notions of communities and uses of persuasion. The influences of law, policy, and advocacy (informed and dis-informed) on the development of health-related attitudes, beliefs, and habits will be considered within in a substantially changing media environment. And, because it belongs in any discussion of communicating about health, the theory and practice of health literacy and cultural respect will be introduced. The course concludes with the choice of a final project that is either 1) an analysis of a current strategic health communication effort; or, 2) the creation of a new health communication strategy.

Taught by: Allen

Course not offered every year

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

 

Comm 341
Children’s Media Policy

This course takes a philosophical, historical, and practical approach to understanding why and how the US media industries are regulated. It begins by examining the philosophical tension regarding free speech rights vs. child protection obligations and the media effects beliefs that would drive media regulation. Next, it examines the process of media policy formation and implementation, including the role of regulatory agencies, industry lobbyists, academic researchers and child advocates in advancing distinct policy agendas. Throughout the course we survey a range of policy actions, from legislatively required parental monitoring tools (such as the V-Chip) to voluntary industry efforts (such as network restriction of junk food advertising). We consider evidence of the success of these efforts in limiting children’s exposure to damaging content and in improving parents’ ability to supervise their children’s media use.

COMM 385
Media Activism and Social Change

This course offers students the opportunity to explore the relationship between the media industry and the public and the role groups and movements can play in holding the media accountable to serve the public interest. We will wrestle with what that responsibility looks like by engaging the following questions: What obligations do media outlets have to offer fair, accurate, unbiased and inclusive representations in news and entertainment? How do media “insiders” understand this responsibility? Is it clear when a talk show host “crosses the line?” How do we define balance? Are there really two sides to every issue? What is media advocacy? What does it look like? What are the strategies and tactics employed by media activists? How do media insiders effectively contend with media outsiders lobbying for change? These questions will be explored in historically contextualized ways, using a diverse menu of social and political movements and examining the issues with recourse to all sides of the political spectrum.

Taught by: Garry

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Seminar

1 Course Unit

 

To enroll in the Health Communications Minor, students must:

  • Complete an application for a minor
  • Plan a course of study with their advisor
  • Get the application signed by their faculty advisor and the Health Communication advisors, and submit the completed form to the Office of Student Services (Fagin Hall, Ste. M-18)

Upon completion of the minor and with approval of the designated advisors, the Office of Student Information will record the minor on the student’s transcript.