Teaching & Courses
UNDERGRADUATE, GRADUATE, AND EXECUTIVE COURSES (scroll down for current course descriptions)
Media, Politics, and Public Culture
Communication in Public Settings
Advanced Communication Training
Public Campaigns & Advocacy
Public Communication and Organizations
The Art & Science of Communication: Theories for Leadership and Life
Communication Theories (capstone)
Democracy in the Information Age
Communication for Press Secretaries
Communication as a Liberal Art
Communication Strategy (PAF 9139, offered every Winter [MPA]/Spring [XMPA)
This seminar builds upon PAF 9103, focusing on persuasive institutional communication strategies and campaigns. The course takes an “attention economy” approach to developing strategy, assuming that attention is now the scarcest resource of our age. Readings, lessons, and discussions will cover credible, social scientific influence strategies (and the many obstacles and ethical issues related to such practices), which advance us beyond merely “intuitive” or “tradition-bound” approaches to this subject. In so doing, this class will provide students with cutting-edge techniques from a variety of academic and professional fields working at the forefront of public change, including: communication, social marketing, behavioral economics, public sector relations and advertising, organizational psychology, public diplomacy, entertaining activism, and online and social media advocacy. Students will learn how to coordinate messages across a diverse array of programs and media, and conduct communication audits to keep an institution focused on essential internal and external communication practices. By the end, you will walk away from this course with a toolkit of practical communication strategies/plans that can be applied immediately in your everyday work in public affairs.
Media, Politics, and Public Culture (PAF 9699/9104, offered every Winter/Summer [MPA])
There is no issue in public affairs unaffected by the way our modern media environment operates. This online class casts a critical perspective on how the media either advance or limit the potential for democratic values to take hold in public life. It highlights how substantive understandings of media, politics, and public culture remain central to the promotion of every one of our chosen issues, from education to healthcare—and how media reform has come to be one of the most important but least debated topics over the last century. Through a survey of some of the most current, pressing questions about the media and journalism, the course will cover how elites work with media systems to manufacture consent and ideology among citizens, the domestic and global forces working for and against media diversity, and the possibilities for individuals or groups to monitor, preserve, or challenge the power resulting from such practices. The study of the messages that shape and express our political choices, the audiences and technologies that carry those messages, and most important, the media institutions and policies that have guided their creation, provides us with better insights into the very aspirations of a society. The use of new and social media for participation in the political process, the crossings of civic and popular culture, and trends in media convergence and spreadable content will all be emphasized. Students will work to form and skillfully articulate a vision for how we might best move forward among the thicket of astonishing concerns and uncertainties raised by readings, online discussions, guided lessons, and numerous film/documentary viewings.
Communication in Public Settings (PAF 9103, offered every Winter [XMPA]/Summer [NUF]) and Managerial Communication (BUS 9555, offered every Fall [EMBA])
Communication is the one of the most complex, pervasive, and consequential subjects on our planet (National Communication Association credo). With a concentrated focus upon the needs of XMPA/NUF/EMBA students, this course trains leaders to both understand and skillfully apply effective and ethical communication in their respective spheres of influence. In doing so, it attends to the broad possibilities and constraints that individuals and groups face within local, national, and globalizing contexts. The class covers advanced, cutting-edge knowledge for translating complex material in oral and written communication, techniques to increase comfort, confidence, and persuasiveness across a variety of settings, and best practices in leadership communication, group styles, and audience interaction. This course employs a problem-based focus, stepping back from and analyzing ours and others’ communication habits, and then stepping back into the action to experiment with alternative practices. No matter what communication training you have received, this class will go a long way toward your ongoing development as an excellent speaker, writer, and organizational advocate—following a workshop/lab format with assignments that build upon one another for the application of theory and refinement of skills.
Advanced Communication Training (next offered Fall 2015)
Public Campaigns & Advocacy (PAF 3108, offered every Fall/Spring [BSPA])
Students will create and manage persuasive campaigns for a range of public causes. The course focuses on theories of persuasion and social influence, and classic media campaigns such as public service announcements against drunk driving and ads for political candidates. Through such studies, class members will learn how to apply persuasion principles and advocacy strategies to influence diverse audiences in contemporary contexts involving issue advertising, election drives, cultural activism, new media, and movement communication. Prerequisite: ENG 2150.
Public Communication and Organizations (PAF 3201 [BSPA])
Students are taught in this course to understand and apply communication skills in public affairs. The class provides cutting-edge tools for deliberation and speech in organizational environments, focusing on: professional styles and habits, audience analysis, institutional adaptation, political argument, rhetoric, media training, and the innovative use of technologies. New perspectives and practical skills will be acquired for engaging public issues. Prerequisite: ENG 2150
Humor Matters (IDC 4050H, next offered Fall 2013)
This course takes a deep and broad exploration of humor as a pervasive feature of human existence. The class covers types of humor and comedy, including wit, wordplay, satire, parody, irony, and more—and theories of why we laugh, why humor is a learnable skill, and how the art and science of humor benefits the body and soul. The course will use New York City as a vibrant laboratory for exploring the comic side of life, including outings to watch stand-up comedy performances and shows like The Book of Mormon. The class will also cover how humor has been applied across many areas of human endeavor, for example, the therapeutic uses of humor in healthcare and social service settings. Additionally, the course will focus on the use of humor in cross-cultural communication, especially in breaking down taboos, and issues related to race, ethnicity, and religion. Course materials will include academic and professional works on humor, clips from a variety of media, and collaborative, practical assignments. In examining what makes people laugh and why, the course attempts to connect participants with many of the things that make us most fully human.
The Art & Science of Communication: Theories for Leadership and Life (Macaulay Honors Program, next offered Spring 2014)
This course examines some of the most significant ideas about communication to emerge in the past century, focusing on their relevance and meaning for everyday life—and their potential to point us toward more resilient, informed, and innovative practices in professional settings. Starting with vexing interpersonal problems and ending with critical global issues, students will learn and discuss how many practical theories of communication can illuminate and challenge our notions of how humankind might best proceed into the future. The class aims to provide a behavioral blueprint for aspiring leaders needing to understand and negotiate the increasingly complex dimensions of messages, meanings, and cultures in their public work.
This course examines methods and functions of criticism in forms of public communication. Students will apply historical-contextual, textual, and interpretive procedures to public artifacts. Classes will cover diverse theoretical and conceptual approaches such as dramatism, genre, and ideological criticism.