Communication

The Bachelor of Arts in Communications emphasizes three interrelated areas of public relations and organizational cultures, public advocacy and democratic cultures, and intercultural/international communication and global cultures.  Beyond these core areas, students also take courses in complementary areas focusing on communication in context and media, narrative, and identity.  Each area has a practical focus in which written and oral communication skills and interpersonal awareness are developed; in addition, the communication degree is designed to emphasize the intellectual, historical, and critical perspectives emerging from the intersections between and among these larger areas of communication inquiry. This approach presents communication as a challenging, creative skill to be mastered, and, moreover, as an integral process through which democratic and professional possibilities are shaped and social realities constructed.

A prominent emphasis on culture and community connects disciplinary work in communication with the integrative understanding of people’s needs and interests that characterizes the best work in anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. The program combines this strong theoretical foundation with the practical skills training to prepare students for any number of opportunities in our globalized multicultural and highly technological environment.

In addition to the major requirements, students must complete all CASL Degree Requirements.

Major Requirements

Pre-Major Requirements
SPEE 101Principles of Speech Comm3
COMM 220Intro to Media & Culture3
Required Core area I
COMM 366Public Comm and Culture Stdies4
Required Core Area II
Select one course from each of the following areas:
Public Relations and Organizational Cultures. One course from:4
Public Relations Principles
Communication Research Methods
Public Relations Campaigns
International/Intercultural Communication and Global Cultures. One course from:4
Critical Media Studies
International Communications
Gender and Media Studies
Public Advocacy and Democratic Cultures. One course from:4
Risk and Crisis Communication
Public Argument and Advocacy
20th Century Public Argument
Media, Narrative and Identity. One course from:4
Narrative and Identity
Critical Media Studies
Gender and Media Studies
Contexts and Capstones. One course from:4
Health Communication
International Communications
Public Relations Campaigns
20th Century Public Argument
Cognate
Must be an upper level course from any CASL discipline (excluding Communication (COMM) and Speech (SPEE), and MATH 381, 382, 383, 384, 385, 386, 387). 3-4
Required Experiential Education
Humanities Internship or Senior Thesis 14
Total Credit Hours37-38
1

On-the-job experience gained through an internship HUM 485  is invaluable for students of any major. Because of this, all Communications students are required to participate in an internship or senior thesis. Many new college graduates lack the “soft skills” that employers seek. Communications graduates at the University of Michigan-Dearborn will have a distinct advantage. There is a seminar component to both the internship and the co-op.

The senior thesis COMM 397 is for students who have prior communications industry experience and would like to relate their experience to the theory and practice of communications without having to spend time in the field.

Notes:

  1. A maximum of 63 hrs of COMM and SPEE may count toward the 120 hrs required for graduation.
  2. At least 15 of the 31 upper level hours in the COMM major must be elected at UM-D.

Minor or Integrative Studies Concentration Requirements

A minor or concentration in Communication consists of 12 credit hours of approved upper-level courses in COMM/SPEE. In addition, students must complete one of the prerequisites listed below.

Prerequisites

COMM 220Intro to Media & Culture3
or SPEE 101 Principles of Speech Comm
Total Credit Hours3

Courses for the Minor or Concentration

Required Core I
COMM 366Public Comm and Culture Stdies4
Required Core II
Select one course from the following:4
Communication Research Methods
Health Communication
Interpersonal Communication
Public Argument and Advocacy
Required Core III
Select one course from the following:4
Narrative and Identity
Critical Media Studies
20th Centry Public Argument
Risk and Crisis Communication
Total Credit Hours12
  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required for the minor/concentration. The GPA is based on all coursework required within the minor (excluding prerequisites).
  • A minimum of 9 credits must be completed at UM-Dearborn for a 12 credit minor/concentration.
  • A minimum of 12 credits must be completed at UM-Dearborn for a 15 or more credit minor/concentration.
  • Courses within a minor/concentration cannot be taken as Pass/Fail (P/F)
  • Only 3 credit hours of independent study or internship may be used to fulfill the requirements for a 12 credit hour minor/concentration.  Only 6 credit hours of such credit may be used in a 15 or more credit hour minor/concentration.
  • Minors requiring 12 credits may share one course with a major. Minors requiring 15 credits or more may share two courses with a major. This does not apply to concentrations for the Integrative Studies major.

Learning Goals

  1. Writing effective audience-oriented texts within multiple communication contexts
  2. Speaking effectively within multiple rhetorical contexts
  3. Understanding critically the histories and institutional contexts of communication practices
  4. Understanding critically the research traditions and tools within the field of communication
  5. Understanding organizational, civic and global perspectives on communicative practices
  6. Applying critical and interpretive approaches to analyze media content and institutions
  7. Integrating the theory and practice of communication in multiple contexts

COMM 220     Intro to Media & Culture     3 Credit Hours

Full Course Title: Introduction to Media and Culture: Course focuses on the role of media as cultural institutions that both maintain and challenge power structures. Includes critical analyses of media such as television, music, film, internet, and print publications, as well as emerging technologies. Course examines media as being shaped by but also shaping cultural, economic, legal, political and other aspects of society. Considers the role of media in a democracy, as crucial forums for the deliberation of pressing issues, and as key sites for the creation of meaning.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280

COMM 260     Public Relations Principles     4 Credit Hours

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of public relations, including the theories, principles, and process of public relations. Students will explore currents trends as well as significant events in the development of the field. Areas of emphasis include history, organizational relations, strategic planning, media relations, ethics, and best practices. Students will apply what they learn via PR deliverables, including a profile of a practitioner, a press release, and an email pitch. (YR).

COMM 300     Communication Research Methods     4 Credit Hours

An introduction to the most prominent methods used in research that examines human communication. Students will learn how to evaluate and integrate into their own writing and research project proposals elements from existing communication studies that use surveys, experiments, naturalistic research (i.e., interviews, focus groups, ethnography), content analysis, and rhetorical analysis. This class provides the skills necessary for designing original research projects and for interpreting and critically evaluating existing research. (F, W).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107

COMM 306     Comparat. American Identities     3 Credit Hours

This course will confront and complicate the following key questions: what does it mean to be an American? What is American culture? Participants in this course will respond to the questions central to the American Studies field by reading and discussing historical, sociological, literary, artistic, material culture, political, economic, and other sources. Students will use this interdisciplinary study to examine the multiple identities of Americans - as determined by factors such as gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion. While emphasizing the diversity of American culture, participants will consider some core values and ideas uniting America both in historical and contemporary society. Students will be invited to seek out and share fresh narratives of the American experience.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 317     Case Studies in Prof & Tech Writing     3 Credit Hours

COMM/COMP 317 provides both practical and conceptual studies informing professional and technical writing practices. The course offers in-depth treatment of problems within written communication and information design for diverse audiences. Instructional format includes lectures and discussions based on case material derived from actual events. Themes include document design, accessibility, and the usability of professional and technical documents in the field. (F, W, S).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

Restriction(s):
Cannot enroll if Class is
Can enroll if College is Arts, Sciences, and Letters or Education, Health, and Human Services or Business
Can enroll if Major is

COMM 340     Professional Communication     3 Credit Hours

Course covers essential skills of professional written and oral communication within the organization; the purpose, process, and problems of professional communication; the influence of organizational structure; audience analysis; the writing and editing of reports (formal and informal, including memo reports) and of professional correspondence; the preparation of graphics; and the planning and delivery of oral presentations. May count toward Communications minor. (F,W,S).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior or Graduate

COMM 360     Social Media for PR     3 Credit Hours

This course explores the emerging social media technologies and studies their application in contemporary PR practice. It examines the nature and role of social media in organizations and explores technologies including blogs, Microblogs, collaboration tools, podcasts, viral video, social bookmarking, mobile platforms, and other evolving technologies.

Prerequisite(s): COMM 260

Restriction(s):
Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman

COMM 364     Writing for Civic Literacy     3 Credit Hours

In Writing for Civic Literacy, students will study how politicians, the media and critical citizens use language to engage with the broader community. Students themselves will learn to use language to become more active, well-informed citizens. They will study rhetorical awareness, audience analysis and persuasive writing techniques and put those lessons to use in community settings. They will perform community service at agencies of their choosing and use those experiences as objects of analysis, researching the social context in which those agencies operate and writing analytically about the agencies. Further, students will synthesize classroom lessons and real-world experience by executing writing tasks for and with the agencies (these tasks might include editorials for the local press, informational webpages and fundraising materials).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

COMM 365     Health Communication     4 Credit Hours

This course examines theory and research relevant to health communication including in patient-provider, interpersonal, intercultural, organizational, and mass communication contexts. Through case studies, guest speakers, media examples, role playing, and discussion, students will be equipped to (a) analyze how messages from patient-provider, interpersonal, intercultural, organizational, and media sources affect health beliefs and behaviors, (b) evaluate the quality of communication in health and illness contexts, (c) apply this knowledge to become a more active participant in your OWN health care. (W, YR).

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 366     Public Comm and Culture Stdies     4 Credit Hours

This gateway course provides the theoretical and methodological foundation to embark on the study of three key interrelated spheres of communication: Public Advocacy and Democratic Culture, Public Relations and Organizational Culture, and Intercultural/ International Communication and Global Culture. Students will have the opportunity to examine important issues within each of the major areas as well as explore connections between the different areas within particular communication contexts. Through a variety of class exercises, course assignments and readings examining both theoretical and contextual elements of communication, students will acquire an analytical and practical "toolkit" enabling them to function effectively as communicators in culturally diverse organizations and civic contexts. (F, W).

COMM 381     Postwar European Cinema     3 Credit Hours

The course will concentrate on a series of films from various European countries with a focus on the socio-political issues, historical events and cultural preoccupations that have defined and also challenged European societies from WWII to the present. Zeroing in on the construction of European identities, the course will analyze and compare modes of narrating national, class, racial, sexual and social differences in different European nations. Themes such as memories of war and the Holocaust, new conflicts, class, immigration, women's rights, gender, and East-West relations will be addressed. The course will thus privilege a cinema that offers a "récit," a story. Particular attention will be given to discourses on otherness and on the ways in which film culture has reflected, reinforced, reshaped and, in some instances, contested Europe's past and current dominant ideologies, and identities. Readings by cultural historians and analysts will provide the context for an understanding of the films. The course will conclude with a discussion of the possible existence of a specific postwar European Cinema.

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Freshman or Sophomore or Junior or Senior

COMM 390     Topics in Communication     3 Credit Hours

A course in nonfiction narrative that focuses on memoir writing, emphasizing technique. Students will read book-length examples by Azar Nafizi, Nelson Mandela, Frank Conroy, Mar Karr, Susanna Kaysen, Frank McCourt, Ann Patchett and Joan Didion, examining these books as models for writing.

COMM 397     Communications Thesis     3 Credit Hours

A thesis project that is the culmination of the Communications major. Students will choose the project area and write a thesis (40-50 pages) under the direction of a Communications faculty member. The thesis option is available only to students with substantial practical experience in the communication field, and requires the approval of Communications faculty.

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 398     Independent Studies-Comm     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Readings, supervised practice, or analytical assignments in Communications, determined in accordance with the needs and interests of those enrolled. May count toward Communications minor. (F,W).

COMM 400     Narrative and Identity     4 Credit Hours

This class explores the role that communication plays through storytelling in the creation and management of the complex identities people inhabit at various levels of society. We examine the ways in which personal, family, subcultural, organizational, mass mediated, and intercultural and transnational narratives can affect the shaping and reshaping of individual and group identities. This includes the study of multiple identities as members of families, communities, civil societies, and businesses, and those that involve different social locations like gender, race, and ethnicity. Students will learn theoretical tools and examine case studies to better understand the communicative aspects of identity creation and recreation. Students will write their own narratives about personal identity changes and present them through blogs, podcast episodes, or recorded oral presentations. (YR).

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 420     Critical Media Studies     4 Credit Hours

Course presents various critical approaches to the study of the media. Perspectives include political economy, cultural studies, critical theory of the Frankfurt school and feminism. Through readings and first hand analysis of the media students will delve deeply into the institutional underpinnings, content, use and reception of media. There will be special emphasis on how broader economic, cultural and technological changes influence our experience of media in everyday life as creators, citizens, audiences and consumers. (YR).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 422     Language and Popular Culture     3 Credit Hours

This course provides an overview of popular culture theories and communication models along with research methods. It offers an accessible, in-depth presentation of popular culture including music, film, television, magazines, comics, animation, and advertising in the US and the beyond. The main focus of the course is to highlight the functions of language, particularly, dialects, accents, and foreign languages, in producing and consuming local and global pop culture texts.

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 430     International Communications     4 Credit Hours

Course examines the relationship between globalization and communication from various vantage points such as cultural imperialism, global media flows, and hybridity theory. Students use these theoretical approaches to understand how people in particular locations experience, adapt, resist and modify globally circulating aspects of media, popular culture, news and information. Through critical responses to readings, class exercises, individual and team projects, students also explore how global pressures and changes influence the way people understand and project their identities, buy and sell communication as a commodity, negotiate borders, and create social change. (W).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 442     20th Centry Public Argument     4 Credit Hours

This class will examine and critically analyze several of the most significant speeches, movements, and rhetorical artifacts of the twentieth century. Through lectures, discussions, and analysis of speeches and other texts, we will focus on the relationship between rhetoric and history, and how theories of rhetorical action help us appreciate the role of discourse in the effective functioning of a democratic system. Emphasis will be placed on case studies (both social movements and other persuasive enterprises) that illustrate the theory and practice of persuasion and how citizens and institutions employ persuasive strategies and tactics to effect and resist change in their community and society at large. (YR).

Prerequisite(s): SPEE 101

COMM 450     Principle of Organization Comm     3 Credit Hours

Course examines how communication networks function in organizations. Purpose: to provide an organizational context and conceptual framework for the practice of professional writing and speaking skills. Writing projects include a research report, a case study, and several shorter papers, practical and analytical, on assigned topics. Students cannot receive credit for both COMM 450 and COMM 550. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): COMM 340 or COMM 360 or COMM 440

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 455     Gender and Media Studies     3 Credit Hours

The course will focus on several feminist approaches used in understanding the media and attempting to create social change through the media. The role of media in the definition and reproduction of gender-based hierarchies and in the renegotiation of gender boundaries will both be explored. To this end, both mainstream and women's media will be examined. The course will take a multicultural and international perspective, incorporating concerns of class, race, ethnicity, and nation as these intersect with the study of gender and media. Mainstream and alternative media will be analyzed through readings, films, case studies, in-class collaborative exercises and longer term projects. News, entertainment, and advertising genres will be examined in a variety of media such as the printed press, television, video, film, and the Internet. (W).

Prerequisite(s): WGST 275 or WGST 303 or ANTH 275 or PSYC 275 or SOC 275 or ANTH 303 or PSYC 303 or SOC 303 or HUM 275 or HUM 303 or WST 275

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Sophomore or Junior or Senior
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 460     Public Relations Campaigns     4 Credit Hours

This course surveys a broad spectrum of public relations campaigns including different communication tools and techniques, message strategies, and traditional/non-traditional media choices. Students will develop a campaign for a real organization and will present their ideas convincingly using oral and written communication. Throughout the semester, a strong emphasis will be placed on case studies of best practices, social media tactics, and campaign measurement. (YR).

Prerequisite(s): COMM 260

COMM 462     Transnational Rhetorics     3 Credit Hours

Full Course Title: Transnational Rhetorics: Writers Across Borders "Transnational Rhetorics" engages students in reading and writing stories that cross various forms or borders. These borders might be national, as in stories about immigration or displacement. Or, the borders might be more abstract, like the assumed borders between race, class, and gender, or even the possible barriers we perceive between personal experience and world events. In this course, we will read stories about people who reflect on these kinds of border-crossings. We will then take a rhetorical approach to these narratives and examine how they work, what similarities they share, and importantly, how they address their audiences. Then, we will then produce--in turn--our own border-crossing essays that attend to the same issues of audience, context, narrative, and creativity. (OC)

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

COMM 464     Contemporary Rhetorical Theory     3 Credit Hours

An examination of contemporary rhetorical theories through study of representative practitioners and related developments in linguistics, philosophy, psychology, communication, and composition and rhetoric. Students may not receive credit for both COMP 464 and COMP 564.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107 or COMP 280

Restriction(s):
Cannot enroll if Class is

COMM 465     Risk and Crisis Communication     4 Credit Hours

Effective communication is necessary for successfully preparing for, responding to, and recovering from crisis events. These emergencies can include public health crises (e.g., infectious diseases, food contagions, hazardous chemical releases, terrorist attacks) and threats to an organization’s ability to operate (e.g., natural/environmental disasters, cybersecurity breaches, sexual harassment accusations). This course examines risk and crisis communication research, theory, and practices. Special emphasis is placed on crisis planning, media relationships, image restoration, ethical responses, and organizational learning, particularly in situations in which the health and wellbeing of the public is at stake. Students will present real life cases of crisis and risk/crisis management, and later turn these presentations into blogs, podcasts, or (TED)-style talks. (YR).

Restriction(s):
Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 466     Arguing Feminism: Rhetoric, Writing & Advocacy     3 Credit Hours

Full course title: Arguing Feminism: Rhetoric, Writing & Advocacy. An introduction to the work of major twentieth century feminists working in rhetoric and related fields. Students examine recurring themes of language, meaning, ethics and ideology, and practice writing strategies which address rhetorical and ethical concerns central to feminist/academic writing. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 40 or Composition Placement Score with a score of 107

Restriction(s):
Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 481     Gender and Globalization     3 Credit Hours

Mass media, politics, and academia are full of references to globalization, and a future "world without borders." This interdisciplinary course considers the implication of globalization for women's lives, gender relations, and feminism. Topics covered include the global factory, cross-cultural consumption, human rights, global communications, economic restructuring, nationalism, and environmental challenges. Rather than survey international women's movements, this course explores how globalization reformulates identities and locations and the political possibilities they create. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): HUM 303 or SOC 303 or PSYC 303 or WGST 303

Restriction(s):
Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman or Sophomore
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate
Can enroll if College is Arts, Sciences, and Letters

*An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.

Frequency of Offering

The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally