Com 478 links
teaching: undergraduate: COM 478
COM 478 seeks to balance the theoretical/scholarly with the practical/political. Accordingly, you will be introduced to a range of writing (scholarly, literary, journalistic) but will be asked to direct your reading (and classroom discussions) to preparing visual communication messages which make class inequality concrete, dramatic and “real” for public audiences – especially in a society/world marked by its increasing “compassion fatigue”.
This is one of the biggest challenges facing all social justice movements: how to make issue/s matter to people. And this is all about communication! In other words, designing strategic, effective messages which make people sit up, listen and, hopefully, act. In preparing your own public messaging, the idea is that you too will begin to understand class inequality as something less abstract, less irrelevant.
Assignments and grade allocation
1. Reading quizzes (25% - graded)
Reading is a major part of all academic learning. There will be four reading quizzes based on the reading schedule (see reading) with six or more questions about the most important ideas or concepts covered in the Schirato & Webb and The New York Times books. We will use the quiz questions as the basis for group discussion. A fifth quiz is scheduled for the end of class - more about this one nearer the time.
2. Visual communication project (50% - credit/no credit)
In 2007, I launched my iNeedle blog which documents "insane manifestations of the chasm between the unforgivably poor and the unjustifiably rich.” The plan is to have you work with me during COM 478 in developing (and hopefully launching) iNeedless - an online resource for collating “best practice” examples of global inequality messaging and for broadcasting your own project work.
Your own project work for COM 478 will consist of working in a group of three people to create a PSA-type public message about class inequality. This might be a Photoshop poster, a cell phone movie, a Powerpoint slideshow which you convert to video, etc. The key to this exercise is the quality of your concept rather than the production qualities. The project is a credit/no-credit assignment but will be judged on the final day of the course for (a) effectiveness and (b) creativity.
3. Journal/research portfolio (15% - credit/no credit)
This is a space in which to record your reading notes, notes from group project discussions, your "best practice" examples and so on. Here you should also record your reflections on the literary extracts in the Coles & Testa book - what you took away from each literary extract. You will need to turn in this journal/research portfolio (in hard copy) at the end of the course. This is graded on a credit/no credit basis but the quality of your notes, reflections etc. will be considered when calculating your "meritorious contribution" grade.
4. Meritorious contribution (10% - graded)
The final component of your grade for COM 478 will be based on the overall quality of your intellectual and collegial contribution to our academic learning. For example, did you engage with the reading discussions, did you make strong contributions to the group project, did you ask questions during the guest speaker presentations, etc.? will be assessed through a self-evaluation combined with an instructor evaluation at the end of the course.
Most people learn by doing not just by watching or listening. And the best way of ‘doing’ is though active participation. This is why independent reading and study is at the very heart of COM 478. As with all courses as the UW, you should be looking to spend an average of 20 hours each week on studying for this class – over and above lecture attendance. This means that COM 478 is pretty much equivalent to a part-time job!
Work not submitted will receive an automatic F (i.e. 0%). Work which does not answer the question will likely receive a D+ grade.
If you have any questions about the requirements for COM 478 in terms of assessment, then please make an appointment to see me as soon as possible after the start of the course.
With regards grading, there are two important points I’d like to make:
- It is my genuine desire to help you excel in COM 478.
- It is your responsibility to demonstrate that your work is more than just ‘satisfactory’.