Classes

  • The Communication Leadership curriculum includes core courses and a variety of electives. All courses are 5 credits unless otherwise indicated. Use the search widget below to sort classes by degree track (MCDM, MCCN, track neutral) and by other attributes (credits, core requirements, etc.).

    Please view the University of Washington Academic Calendar for important dates, including quarter start and end dates, registration dates and deadlines, and campus holidays.

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COM 536: Leadership Through Story and Communities: Creativity and the Digital Age (Crofts) - 2017 Fall

Required Core Course for MCDM and MCCN
Saturdays, 9/23, 10/7, 10/21, 11/4, 11/18, 9:00am-5:00pm | GWN 201

Course Description:

The Comm Lead core classes are designed to build off one another, with the Fall core class focused on personal narrative and leadership styles, with the Spring core class opening the aperture on narrative to include organizational storytelling and engagement. Both classes are also designed to set expectations and behaviors for a fruitful graduate school experience that encourages students to take accountability for their own learning, to see themselves as creatives, as leaders, and as entrepreneurial thinkers whose evolving expertise serves not just their own professional growth, but the wellbeing of their greater community at large.

This foundational class considers personal leadership development through the two lenses of story and community, with particular attention paid to contemporary research on creativity. In this digital age when the technology of communication is so pervasive and accessible, leadership and creativity go hand in hand to produce strong community engagement. Oneʼs personal history and cultural context influences oneʼs leadership style, so using cross-sector profiles and guest speakers, we will carefully consider a range of leaders, their personal narratives, communication styles, and how they connect meaningfully to customers, colleagues, and constituents. As part of the course applied learning, you will be asked to research and produce an original final project concerning a communication issue that you find compelling and that reflects your personal and professional interests, ambitions, and curiosity within the field of communicationStudent Testimonial.

Student Testimonial:

“This course is about being able to understand that leadership and creativity are main tools in developing authentic, real and strategic messages. The class enhances the understanding of communications patterns in current organizations where storytelling becomes a unique tool to reach audiences when messages are everywhere. I learned in this class that one of the main things to true leadership is about opening ourselves to others in order to connect with them. There needs to be an ability to listen to others and care. Online worlds created by the fast-changing digital media technologies go back to the essence of connection with others. This class is the best personal and professional learning experience I had since I started the program. It gave me the creative room to imagine that everything is possible if you open up to yourself and to others. Leadership is a trait you can develop by using storytelling as a tool but in the end it’s about being able to share who you are with others and connect by listening back. The best storyteller is one who knows how to listen. Anita Verna Crofts, the professor of the course, represents that ideal teacher who is not only academically and professionally experienced, but who also cares for the whole growth of the people around her. Having this class changed my perspective on leadership, creation of communities and storytelling, but most importantly on myself.”

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COM 597: Content & Social Strategy for Maximum Business Impact (Schiller) - 2017 Fall

Track Neutral, 3 Credits
Saturdays, 10/14, 10/28, and Sunday 11/5, 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

Many experts think of social media and content strategy in big company terms: getting buy-in from management, developing a process, communicating among teams, defining metrics, etc. All very important, but in an over-saturated digital world how do you create the actual content? Not boring, me-too, formulaic content, but stories that people actually read, share and take action upon? Contrary to what many people think, great content is not built on luck or magic; it’s built using specific, repeatable techniques that you can learn and deploy to drive your business objectives. This class will teach you how to create unforgettable content, how to customize it for each social channel and how to ensure that your social and content strategy support each other for maximum business impact. Through a combination of case studies, readings and hands-on assignments, students will gain a solid understanding of how to create the kind of content that other marketers will wish was their own.

Student Testimonial:

I came into class with little to no formal training on content strategy. It was apparent from the get go that I would be learning multiple useful techniques on how to break down content and better improve said content based on the its ultimate goal. With her years of industry experience and scrappy attitude, Carol was a terrific asset to the class. Regardless of your individual pathway through the program, this is a great class for better understanding the online ecosystem that we all exist in.

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COM 597: Communication Through Culture: Ethnographic Approaches to Understanding and Motivating Organizations and Communities (Philipsen) - 2017 Fall

MCCN Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 10/3-12/5, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

Each organization and community has its unique “culture.” As technology has both enhanced and disrupted how we traditionally connect to each other, harnessing the culture within these specific social structures is an increasingly valuable strategy in the networked age. If we can discern the cultural foundation of an organization or community, we can interact with, and motivate its members more effectively and efficiently. In this course, you will learn how to determine the heart of a particular, localized culture of an organization (businesses, non-profits, civic entities) or community. Specifically, you will learn how to see the cultural values, rules, and symbols of a culture as vital resources for promoting successful collaboration within and across groups. This is a crucial undertaking for 21st century leaders who seek to inspire and transform through communication.

Student Testimonial:

“Communicating Through Culture was the most unexpectedly rewarding class I ever took. When the quarter began, I had no idea what to expect, and I was leery of the plentiful, heavily academic readings listed in the syllabus. I ended up enjoying the class so much I was sad when the quarter ended! Lisa took an arguably esoteric subject matter (the ethnography of communication) and not only did she help me to understand it, but she bridged the gap between academia and industry. I came out of the course with a newly positive attitude toward research and a keen interest in knowing more about how people communicate.”

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COM 597: Innovation Communities (Hill) - 2017 Fall

MCCN Elective
Thursdays, 9/28-12/7, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242

Course Description:

Can innovation be crowdsourced? Equipped with a range of new digital communication technologies, “users” innovate every day — creating solutions to their own problems through sharing and collaboration. Disruptive new models of collective innovation are emerging in forums, in “free” and “open source” efforts, and in hacking initiatives. Organizations increasingly want to tap into this community-driven DIY dynamic, but frequently struggle to structure their own innovation processes in relation to these unique communities. This class will explore some of the techniques that firms can use to harness this surge of innovation by introducing a new “democratized” or “user-centric” innovation paradigm. We’ll look at how user communities bolster their ability to innovate through specific technological tools and innovative social routines. Through practical examples, you will learn how to effectively use communities both as sources of inspiration and as collaborators.

Student Testimonial:

This class was the perfect combination of digital technology and community/network development. Each week we looked at a case study to analyze why an online community did or did not work and how outside forces influenced its success or demise. We explored hacker communities, maker communities, online gaming communities and more. Mako always led an engaging class discussion (which you could only get from an expert like he is in the field of online communities), his is lectures were informative and reflective of the reading material and he always made good use of class time. I appreciated that he made himself available online or during office hours, especially while we developed and dove into our final projects. Plus, he’s just a cool person to talk to. This class taught me about things I didn’t even know existed, and I am so glad that I took this course.

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COM 597: Communicating Ideas: Strategies and Theories of Communities and Networks (Yasin) - 2017 Fall

MCCN Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 9/27-12/6, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242

Course Description:

Thought leaders such as founders of organizations, researchers and journalists produce ideas that help shape critical conversations. This course examines how ideas produced by thought leaders and public intellectuals in different fields are structured, and what makes these ideas resonate–or not resonate–with audiences. What type of communication techniques these thought leaders develop that result in the impact of their ideas in public discussion? In doing so, the course hopes to train the students as thought leaders by introducing students to both practical and analytical skills necessary to become such a figure.  Throughout the quarter, each student, at least once, will facilitate a conversation in class about an idea produced by a key thought leader or public intellectual – designing an activity to engage crowds. Each student will also prepare a short public talk on a topic related to the class theme of communities and networks. In addition to preparing the talk, students will prepare written proposal for an article or a book based on their idea and will conduct research on the topic of their presentation.

This quarter we will survey key discussions about communities and networks. Today, both organizations and political actors are thinking deeply about the structure and value of contemporary communities and the power of online and offline networks both locally and globally. In order to determine key texts and ideas about this topic, I distributed a survey to key thought leaders, professionals and scholars in my own network soliciting their recommendations of recent discussions on this topic. The ideas we examine in class will be partly based on these recommendations and will include key books, popular and academic articles and talks on this subject by leading thought leaders and public scholars.

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COM 583: Advanced Narrative Multimedia Storytelling (Stonehill) - 2017 Fall

MCDM Elective
Thursdays, 9/28-12/7, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

From prehistoric cave paintings to Netflix binges, our innate attraction to stories defines us as a species. Yet as professional communication tools and techniques become more sophisticated, there’s a tendency to forget the fundamentals and lose sight of what makes storytelling such a persuasive tool.

This class will explore those fundamentals while practically tackling the relational challenges of storytelling: building trust with subjects and clients, telling the stories of others ethically, capturing authenticity without equipment getting in the way, and crafting a compelling narrative from sometimes messy real-life material. This coursework is designed to support students as they create high-value work in one of the most challenging but powerful modes of storytelling: human-driven documentary film. They’ll conceive of, research, shoot, edit, and create a distribution plan for a short, character-driven documentary on the subject of their choice, in partnership with a client. All the while, they’ll be considering deeply how story functions throughout our media and applying those lessons to their project.

This is an advanced course that will assume a basic knowledge of technical aspects of video production and editing, so a previous foundational MCDM storytelling class or equivalent technical experience is strongly recommended. Given that the emphasis of this course is on the interpersonal aspects of storytelling, that baseline technical familiarity will be vital to your success. While your technical skills will improve through the filmmaking process, this course is not a deep dive into the latest and greatest technology in filmmaking. It is a deep dive into the tried and true pillars of great storytelling. Contact instructor with any questions.

Student Testimonial:

“I can’t say enough good things about this class. [The instructors] are gifted educators and expert storytellers. As educators, I found them open and willing to engage many points of view with equal respect. That’s a rare talent. Their entry in the Seattle International Film Festival 2013 (Barzan) attests to the pedigree of their storytelling. They encouraged me to seek a challenging topic. In the few weeks we had in the class, they were mindful to remind the class to stay on pace. They grounded this advice in real-world experience. A big debt of thanks to Comm Lead for leveraging [the instructor’s] abilities and experience into a rewarding experience; the class was over all too quickly.”

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COM 597: The Future of Marketing: How Digital Media is Changing the Practice of Commercial and Consumer Engagement (Salkowitz) - 2017 Fall

MCDM Elective
Wednesdays, 9/27-12/13, 6:00-9:50pm, no class Oct. 4, instead class will be held December 13 | CMU 302

Course Description:

Rapid evolution of digital media and technology continues to disrupt the business of marketing, making it essential for professionals in the field to keep abreast of trends in a number of areas. This class focuses on the technologies shaping marketing, advertising, media, public relations and communications in the 2-4 year horizon and explores strategies of successful marketing organizations, both digital and traditional. We will examine the impact of social media, mobility, big data, new content and rich media distribution technologies, multi-platform storytelling, apps, and other digital innovation on audience engagement. We will study how consumers and audience expectations are changing, and how marketers must shift their models to accommodate new realities and expectations. Finally, we will look at changes to the structures and processes that marketing organizations – corporate, agency or otherwise – can adopt to become resilient in the face of rapid change. This class assumes a general familiarity with the practices of digital marketing and digital technologies. It is recommended for marketing, advertising and commercial communications professionals interested in developments at the cutting edge of the field. We will offer a survey of techniques and practices, including case studies, readings from contemporary practitioners and thought leaders, and expert guest speakers.

Student Testimonial:

“The first day of class, Rob Salkowitz tells you that there is no crystal ball to predict the future of marketing. However, it really does feel like we were able to divine the future. Based around a technique called scenario planning, as a class and as groups, we looked at the future of technology (from 3D printing to Internet of Things), content/content creation, and a whole host of other things as they would relate to marketing in the future and to make predictions. It was a great class for thinking about trends and their influences and ways that marketers can stay ahead of the curve based on the knowledge that we have in-hand today.”

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COM 560: Law, Data and Privacy: Legal and Privacy Issues with Data, the Cloud, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence (Baker) - 2017 Fall

MCDM Elective, Meets Law & Ethics Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 10/3-12/5, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

“Big Data”, “The Internet of Things”, “Behavioral Advertising”, “Analytics” — all buzzwords capturing the explosion of data and the promise of what we can do with data. Collecting, using, organizing, and sharing data and information also evokes legal issues and individual and collective uncertainty over who owns this data, what rights does one own, how does the data usage implicate privacy issues, how is and how should data use be regulated by the government, by private entities, for advertising, etc. This course will explore the legal issues associated with data usage, data collection, sharing of user information, and licensing. This course will pay particular attention to privacy laws in the United States, how the FTC and other regulators are approaching advertisers’ use of personal information, how organizations attempt to keep data secure, and how intellectual property rights protect (and don’t protect) data and databases. This course is designed both as a stand-alone course to satisfy the law and policy requirement of the program and as a companion to the law and policy course offered in the Spring, which focuses more on free expression and intellectual property issues around content.

Student Testimonial:

“This course was a fascinating overview of a quickly changing field. We touched on a variety of ethical and legal issues surrounding emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and big data. The course is exciting and engaging because many of these areas are so new that laws haven’t even been written, and it provided a great framework to view these topics through a legal lens. Although we charted lots of unfamiliar territory, Kraig Baker is an outstanding lecturer and makes the topics approachable and even fun. You don’t have to have a law background to glean interesting and useful information from this course, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in how nascent digital fields will be shaped by the law, and vice versa.”

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COM 597: Design + Content: An Introduction to UX and Content Strategy (Holmberg) - 2017 Fall

MCDM Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Mondays, 10/2-12/4, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

This course focuses on the fundamentals of both traditional user experience (UX) and content strategy, and seeks to build the overlapping skills and concepts needed to successfully design products and services for humans (otherwise known as the human-centered design process). Students will learn the foundations of both UX and content strategy, including user journeys and user research, content hierarchies, basic wireframing, principles of information architecture, basic prototyping and more, culminating in a creative strategy brief which encompasses both fields. The goal is to come away from the class with a holistic understanding of both UX and content strategy, and their relationship to one another.

Student Testimonial:

“From class activities to assignments to even the class slides, Dave crafts an optimal user experience for the student. He takes the time to provide useful, in-depth feedback on all assignments which enhances the learning experience considerably. The UX Content Strategy Playbook we created was an incredible way to learn the specifics of UX exercises we studied in class; I’m sure I’ll use it for years to come. The books Dave selected for class will serve as excellent resources down the road as well. This was definitely one of the best classes I’ve taken in the Comm Lead program.”

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