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.). Or view the latest version of our printed course guide here.

    Please view the University of Washington Academic Calendar for important dates, including quarter start and end dates, registration dates and deadlines, and campus holidays. Registration SLNs can be located on the Time Schedule.

COM 597: Leadership in the Digital Age: Establishing Authenticity through Story (Crofts)

MCDM Elective, 3 Credits
Saturdays (May 3, 17, and 31) 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 126

Former Tags: Spring 2014, MCDM, 3 Credits

Please Note: This class will not substantially differ from the Cohort 13 required core class “Leadership Through Story and Community: Creativity and the Digital Age” class, so this class is appropriate for Cohort 12 students or earlier.

Course Description:

Leadership skills are not just traits you are born with, but competencies you learn and refine throughout your life. Today, with office structures flattening and transparency at a premium, authentic leadership is critical for success in the digital age. Whether it is crowdsourced decision-making, the arrival of the Millennial Generation as customers and colleagues, or the wider reach of personal narrative in the age of new media, the challenges and opportunities that leaders face are evolving as quickly as the technologies themselves. In this course, we will consider how the rise of new media has amplified the teachings of traditional leadership development scholarship, called into question outdated models of engagement, and accelerated the need for genuine relationship building. As leadership development is a deeply personal pursuit, we will emphasize individual leadership development and theory, nested in the context of leading within an organizational structure. We will pay particular attention to the concept of storytelling, or life narrative, as a key leadership tool in the 21st century. Leaders at all levels and across all sectors will be able to apply teachings from this class to their work.

Student Testimonial:

“When I first read up on Leadership in the Digital Age, I had planned to take it as a sort of capstone to the end of my time with the MCDM. I figured by then, I’d fully be ready to learn about and embrace leadership. However, through last minute scheduling changes I ended up taking as part of my first quarter in the program, which ended up being the option I recommend! The term “leadership” I think can be a bit loaded, with the expectation that you are a manager of people or high-up in the organizational chain. I am neither of these. But through this course, I learned leadership really has nothing to do with that. The class is a very good combination of enlightening readings, discussion based class within a small group (you really get to know everyone by the end of the course!), and great guest lecturers from the community. I was surprised that the eight-hour weekend classes actually seemed to flow by very quickly, and Anita organizes your time during these days very well, so the classroom time is well spent. There is a lot of reading, writing and the final project that pushed me out of my comfort zone to interview local leaders I admired. The course is challenging, but in the best way – I learned a lot about leadership and even more about myself. Anita is a very nurturing presence and allows for a very safe space to explore your own belief system, and I left the course with a major boost to my self-confidence. I highly recommend that everyone take this course during their time in the MCDM, it should be a requirement!”

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COM 592 E: Table Talk: Deathoverdinner 2.0 (Hebb, Macklin)

MCDM Elective, 1-5 Credits
Wednesdays, 6:00-8:00pm, April 9, 23, May 14, 28 | Off Campus

Former Tags: Spring 2014, MCDM, 2 Credits, 3 Credits, 4 Credits

Course Description:

In Fall 2012, Communication Leadership Associate Director Scott Macklin and Community Fellow Michael Hebb and eight MCDM students held a Leader Communications design studio Independent Study to develop the concept www.deathoverdinner.org (DOD) with dozens of leaders in End of Life Care. In August 2013, DOD launched and has inspired over 10,000 individuals to gather family and loved ones and hold a structured and thoughtful conversation about life and death while breaking bread. DOD has received remarkable press (The New York Times, Bloomberg, USA Today, National Public Radio, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic) for its ingenuity and effectiveness as a digital platform. DOD has been credited with inspiring an international movement. Now Scott and Michael are going back into the studio with partners CIVILIZATION, The Huffington Post, Newport Academy (possibly ADAI/UW Health Sciences) to create a companion platform that could potentially reach 10x the audience of Deathoverdinner.org. -The topic: Drugs, Addiction, Rehabilitation, and Policy. The War on Drugs has been judged to be a colossal failure. We aim to set a model for how adults talk to their children and to one another about this critical issue. This Independent Study will put students directly onto the design team as we review the success and failures of DOD, begin designing and building Drugs over Dinner, and launch the platform with our partners.

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COM 597: Innovation Communities: How Business Can Harness the DIY Dynamic (Hill)

MCCN Elective
Tuesdays, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242

Former Tags: Spring 2014, MCCN

Course Description:

Can innovation be crowd-sourced? 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.

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COM 592: Marketing Policy and Engaging with Diverse Societies: Public Health, Culture, and Video-Based Communication (Edgerly)

MCCN Elective, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement, 1 Credit
Mondays, 6:00-7:50pm | CMU 321

Former Tags: Spring 2014, MCCN, 1 Credit, Research Methods

Note: Course only meets Research Methods Core Requirement if full 3-quarter sequence taken.

Course Description:

Spring quarter will continue the work of disseminating public health discussion videos created Autumn quarter, by actively recruiting focus group participants, continuing to develop a guided discussion protocol, and conducting focus group observations with
those participants that students recruit. Students should be prepared to spend time writing recruitment texts, finding locations to post them, talking with possible participants, and setting up and running focus group discussions with video screenings. This project requires time, and a willingness to reach out to the community, engage in discussion, and ask questions. Students will learn the basics of setting up and running a qualitative, community-focused research project, as well as how to do field observations, take notes, and analyze initial data.

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COM 569: Gaming, Virtual Worlds, and Communication (Rufo)

MCDM Elective
Thursdays, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242 & 244

Former Tags: Spring 2014, MCDM

Course Description:

No technology better defines the digital media experience than the video game. What was once the domain of the maladjusted introvert has become the dominant new media experience, with whole generations of console and PC gamers competing against other players online, crafting avatars and walking the halls of virtual worlds, playing, cheating, and building their “second lives.” This course will explore these virtual environments, mapping the communication that happens within and through this new medium. We will ground the class through a variety of game-playing, both in and outside of the classroom, and will do so in a way that works for “noobs” as well as hardcore gamers. Speakers will include those that live, breathe, and design video games right here in the Seattle area, one of the hubs for national and international video game production. Emphasis will be placed on determining strategies by which new video games may solve old communication problems.

Student Testimonial:

“I rediscovered an old passion in the MCDM’s course Gaming and Virtual Worlds. I rediscovered that I like to make learning fun. I consider fun and play fundamental qualities in a full life experience. Up until this class, the focus of my career and passion had been in the classroom and in the edit suite. My experience in Dr. Rufo’s class gave my lifelong passion new direction in analog games and the Kinect. I now apply the theories I learned in this class most everyday as I work as a Producer and PM for Microsoft in the IEB division and as I pursue personal projects to ensure learning stays fun for people of all ages. My new favorite VUI command is ‘Xbox! Get me a victory milk!’”

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COM 546: Communication Through Digital Media & Networks (Yasin) - 2018 Spring

Required Core Course for MCDM and MCCN
Thursdays, March 29th-May 31st, 6-9:50pm | PCAR 291
Registration SLN: 12404

Course Description: 

Communication through Digital Media and Networks: Organizational Storytelling and the Digital Age tackles how organizations across all sectors successfully craft their story and message it internally and externally. The course looks at various theories and case studies of organizational communication, which provide important context for how organizations map their values, identities and image to the story they convey to employees and the broader public. The course also asks students to apply these theories, create solutions and draft a plan concerning an actual organizational challenge for class clients that they are matched with in the class. In working with real clients, the class hopes to facilitate the pursuit of professional networks for students whilst also building strategic thinking and planning skills, which will be reflected in students’ in-class group projects. In addition to the group projects, students also write a case-study about the organization and the communicative challenge they face on their own to further develop students’ skills as forecasters and leaders in the field.

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COM 536: Leadership Through Story and Communities: Creativity and the Digital Age (Crofts) - 2016 Fall

Required Core Course for MCDM and MCCN
Saturdays, 9/24, 10/8, 10/22, 11/5, 11/19/16, 9:00am-5:00pm | Puget Sound Plaza 508/509

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. One’s personal narrative influences one’s leadership style, so using cross-sector profiles and guest speakers, we will carefully consider a range of leaders, personal narratives, communication styles, and how they connect meaningfully to customers, colleagues, and constituents. As part of the course, you will be exposed to communication theory and asked to map how your networks sustain and promote your professional and personal growth. In addition, you will have an opportunity to research and produce an original final project that reflects your personal and professional interests, ambitions, and curiosity within the field of communication.

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: Leadership Approaches to Diversity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2018 Summer

Track Neutral
Wednesdays, 6/20-8/15, (No class July 4th, makeup class Monday 7/9) 6:00-9:50pm | SAV 130
Registration SLN: 10850

Course Description: 

This course challenges and supports students to develop deeper self-awareness, hone stronger skills for learning across difference, and prepare themselves as organizational change-makers for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For better or worse, organizational change initiatives impact individuals, groups, organizations, and ultimately societies. Thus, courageous leaders throughout organizations must learn how to improve their relevant knowledge, skills, and awareness iteratively, in order to contribute effectively to genuine change-making. The course is designed to meet students where they are and coach them toward significant growth in self-awareness, skills, and understanding. Students learn collaboratively together in order to explore interconnections among the dimensions of our intersectional identities. Those who complete this course gain confidence in their ability to learn about uncomfortable topics and expand their understanding of the roles of individuals, groups, organizations, and societal structures in making real system change.

Student Testimonial:

This was THE BEST class! It was a complete eye-opener. We discussed some of the issues that are so prevalent in our daily lives but we choose to stay quiet and not discuss. Sarah pushes students to think deeper about our own behaviors towards self as well as others. Most of us found ourselves open up so much that by the end of the class, we were always longing for more discussions. The quarter went by too fast but did leave us with lot of learnings.

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COM 597: Thinking Story- Fundamentals of Storytelling for Organizations, Business, and Movements (Kessler) - 2018 Winter

Track Neutral
Tuesdays, Jan 9th-March 6th, 6-9:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

Thinking Story is a foundational class that focuses on the art and craft of nonfiction storytelling to communicate ideas and emotion, build relationships and community, promote change and inspire action. The class reflects the need in all sectors for superb storytelling. The class explores, investigates and discusses the elements of narrative — what makes a story a story – and looks at examples of nonfiction storytelling across media (text, sound, still image, moving image and multimedia combinations). This platform-agnostic, birds-eye view of story is about learning how to reframe/ reconceptualize “information” and “report” as story, how to locate the small story that illuminates the larger issue, and what it takes to produce such work. At its heart, the class is about learning how to conceptualize issues, topics, brands, and ideas as narratives. Students will learn to “think story,” to pinpoint, pitch and gather material for the production of original, compelling and persuasive content.

Student Testimonial:

“Storytelling is THE foundational skill every student must have a deep understanding of in order to succeed in the Comm. Lead program. Take this course if you want to learn how to craft a captivating story, if you want to be challenged, and if you want to improve as a writer, researcher, and interviewer. Thinking Story shows students how much thought is required to create an entertaining, purposeful, and persuasive story. The assigned reading, viewing, and listening materials are a combination of interesting examples of storytelling and long form nonfiction, intended to introduce students to the idea that humans are “wired for story.” Each assignment builds on the next, leading up to the final deliverable, a storyboard of the narrative you researched and developed all quarter. Professor Kessler asks her students to choose topics that are important and of interest to them. The work you will produce in Thinking Story feels more like a passion project rather than tasks you must complete. I recommend this class for all students in the program!”

[Course Description +]

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.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Intensive Video Storytelling: Conceptualizing, Shooting, and Editing (Keller) - 2017 Summer

Track Neutral, 3 Credits
Wednesday-Sunday, 7/12-7/16, 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 304 7/12-13, CMU 302 7/14-16

Course Description:

Media creation is a multi-step effort, with thoughtful decision-making involved throughout the process. How do the choices you make in the telling and delivery of your story affect the reception of your message? This course is aimed at expanding thought about how online media is affecting storytelling. Additionally, students will gain hands-on practice in producing online video stories. The skills-based aspect of this course is designed to familiarize students with the technologies associated with storytelling. Specifically how to refine, shoot, edit, and distribute their online video.

Student Testimonial:

“Five consecutive full days in the classroom may look intimidating, but not to worry, Drew Keller has a knack for effectively breaking up each eight-hour session. Drew takes students through a variety of exercises ranging from lecture and group discussions, to campus excursions to shoot footage, to hands-on video editing sessions. The first half of the course begins with the basics of storytelling through video. Drew makes sure each student has a firm grasp on film equipment use and vocabulary (light, sounds, camera, etc.). The second half is spent alone or in small teams shooting for and editing final projects which are screened the last day of class (Sunday afternoon). When I signed up for this course I cleared my schedule for the five days and devoted my entire attention to what I was learning. I decided to treat the course like a conference or even summer camp. Video editing is one of those tasks that always takes longer than you imagine, so be prepared to live and breathe your final project on days 3 through 5. But by the time you export your final video, you are quite amazed at what you were able to accomplish in such a short time span. Taking this course during the normal 10-week schedule probably allows for more internalization of the material and obviously additional time to learn shooting and video editing skills, however taking the 5-day deep dive proved to be extremely rewarding. This course is great for someone who doesn’t want to devote an entire 5 credits or quarter to video storytelling since it may not be the primary focus of their graduate school studies or career, but wants to get the higher level overview to be able to understand the process of creating a short online film from start to finish.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Thinking Story- Fundamentals of Storytelling for Organizations, Business, and Movements (Kessler) - 2017 Winter

Track Neutral Elective
Saturdays, 1/7, 1/21, 2/4, 2/18, 3/4, 9-5pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

Thinking Story is a foundational class that focuses on the art and craft of nonfiction storytelling to communicate ideas and emotion, build relationships and community, promote change and inspire action. The class reflects the need in all sectors for superb storytelling. The class explores, investigates and discusses the elements of narrative — what makes a story a story – and looks at examples of nonfiction storytelling across media (text, sound, still image, moving image and multimedia combinations). This platform-agnostic, birds-eye view of story is about learning how to reframe/ reconceptualize “information” and “report” as story, how to locate the small story that illuminates the larger issue, and what it takes to produce such work. At its heart, the class is about learning how to conceptualize issues, topics, brands, and ideas as narratives. Students will learn to “think story,” to pinpoint, pitch and gather material for the production of original, compelling and persuasive content.

[Course Description +]

COM 546: Communication Through Digital Media & Networks (Yasin) - 2017 Spring

Required Core Course for MCDM and MCCN
Tuesdays, 03/27/17-06/2/17, 6-9:50pm | PCAR 391

Course Description: 

Communication through Digital Media and Networks: Organizational Storytelling and the Digital Age tackles how organizations across all sectors successfully craft their story and message it internally and externally. The course looks at various theories and case studies of organizational communication, which provide important context for how organizations map their values, identities and image to the story they convey to employees and the broader public. The course also asks students to apply these theories, create solutions and draft a plan concerning an actual organizational challenge for class clients that they are matched with in the class. In working with real clients, the class hopes to facilitate the pursuit of professional networks for students whilst also building strategic thinking and planning skills, which will be reflected in students’ in-class group projects. In addition to the group projects, students also write a case-study about the organization and the communicative challenge they face on their own to further develop students’ skills as forecasters and leaders in the field.

[Course Description +]

COM 597 Crisis Communication Strategies in a Digital World (Schwartz) - 2017 Winter

Track Neutral I Meets Law and Ethics Requirement Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/3/17-3/10/17, 6-9:50pm I CMU 302

Course Description:

The 24-hour news cycle, social media, and online reporting fundamentally changed how institutional leaders, executives, celebrities, politicians, and organizations address crises big and small; internal and external; local, national, and international. Effectively managing a crisis means not just employing PR strategies, but developing a comprehensive communications plan that disseminates actionable content and engages all stakeholders with equal focus across multiple and diverse networks. This course will address how the tools of communication influence crisis communication strategies. In addition, it will identify the key issues that must be addressed during an organizational crisis (real or imagined) from a communications perspective. It will examine implementation strategies to engage traditional and social media; digital networks; federal, state and local lawmakers; external and internal stakeholders; and consumers or constituents. As important, it will deconstruct and reinforce the personal ethics and behavior required by professionals in a crisis situation. This class uses current events, interactive discussions, real-time exercises, and engaging guest lectures to provide practical insight about effective techniques and lessons learned.

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