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.

COMMLD 501: Leadership Through Story and Communities: Creativity and the Digital Age (Crofts) - Fall 2017-2018

Required Core Course for MCDM and MCCN
Saturdays, 9/29, 10/13, 10/27, 11/10, 12/1 | 9:00am-5:00pm | NAN 181
Registration SLN: 23665

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) - 2016-2017 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 546: Communication Through Digital Media & Networks (Yasin) - 2017-2018 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.

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Thinking Story- Fundamentals of Storytelling for Organizations, Business, and Movements (Kessler) - 2017-2018 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 597 Crisis Communication Strategies in a Digital World (Schwartz) - 2016-2017 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.

[Course Description +]

COM 536: Leadership Through Story and Communities: Creativity and the Digital Age (Crofts) - Fall 2015-2016

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.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 520: Brand Values and Creativity in Marketing Communications (Howard) - 2018-2019 Summer

Track Neutral
Mondays, 6/24-8/19 | 6:00-9:50pm | DEN 113
Registration SLN: 10906

Course Description:

This course will take a close up look at corporate brand values in marketing communications today. Brand values should be timeless and unchanging, but in a constantly fluctuating business environment, is this goal even possible? While high volume video advertising and A/B testing is exploding, paradoxically, messaging of corporate brand values is oftentimes minimized. Marketing today is comprised of ever-changing algorithms, transactional communications, and confusing narratives.Should creativity play a bigger role in storytelling in today’s marketplace? Do customers even know what the companies they make purchases from actually stand for values-wise? Does it matter? How can companies still connect emotionally with consumers? Students will conceive of, research, shoot, edit, and create a marketing film for a company of their choice. All the while, they’ll be considering deeply how emotion, story, and marketing message function in a project that resonates with the consumer while also reinforcing a company’s belief system.

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 501: Leadership Through Story and Communities (Chang, Crofts) - Autumn 2018-2019

Required Core Course for MCDM and MCCN
Lecture: Saturdays, 9/28, 10/12, 10/26, 11/9, 12:00-1:50pm, SAV 260, and 11/23, 9:00-4:50pm, MGH 241
Sections: (By Assignment) Thursdays, 9/26, 10/10, 10/24, 11/7, 10:00-11:50am or 2:00-3:50pm, CMU 126
or Saturdays, 9/28, 10/12, 10/26, 11/9, 9:30-11:20am, SAV 162 or SAV 168, or 2:30-4:20pm, SAV 168

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 the Declaration of Communication Leadership. In this digital age when the technology of communication is so pervasive and accessible for many, leadership and story go hand in hand to produce strong community engagement in the service a more equitable and just world. One’s personal history and cultural context influence one’s 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 produce a portfolio with a section for each of the seven tenets of the declaration: storytelling, technology, values, responsibility, community, advocacy, and leadership. Credit/no-credit only.

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 541: Crisis Communication (Schwartz) - 2018-2019 Summer

Track Neutral | Meets Law and Ethics Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 6/25-8/20 | 6:00-9:50pm | DEN 213
Registration SLN: 14498

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.

Student Testimonial: 

“This course is one of my favorites and Melissa is infectious. The variety of crisis cases that we looked at, presented each week and the readings that were required to be read were mind boggling. Not only did the course teach how to handle crisis, but also taught how to improve presentation skills, public speaking skills and more than anything, how to prevent crisis especially on social media when you have the option of preventing. Overall an amazing program and I have already recommended it to a lot of my classmates who started in Fall.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 510: Decision Science and Content Strategy (Kabiri) - 2019-2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective
Thursdays, 1/9-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 232

Course Description:

This course introduces students to content strategy through the lens of Decision Science. Successful content requires solid decision-making by the professionals who create it. But it also relies on a firm understanding of audience decision-making, so that communications can effectively sway audience decisions. This course will explore the audience half of this equation. Students will be introduced to behavioral and social science principles that apply to decision-making, including heuristics, game theoretic models, network effects, institutional constraints, and cultural and social norms. The course will also include a market research component, to teach students how to uncover drivers of decision-making among their target audience. Finally, the course will pull it all together, guiding students as they apply these learnings in the creation of a content strategy proposal.

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 501: Leadership and Communities (Crofts) - 2020-2021 Winter

Track Neutral | Core Requirement | 2 Credits
Mondays 01/04-03/08, 6:00pm – 7:50pm | Online

Course Description:

This foundational class considers leadership development through the two lenses of story and community. Sustained community engagement in the service of a more equitable and just world requires strong leadership models. Personal history and cultural context influence leadership styles, so using cross-sector profiles and guest speakers, we will carefully consider a range of leaders, their life stories, communication styles, and how they connect meaningfully to customers, colleagues, and constituents. Credit/No Credit only.

[Course Description +]

COM 536: Leadership Through Story and Communities: Creativity and the Digital Age (Crofts) - Fall 2016-2017

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: Content & Social Strategy for Maximum Business Impact (Schiller) - Fall 2016-2017

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.

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Digital Transformations of Organizations (Agarwal and Foot) - Fall 2015-2016

Track Neutral, Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 9/28/16-12/7/16, 6:00-8:50pm** | CMU 302

**Please note that this class meets only 3 hours a week, but is a 5-credit course. The professors have designed the course to require weekly observations that serve as an equivalent to an hour of class time. The course has a prerequisite: a Memo of Understanding signed by the student and his/her organizational liaison is required to receive an add code for registration in the course. Please read the full course description below for more details.

Course Description:

Watch a video introduction to the course from Dr. Kirsten Foot.

The process of transforming organizations– whether for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, or government agencies– is often complex, even more so when digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) are involved. There are many reasons why technology adoption fails, why people resist the introduction of new tools, and why these tools have unintended consequences and effects. Managing technology change within organizations or being a “change agent” is rewarding yet extremely challenging work. This course prepares students to take on such roles. Using a case study approach, students in this class will learn how to identify potential roadblocks to change and develop analytical lenses for assessing digitally-mediated changes in organizations. Together we will examine several aspects of such changes including innovation cycles, change leadership, technology breakdowns, resistance to ICTs and/or organizational change, and collaboration.

During the second half of autumn quarter, this course will synch up with a “sister course” for professionally-oriented graduate students enrolled in a Communication masters degree program at Shenzhen University, located in China’s leading tech-industry city. We will experiment with real-time discussions between the two classrooms via video conferencing, and students in both locations will exchange some of their fieldwork observations and insights in English (and Mandarin, if desired) in order to develop cross-cultural and international understandings of ICT-mediated organizational change processes.

This course involves weekly assignments based on students’ fieldwork in a local organization, along with reading academic journal articles, organizational reports, case studies, and other types of documents, and writing weekly reports and other analyses. At the end of this course students will be able to identify key strategies for assessing and managing ICT-related organizational change, and analyze change processes in ways that support organizational development.

In order to obtain an add code to register for this course, students will first need to identify a local organization in which they can conduct fieldwork on a weekly basis during the course. The organization should be at least 5 years old, have at least 10 staff, and have undergone– or be undergoing– ICT-related change processes (tips for finding such an organization here). Each week the student will spend an hour at the organization’s headquarters, to interview a staff member and observe staff working with ICTs. The organization can be in any sector, and a UW department or office that meets the criteria above would be fine. Students should consider their schedules, organizations’ business hours, and transportation logistics when selecting an organization. Each student will print and sign this memo of understanding of the fieldwork for this course, and ask a staff member from the organization to confirm his/her consent by signing it. Heather Werckle will provide add codes upon receipt of MOUs signed by both a student and a staff member of an organization that meets the stated criteria.

Course Prerequisites:

  • Basic word processing, Excel, and Power Point skills, and the ability to access Canvas regularly
  • Access to and understanding of how to use Canvas
  • Ability to spend an hour each week during the 10 weeks of the course at the headquarters of a Seattle-based organization that has the characteristics described above
  • A Memo of Understanding signed by the student and his/her organizational liaison is required to receive an add code for registration in the course
[Course Description +]