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) - 2018 Fall

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 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.”

[Course Description +]

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.

[Course Description +]

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 +]

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

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 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 +]

COMMLD 525: Brand Values and Creativity (Howard) - 2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective
Tuesdays, 1/7-3/10 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

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 +]

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.

[Course Description +]

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.

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Leadership Approaches to Diversity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2017 Summer

Track Neutral, 3 credits
Tuesdays, 6/20-8/15, excluding 7/4, 6:00-8:20pm | PCAR 297

Course Description: 

How leaders facilitate an inclusive work culture directly impacts the effectiveness of workplace diversity efforts. Changing workforce demographics and global collaborations create opportunities for greater effectiveness, resilience, and innovation. Without intentional leadership, however, these benefits can be lost. This course examines how common diversity paradigms profoundly shape how organizations approach internal diversity work and why these expectations matter. Students will learn to identify and communicate their own preferred leadership approaches to diversity and inclusion and will practice ways to collaborate with others who may hold very different expectations. In future, whether asked in a corporate job interview or by a journalist profiling a small start-up, students who have taken this class will be better equipped to field questions about these critical aspects of leadership in the 21st Century.

[Course Description +]

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

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 +]

COMMLD 524: Copywriting Fundamentals for Marketing (Schiller) - 2019 Autumn

Track Neutral Elective | 3 Credits
Saturdays 10/5, 10/19, 11/2 | 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 126

Course Description: 

This advanced marketing writing class is designed for students who can already write well, but want formal training in persuasive copywriting techniques – the kind that drive people to call, buy, join, or sign-­‐up. If you’ve ever agonized over finding just the right words to achieve your goals, this class is designed to get you there faster. It introduces some of the most effective and well-­‐tested methods used by professional storytellers to outsell and outrun the constantly changing market. Students will learn how to use techniques based in psychological research to get measurable lift in subject line open rates, landing page conversion rates, app store downloads, and more. Using a combination of readings, case studies and practical writing assignments students will learn the art and science of creating top-­‐performing marketing text.

Student Testimonial:

“This course was one of the most valuable classes I’ve taken while in the program. Carol ensured that the readings and assignments were directly applicable to our own careers and the ideas I brought back to my boss made me look great at work. I wondered if a full-day class about copywriting would be too long, but Carol’s lessons were lively and interesting, and I found that the day moved along very quickly. In short, I found this class to have tremendous value and I highly recommend it.”

[Course Description +]

COMMLD 520: Marketing Copywriting (Text-Based Marketing) (Schiller) - 2018 Fall

Track Neutral | 3 credits
Saturdays, 10/6, 10/20, 11/3 | 9:00am- 5:00pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 23688

Course Description: 

This advanced marketing writing class is designed for students who can already write well, but want formal training in persuasive copywriting techniques – the kind that drive people to call, buy, join, or sign-­‐up. If you’ve ever agonized over finding just the right words to achieve your goals, this class is designed to get you there faster. It introduces some of the most effective and well-­‐tested methods used by professional storytellers to outsell and outrun the constantly changing market. Students will learn how to use techniques based in psychological research to get measurable lift in subject line open rates, landing page conversion rates, app store downloads, and more. Using a combination of readings, case studies and practical writing assignments students will learn the art and science of creating top-­‐performing marketing text.

Student Testimonial:

“This course was one of the most valuable classes I’ve taken while in the program. Carol ensured that the readings and assignments were directly applicable to our own careers and the ideas I brought back to my boss made me look great at work. I wondered if a full-day class about copywriting would be too long, but Carol’s lessons were lively and interesting, and I found that the day moved along very quickly. In short, I found this class to have tremendous value and I highly recommend it.”

[Course Description +]

COM 597: Issues in Content Production: Structuring Legal and Business Deals in Creation, Production, and Distribution of Content (Baker) - 2018 Summer

Track Neutral, 3 credits
Thursdays, 6/21-8/16, 6:00-8:20pm I SAV 130
Registration SLN: 10851
(add code required to confirm prerequisites)

Course Description: 

This class will explore the various business and legal aspects involved in content production and creation, from acquiring and clearing rights in the content, creating the content consistent with legal obligations, and examining the upside and downside of various distribution methods.  The class will explore both production and distribution of audio, print, video, and interactive media formats.

The class will be evenly split between production issues and distribution issues.  In the first half of the class, we will discuss how to acquire rights to a story, “fair use”, when to use releases, production agreements, talent agreements, product integration, and financing vehicles.  In the second half of the class, we will examine distribution, including option agreements, the characteristics of various distribution and/or publishing arrangements, and how to best leverage your distribution to meet your overall goals.

Students taking this class should have completed COM 558 or COM 560. Prerequisites will be checked before an add code is given.

[Course Description +]

COM 597 Crisis Communication Strategies in a Digital World (Schwartz) - 2018 Winter

Track Neutral, Meets Law and Ethics Core Requirement
Wednesdays, Jan 3rd-March 8th, 6-9:50pm I CMU 126

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 +]