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: 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
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COM 597: Audio Storytelling: Education, Engagement, and Entertainment (Crofts) - 2017 Spring

Track Neutral, 3 Credits
Wednesday, 3/27/17-6/2/17, 6-8:30pm | CMU 242

Course Description:

Whether gathered around a radio in a living room or walking plugged in with headphones, the medium of audio storytelling has always offered the opportunity to build mindset-shifting community around content. This course traces the evolution of audio storytelling from radio to podcasting that links to communities for various purposes: to educate, to entertain, and to inspire action. Consideration is given to the core characteristics of strong storytelling, observed through an auditory filter. Class materials are twinned with a selection of cross-sector guest speakers who bring their own craft perspective. Students will experiment with designing their own short audio pieces.

Student Testimonial:

“Three words are all it should take to convince any CommLeader that this course is awesome: Anita. Verna. Crofts. As we all observed, first hand, in her core class, Anita is one of those professors who not only excels at teaching course material, but also models effective communication, leadership, and community building techniques at all times. You learn a ton just by being around her, and she’s been known to bring amazing desserts to class as well.

In addition to the “AVC Factor”, this class will help you beef up your skills as a storyteller, interviewer, writer, and editor, especially when it comes to content that is meant to be engaged with auditorily. The course materials, which include a number of great podcast episodes, radio stories, and relevant readings, help provide solid examples of how audio stories can be used to educate, inspire, and entertain. There were also several guest speakers who shared insights both on the “how to’s” of audio storytelling and ways in which it can be used as a community building tool as well. Lastly there were several opportunities for rich class discussion and peer-review time which I always appreciate since we are surrounded by such a talented community here in CommLead.”

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COMMLD 573: Listening and Leadership (Crofts) - 2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective | 2 credits
Wednesdays, 1/8-3/11 | 6:00-7:50pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

This course considers listening skills as a key leadership attribute when it comes to effective communication. The behaviors of a good listener are considered through a range of texts related to leadership, but with additional emphasis on audio programs showcasing the interview format where an interviewer’s ability to listen closely and empathically solicits strong connection and memorable storytelling. Foundations in Audio Story is the production course geared toward audiophiles at Comm Lead, whereas Listening and Leadership is for all Comm Lead students who are keen to hone their ability to listen as a critical career skill.

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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.”

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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.

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COMMLD 570: Listening and Leadership (Crofts) - 2019 Spring

Track Neutral | 2 credits
Wednesdays, 4/3/19-6/5/19 | 6:00-7:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12435

Course Description:

This course considers listening skills as a key leadership attribute when it comes to effective communication. The behaviors of a good listener are considered through a range of texts related to leadership, but with additional emphasis on audio programs showcasing the interview format where an interviewer’s ability to listen closely and empathically solicits strong connection and memorable storytelling. Foundations in Audio Story is the production course geared toward audiophiles at Comm Lead, whereas Listening and Leadership is for all Comm Lead students who are keen to hone their ability to listen as a critical career skill.

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COM 597: Leadership Approaches to Diversity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2018 Winter

Track Neutral
Wednesdays, Jan 3rd-March 7th, 6:00-9:50pm | 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.

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: Crisis Communication Strategies in a Digital World (Schwartz) - 2017 Summer

Track Neutral, Meets Law & Ethics Requirement
Mondays, 6/26-8/14, 6:00-9:50pm | MGH 074
Please note this class will begin the second week of the quarter on June 26 and will add a class on Tuesday, June 27, 6:00-9:50pm in 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.

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

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

Course Description:

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

Student Testimonial:

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

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COM 597: Communication for Advocacy (Tausch Lapora) - 2018 Winter

Track Neutral, Meets Law & Ethics Core Requirement
Thursdays, Jan 4th-March 8th, 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

Today’s leaders are confronted with an increasingly rich landscape of possibilities to spark and create change. Parallel to this challenge, decision-makers and influential bodies are bombarded with waves of messaging. This course will introduce you to communication techniques for advocacy. Our approach in this class will be focused on”integrated advocacy,” which is a strategy of communicating through multiple channels one’s advocacy efforts – like the marriage equality movement, net neutrality efforts by Google, Facebook and Netflix, and the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. You will develop part of an integrated advocacy campaign working for a client in this class. Real-life challenges and advocacy needs of our clients will allow us to use integrated advocacy model in an applied sense. We will build stories around goals and solutions. We will come up with advocacy tactics and create an advocacy campaign that will ignite change. This is a hands-on course. The course will help you develop immersive storytelling skills, and practice community organizing. You will learn persuasive communication and engagement methods, and how to pack a punch with a campaign aimed at making change. Guest speakers and mentors with experience spearheading campaigns will serve as guides throughout the quarter. The course will culminate with a short advocacy pitch session.

Student Testimonial: 

“I enrolled in Brenda Tausch-Lapora’s Integrated Advocacy class feeling like I had a ton of skills but without a clear purpose for applying them to make change. I knew I wanted to do something that matters. This class gave me a practical and actionable framework for translating my skills into doing good things in this world. Your typical marketing campaign usually follow the rules of what has worked in the past, what sells, and who’s the first to do it. By contrast, integrated advocacy challenges you to figure out the core of the message you’re trying to share and the vision for what you want to change. You have to build a consciousness of action which involves a lot of components such as content strategy, policy change, partnership building, and a drive to make the change worthwhile for the communities involved. Integrated advocacy allows you to challenge conventions and question the nature of the message you’re are trying to put out there. Bottom line: you’re asking your community to believe it. Brenda’s class pushed me to create a project utilizing VR to change the perception of Fire Services in Washington State—a project which is gaining traction and may turn into a national model for EMS public outreach campaigns.”

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COM 597: Content & Social Strategy for Maximum Business Impact (Schiller) - 2016 Fall

Track Neutral, 3 Credits
Saturdays, 10/1, 10/15, 10/29/16, 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 126

Course Description:

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

Student Testimonial:

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

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COM 597: Distributed and Diverse Teams: Leading and Communicating with Impact (Chang) - 2018 Winter

Track Neutral
Saturdays Jan 6, 13, Feb 3, 10, and March 3 I 9-5pm I CMU 126 (CMU 302 on March 3)

Course Description:

Through this practical and applied course, students will build their leadership and communication effectiveness to work in distributed teams at the global, national or local levels. With increasing inter-connectedness that builds larger and more complex teams and also reduces face/face time of those teams, competencies in distributed leadership are a rapidly evolving must-have set in any professional context but especially in ther field of communications. And yet opportunities to sharpen those nuanced skills remain less than optimal. Enrolled students will embark on a full-immersion experience by working in distributed teams using a combination of relevant practical materials and readings, ongoing team and individual assignments, personal self-reflection and improved self-awareness and the planning and execution of a class-wise exercise such as a strategy retreat or Hackathon. Topics covered will include project planning, goal setting, managing through direct and indirect influence and communicating with impact over the e-highways. Distributed team technology will anchor the students together as they move through coursework that will help them to stretch, struggle and succeed. By the end of the course, students will be able to not only recognize their progression but will also be able to more effectively articulate the related competencies using terminology and language relevant for professional pursuits.

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COM 597: Intensive Video Storytelling: Conceptualizing, Shooting, and Editing (Keller) - 2018 Summer

Track Neutral, 3 Credits
Wednesday-Sunday, 7/25-7/29, 9:00am-5:00pm | SAV 130
Registration SLN: 10853

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.”

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COMMLD 560: Individualized Research (Philipsen) - 2019 Autumn

Track Neutral Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Meetings to be arranged between enrolled students and instructor
(application and add code required)

Course Description:

This course is designed for students who want to explore an area and develop a research project of their own. Students work individually in this class with the instructor, Dr. Gerry Philipsen, to develop a negotiated plan of work, involving the reading of important scholarly works in the area of study and the development of an individual creative project designed to enhance the student’s intellectual and practical development. The topics to choose from with Dr. Gerry Philipsen as the instructor/advisor are: Communication that enhances effectiveness in workplace teams, personal negotiation strategies and conflict management in the workplace, and beyond, and cultural and intergroup communication.

Submit your application for this class here: https://forms.gle/Ft4nsCc2c2AMXwVMA.

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