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.

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COMMLD 541: Crisis Communication (Schwartz) - 2019 Winter

Track Neutral | Meets Law and Ethics Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/9-3/13 | 6:00-9:50pm | MGH 295
Registration SLN: 22054

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.”

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COMMLD 560: Individualized Research (Philipsen) - 2019 Winter

Track Neutral | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Meetings to be arranged between enrolled students and instructor
Registration SLN: 22056 (application and add code required)

Course Description: 

This class 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. During the quarter the student meets at least three times with the instructor (at a time of their choosing) for one on one meetings. The terms of evaluation are set out in the individually-negotiated plan of work. This is a highly individualized, and highly structured learning experience. 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
  • Cultural and intergroup communication

Dr. Gerry Philipsen is a pioneer in communication research. He is the originator of speech code theory. He is also the recipient of University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award and University of Washington Award for Distinguished Faculty Contribution to Lifelong Learning. He is the former Chair of the Faculty Senate, Secretary of the Faculty, and former Department Chair at Communication Department at UW. He has spoken at over 100 universities and colleges, world-wide and also served as consultant for National Science Foundation and United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

To apply for this individualized research opportunity, please complete the Google Form here.

 

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COMMLD 535: Foundations of Audio Storytelling (Partnow) - 2019 Winter

Track Neutral
Wednesdays, 1/9-3/13 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 22052

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 — and the new golden age of podcasting that we find ourselves in means that audio storytelling has the potential for broad reach and powerful impact. 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.

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COMMLD 537: Principles of Storytelling for Organizations, Business, and Movements (Kessler) - 2019 Winter

Track Neutral
Saturdays, 1/12, 1/19, 2/2, 2/16, 3/2 | 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 22049

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!”

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

Track Neutral
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 22050

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.

 

 

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COMMLD 520: Marketing Copywriting (Text-Based Marketing) (Schiller) - 2019 Winter

Track Neutral | 3 Credits
Saturdays, 1/12, 1/26, 2/9 | 9:00am-5:00pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 22048

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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COMMLD 510: Aligning UX Design With User Psychology (Evans) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | SOCC 303
Registration SLN: 12624

Course Description: 

Designers, product marketers, and entrepreneurs will learn the psychological constrictions of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation, and social influence that determine whether or not customers will be receptive to their digital innovations. This will give their innovations an edge on what are increasingly competitive platforms such as apps, bots, in-car apps, augmented reality content). Students will learn…

  • The psychological processes determining users’ perception of, engagement with, and recommendation of digital innovations
  • Examples of interfaces before and after simple psychological alignments that vastly enhanced their effectiveness
  • How to identify, apply theory, and develop consulting or research recommendations based on psychological theory
  • Application to their own business interests. A deeper understanding of common digital interfaces such as conversion funnels, display advertisements, and mobile notifications.
  • A broader understanding of the human context of digital ventures, and the ethical differences between alignment and meeting needs vs. exploitation and unsustainable design approaches

Student Testimonial: 

“This course explores the fascinating relationship between UX design and human psychology. In his lessons, Professor David Evans describes the psychological constraints of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation, and social influence, and uses real-world examples to provide a deeper understanding of their role in user design. Students are assigned weekly assignments where they apply one of the psychological processes to an example of their choice. Additionally, this class includes an in-depth ethics discussion centered on human behavioral traits and whether UX designers meet user needs or exploit them. As a final deliverable, students write an ethics paper based on the discussions. As a whole, Aligning UX Design with User Psychology is beneficial beyond the classroom because David’s enjoyable teaching style ingrains the lessons in his students. At the very least, this class will draw awareness to your own behavioral traits and help identify when they are manipulated.”

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COMMLD 510: User Research & UX Strategies (Levine) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/9-3/13 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 22053

Course Description:

This course focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of user interfaces from a usability perspective. The aim of the course is to study the concepts, methods, and techniques of usability engineering, with a focus on the artifacts where user experience is essential. Historically, usability has covered aspects of efficiency, learnability, and ease of use. Today, a large number of other measures for success rely on elements such as playability, engagement, entertainment, immersion, and aesthetics.

Several concepts will be detailed with the expectation that by the end of the quarter, students will recognize the aspects of each of the following deliverables within Interface Design and User Research. At the completion of this course, students will have portfolio-ready, end-to-end work examples to demonstrate they can:

  • Understand basic principles of user interface design, implementation, and evaluation
  • Design and conduct usability studies
  • Select an appropriate evaluation method and articulating its advantages and disadvantages
  • Establish useful test objectives
  • Prepare reports and presenting results
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COMMLD 580: Communication for Emergent Technologies (Bellinger) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement
Thursdays, 1/10-3/14 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 22058

Course Description:

This course is about dealing with the uncertainty of emerging technologies. While the course will not, unfortunately, provide students with a crystal ball capable of predicting all future impacts of a new technology, we will develop a set of questions and conceptual tools that will enable students to critically assess technologies in early periods of development and adoption, and we will explore strategies that students can use to help their organizations better plan for and adapt to technological change. Part of this will involve critically examining the narratives used to explain new technologies and their development: We will examine the theoretical assumptions underlying accounts of technological change, the limitations and liabilities of different theoretical perspectives, and the ways that these assumptions become integrated into expert commentary on new technologies. We will also, as a class, collaboratively develop a “toolbox” of key questions to ask about emerging technologies, precisely to aid in identifying the aspects of technological change that can be overlooked. And finally, we will review practical models for organizational strategy in the face of uncertain technological developments.

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COMMLD 532: Advanced Video Storytelling (Chan) - 2019 Winter

MCDM Elective
Thursdays, 1/10-3/14 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 22051

Course Description: 

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

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

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

Student Testimonial:

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

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COMMLD 543: Leadership Approaches to Equity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2019 Winter

MCCN Elective
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 22055

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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COMMLD 560: Qualitative Research in Communities and Organizations (Coutu) - 2019 Winter

MCCN Elective | Meets Research Methods Core Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/9-3/13 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 12631

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.”

 

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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COMMLD 562: Communication for Advocacy (Parikh) - 2019 Winter

MCCN Elective | Meets Law & Ethics Core Requirement
Thursdays, 1/10-3/14 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 22057

Course Description:

This course is focused on”integrated advocacy,” which is a strategy of communicating one’s advocacy efforts through multiple channels – 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.

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COMMLD 510: Content Marketing and Strategy for Communities (Weaver) - 2019 Winter

MCCN Elective
Tuesdays, 1/8-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 22047

Course Description:

This course focuses on the approach and implementation of marketing programs that encourage community building and engagement. The course starts with how to build a content strategy that supports the organization and its audiences as a foundation for content marketing. Building from strategy, we’ll explore best practices and tactics to create impactful campaigns and adaptable content for a variety of channels and platforms. Class work focuses on building brand storytelling, effective messaging, and models for optimizing and measuring digital marketing.

 

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