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.

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COMMLD 510: Decision Science and Content Strategy (Kabiri) - 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.

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COMMLD 524: Copywriting Fundamentals for Marketing (Schiller) - 2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective | 3 Credits
Sundays 1/12, 1/26, 2/9 | 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.”

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COMMLD 560: Individualized Research (Philipsen) - 2020 Spring Winter 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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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.

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COMMLD 535: Foundations of Audio Storytelling (Partnow) - 2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective
Thursdays, 1/9-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

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) - 2020 Winter

Track Neutral Elective
Saturdays, 1/11, 1/25, 2/8, 2/22, 3/7, 9:00am-5:00pm | 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!”

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

Track Neutral Elective | 2 credits
First Session Monday 1/6; Tuesdays, 1/14-3/10 | 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 514: Product Content Strategy (Schwieterman) - 2020 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/8 – 3/18 | 6:00 – 9:50pm | CMU 232
*Will not meet 2/5, last class session 3/18

Course Description:

The goal of this course is to provide a strong foundational knowledge of product content strategy as a function within a user experience design team. Skill areas include responsive content strategy, inclusive design, content auditing, performance auditing and more. Specific focus is also given to understanding the perspectives of partner roles, building skills around collaborating and communicating with each role type. You should walk away ready to join a real team and get to work. You will also gain real work examples by working with brands from around the region.

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COMMLD 517: The Psychology of User Experience (Evans) - 2020 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement
Tuesdays, 1/7-3/10 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 232

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 550: Ethical Questions of Big Data (Lohmann) - 2020 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Law & Ethics Requirement
Wednesdays 1/8-3/11 | 6:00pm-9:50pm | CMU 242

Course Description:

This course provides an overview on the new regulations and conversations around secure data, intellectual property, and the challenge of data privacy. It also examines the benefits of some uses of anonymous big data for research and health innovation and cures. 

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COMMLD 580: Communication for Emerging Technologies (Bellinger) - 2020 Winter

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement
Thursdays, 1/9-3/12 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 242

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 543: Leadership Approaches to Equity Initiatives in Organizations (Ross) - 2020 Winter

MCCN Elective
Tuesdays, 1/7-3/10 | 6:00-9:50pm | TBD

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: Communication and the Environment (Russell) - 2020 Winter

MCCN Elective | Meets Law & Ethics Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/8-3/11 | 6:00-9:50pm | CMU 302

Course Description:

Over the past 30 years since climate change became widely acknowledged, there has been much investigation and speculation as to why forces of climate denialism remain so strong and, more broadly, why we are failing to do more to respond to anthropogenic climate change. This course uses climate change as a critical lens to examine the forces shaping the contemporary information landscape, with a focus on efforts by various groups including NGOs, politicians, industry leaders, scientists, journalists, among others to shape environmental discourse and policy. 

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COMMLD 561: Qualitative Research in Communities and Organizations (Coutu) - 2020 Winter

MCCN Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement
Wednesdays, 1/8-3/11 | 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.”

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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