Typical course offerings at the undergraduate level:
COMM398E: Health Communication
This course introduces students to theory and research on health communication, with a particular focus on health message design and media health campaigns. This course covers important topics on health message design such as fear appeals, message framing, use of statistical vs. narrative messages, norm-based messages, and developing religiosity- and sensation-seeking-based messages. It also examines influential health behavior change theories, including the theory of reasoned action, the theory of planned behavior, the health belief model, and the transtheoretical model, all of which provide theoretical guidance on developing effective health messages. Through this course, students will also work in groups to develop a comprehensive media campaign plan for a non-profit health organization to address an urgent health problem locally or nationally. This course emphasizes theoretical understanding of class materials as well as hands-on skills, and students are expected to demonstrate ability to work independently and collaboratively with others.
This course offers a general introduction to persuasion theory and research. It examines persuasive communication as it occurs in social, political, health/risk, and commercial contexts. This course introduces students to the abundant literature on persuasion with topics including influential persuasion theories (e.g., theory of reasoned action, dual-process models), the role of source, message, and recipient factors in persuasive communication, persuasive effects of specific forms of communication (e.g., sequential requests, emotional appeals, images, subliminal messages, narratives, product placement), and theory and practice surrounding persuasive campaigns.
Typical course offerings at the graduate level:
COMM730: Health Communication
COMM 730 offers a general introduction to theory and research in the exciting field of health communication. A unifying theme of this course is the examination of the key role of health information in health promotion and health care delivery. In particular, we will focus on how to effectively communicate health risk information to the public to promote behavior change and informed decision making. We will read and discuss a wide selection of theoretical and empirical articles written by leading scholars in the field. We will examine theories, as much as we look into the rich, substantive contexts of health-related communication challenges. As a graduate seminar, this course puts strong emphasis on critical thinking and ability to conduct original research. The hope is that upon completion of this course, students will have developed an intimate understanding of the dynamics of health communication inquiry. More importantly, upon completion of this course each student is expected to become an expert in a specific topic related to health communication, no matter how small that topic might be.
COMM738E: Media Effects
In this graduate seminar, we will examine theory and research concerning the impact of traditional and emerging media on individuals and society at large. More specifically, we will study the effects of media content and media usage on perceptions of social reality, public opinions, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as the psychological processes that underlie these effects. We will survey a broad range of theories and perspectives as developed to understand media effects, focusing on diverse topics such as agenda setting, framing, cultivation, the third-person effect, the influence of presumed influence model, the hostile media effect, advertising effects, entertainment media effects, news media effects, and new media effects. We will examine media effects in important health, risk, science, political, and social contexts. Our emphasis will always be on the search for explanation, rather than just description. Through this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of media effects. Upon completion of this course, students should expect to be able to engage in their own media effects research with the necessary knowledge and analytical skills.
COMM775: Persuasion and Attitude Change
The study of persuasion and attitude change has always been a central area of inquiry in the field of communication as well as the broader field of social psychology. This course has been designed to review and critically examine both traditional and current theory and research on the psychology of persuasion and attitude change. The first part of the course will cover theory and research related to attitudes and attitude change, including the affective, motivational, and experiential bases of attitudes, attitude strength and implicit vs. explicit attitudes, and resistance in attitude change. The second part of the course will focus on theory and research related to persuasion processes (e.g., dual process models, impact of source, recipient, and context factors on persuasion), with an emphasis on understanding the conditions under which people are susceptible and resistant to persuasion.
COMM777: Persuasive Message Design
This course is all about how to design communication messages to achieve maximum persuasive impact. It is not a generic course in persuasion; rather, we deal with the specific challenge of developing persuasive messages. We will learn, for instances, when it is appropriate to use a narrative vs. statistical message and when it is best to use a loss-framed vs. gain-framed message. In the first a few weeks, we will survey classic and contemporary social scientific theories that lay the foundation for the extensive research on persuasive communication. Each week after that, we will discuss a unique challenge in persuasive message design with the help of a handful of readings. Throughout this course, we will be examining persuasive communication issues in cross-cutting social, political, cultural, health, and/or economic contexts. Our emphasis will always be on the search for explanation, rather than just description. Through this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the principles of persuasive communication and the theoretical reasoning underlying these principles. Upon completion of this course, students should expect to be equipped with the knowledge and analytical skills for engaging in original research on persuasive communication.