Communication and Social Activism Courses

In order to tackle socio-political and economic issues through communication, students will take courses that cover topics such as media engagement, narrative persuasion, social protest, intersectionality, public policy, advocacy and conflict intervention. 

Urban Organizing

This course teaches students how to mobilize community members into political forces for social change. Students learn how to assess social and political problems, communicate with target populations and devise plans of action. The course focuses on urban contexts and concerns.

Intercultural and Cross-Cultural Conflict

This course provides a communication perspective on the nature of intercultural conflict theory, research and practice. In the increasingly global society, communication and social influence requires cultural sensitivity and an awareness of how cultural difference triggers conflict and requires sophisticated conflict intervention. This course reviews theories of culture and conflict, and proposes models of conflict intervention that have proven successful in addressing that conflict.


Students prepare speeches for their own presentation and ghost write speeches for others. Emphasis is on audience analysis, speech construction, style, persuasion and manuscript preparation. Students will also study of practices of prominent speechwriters and their speeches, as well as great speeches in American history.

Resistance, Protests and Movements

This class focuses on the communicative dimensions of social movement activity with a focus on the persuasive strategies employed by participants to achieve change and justice. At the heart of change in society are social protest movements; it is here that ideas are shaped, voiced, and possibly believed, followed and refuted. This course aims to explore the many facets that surround protest and resistance - both from the participants and their opposition. More specifically, we will define the social movement, explain its development and look at the specific strategies that movements generally employ. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with several specific social movements and have a better understanding of the communicative construction of social protest.

Narrative Persuasion

Storytelling has historically been used to convey culturally, politically, and socially relevant information. Narratively structured messages offer persuasion and social influence communicators a unique way to deliver information to diverse audiences. From Hollywood films to online advocacy videos, narratives are used as vehicles for developing persuasive messages through mass, entertainment, social and emerging media. This course offers students an opportunity to study how narratively structured messages are developed, as well as when and why they are persuasive. Topics will cover various theories and uses of narrative persuasion and media engagement, ranging from entertainment education to political docudramas. The theories and concepts will be used to analyze examples of health, science and social campaigns that have used this strategy, in comparison with more traditional persuasive campaigns.

Communication, Culture and Identity

This course explores how identities, individual and collective, are constructed, maintained and transformed. From rhetorical and sociological perspectives, this class highlights the fundamental role of intersectionality (i.e., the connections between gender, sexual orientation, class, race, ethnicity and bodily difference when shaping who is who and what is what) in the construction of personal and social identities. In this class, students will learn not only theoretical issues such as similarity and difference, selfhood and mind, self-image and public-image, but also will be able to analyze the influences and consequences of a mediated discourse of identity.

Argumentation and Advocacy

Students learn the basic principles of making arguments and teaches students the correct format for analyzing arguments, organizing ideas, providing evidence for claims and preparing briefs. Students prepare speeches and debates on current public policy issues.