Academic Course Catalogs

Drop Shadow

Communication Studies

Kristin C. Moran, PhD, CHAIR
Bradley J. Bond, PhD
Jonathan M. Bowman, PhD
Leeva C. Chung, PhD
Esteban del Río, PhD
Gregory Ghio, MA
Carole L. Huston, PhD
Gina Lew, MA
Antonieta Mercado, PhD
Roger C. Pace, PhD
Eric C. Pierson, PhD
Linda A. M. Perry, PhD, EMERITA
Susannah R. Stern, PhD
David B. Sullivan, PhD

The Communication Studies Major

Communication studies is firmly committed to academic excellence through promoting a rigorous and relevant curriculum grounded in the liberal arts tradition. We approach communication as the primary social process: the various modes of human communication forge and maintain individual identity and collective organization. Our curriculum offers an integrated approach to communication, providing depth and breadth of knowledge. Undergraduate students will become competent in analyzing the construction, reception, and effectiveness of messages, which give shape to our world. Communication studies prepare students to participate in professional, social, and civic life in an ethical, intellectually curious, and engaged manner.

Students who complete the major will have knowledge of foundational theories of communication; prevailing communication research paradigms; media industry structure and practices; prevailing criticism of media practice and performance; media influence on individuals and groups; the interplay of media systems in a global context; roles and functions of communication in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts; conventions of public address and advocacy; and the impact and ethics of persuasion. Students will also have the ability to think critically; develop and present an argument; conduct and evaluate social scientific, interpretive, and critical research; communicate effectively in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts; and invent, arrange, and deliver effective and ethical messages via oral, print, and electronic modes.

All students in the communication studies major must complete 39 units of coursework in the major, including 15 units of Lower-Division Core Courses, 6 units of Upper-Division Core Courses, and an additional 18 units divided into 6 units of Human Communication course, 6 units of Media Studies courses, and 6 elective units from upper division offerings.

Practical experience is a valuable addition to the undergraduate major and the department offers opportunities for students to work in student media production as well as participating in the internship program. The department supports The Vista, USDtv, and USD Radio and offers the opportunity to receive academic credit for some of these practicum experiences, but no more than three units combined of 491, 492 or 498 may be applied toward the major or minor. No more than six units combined of any practicum within the College may be applied to the BA degree.

Students are encouraged to participate in study abroad to complement the major with global learning opportunities. No more than six units from a non-USD faculty led study abroad course can be applied to the major or minor.

COMM 101, 130 and 203 satisfy the core curriculum requirement in the social sciences.

Required Lower-Division Core (15 units)
COMM 101, 130, 203, 220, 265

Required Upper-Division Core (6 units)
COMM 300 and 336

Required Upper-Division Human Communication (6 units)
Select from: COMM 325, 326, 350, 353, 370, 403, 422, 445, 455, 460, 475, 488

Required Upper-Division Media Studies (6 units)
Select from: COMM 330, 380, 421, 432, 435, 462, 463, 480, 482, 483, 485

Upper-Division Electives (6 units)

Select from any upper division communication course course including COMM courses not listed above.
The Communication Studies Minor

The communication studies minor consists of 6 Lower-Division Units and 12 Upper-Division Units to be selected in consultation with an advisor.

Required Lower-Division Core (6 units)
COMM 101 and either 130, 203, or 220

Required Upper-Division Core (3 units)
Select from COMM 300 or 336

Upper-Division Electives (9 units)
Select from any upper division communication course.

Communication Studies, Recommended Program of Study

Communication Studies Courses (COMM)

COMM 101 INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN COMMUNICATION (3)
An examination of the principles and contexts of human communication. Some of the principles surveyed are perception, listening, nonverbal communication, and persuasion. The primary contexts examined include interpersonal, group, organizational, and public communication. This course is a prerequisite for many upper division communication studies courses, and fulfills a core curriculum requirement in the social sciences.

COMM 130 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES (3)
This course offers an introduction to the examination of media emphasizing media literacy. Students learn about the origins, history, and development of mass media in the United States. Additionally, the present structure, characteristics, and challenges in the contemporary media environment are addressed. Fulfills a core curriculum requirement in the social sciences.

COMM 203 PUBLIC SPEAKING (3)
An introduction to several forms of public communication. Emphasis is placed on the development and practice of public speaking about salient political, cultural, and social issues. Students are taught an audience-sensitive approach to the invention, arrangement, and delivery of public messages. Fulfills a core curriculum requirement in the social sciences.

COMM 220 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA WRITING (3)
A general introduction to the skills and strategies associated with print and electronic journalism. Students are exposed to methods of news gathering, reporting, writing, and editing. The elements of the news story, interviewing, and the news conference are among the topics covered.

COMM 265 INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH (3)
An introduction to communication research methodologies. Students are exposed to the prevailing paradigms of qualitative and quantitative research. The interpretive, descriptive, and explanatory foundations of research methodologies will be examined. Ethical principles governing the process of research will also be explored.

COMM 300 COMMUNICATION THEORY (3)
This course provides a comprehensive survey of the various theories that comprise the communication studies discipline. Students are exposed to the dominant philosophical, conceptual, and critical perspectives germane to communication as a distinct academic pursuit. This class is intended as an overview of both speech communication and media studies traditions and it is recommended to complete this course prior to other upper division courses in Communication Studies. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 325 INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION (3)
This course examines the dynamics of relational communication. Humanistic and social scientific theories of interpersonal relationship development will be emphasized. Topics include impression management, attraction, love, conflict, and the dark side. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 326 NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION (3)
This course draws upon and scrutinizes the intersection of nonverbal and verbal communication channels, with an emphasis on the influence of nonverbal channels on communicator competence in interpersonal, media, organization, intercultural, and group contexts. Examples of specific topics include scholarship on the theory and application of nonverbal codes (and subsequent functions) vocal variation, nonverbal channels, and context-specific communication style. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 330 OR 330W MEDIA PROCESSES AND EFFECTS (3)
This course examines the process of media production and the theories related to the effects media have on audiences. A historical approach is used to analyze and explain the development of the field of mass communication. Other topics include the functions media perform for individuals and society. Analysis and application of media theory is emphasized. Prerequisite: COMM 130.

COMM 336 OR 336W COMMUNICATION CRITICISM (3)
This course introduces students to critical analytic methods used to understand the symbolic nature of communication messages. Students will be introduced to the nature of communication criticism, learn to distinguish between popular and scholarly criticism and employ criticism as a means of making ethical judgments. Prerequisites: COMM 101.

COMM 338 MEDIA AND CONFLICT (3)
This course examines the role media play in the progression and public perceptions of conflict. Relevant topics will include media and military intervention, portrayals of protest movements, and news and entertainment coverage of crime, rumors, domestic politics, violence, and ethnicity. It is recommended that students complete COMM 130 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 350 SMALL GROUP COMMUNICATION (3)
An examination of theories and principles of group communication. Students study interactional and attitudinal variables which influence the nature of group dynamics. Topics include group norms and roles, leadership, motivation, coalition formation, communication networks, and decision making. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 353 ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION (3)
This course examines the form and function of messages within organizations, with special emphasis on business communication. The course will focus on the role of communication in developing productive work relationships, human-resource practices, and organizational cultures. Topics include past and current management practices, communication networks and technologies, interpersonal relationships in organizations, public communication, and organizational communication assessment. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 365 COMMUNICATION RESEARCH METHODS (3)
A survey of contemporary quantitative methods in communication research. This course will help students understand how to measure and explain communication behaviors and beliefs from a quantitative perspective. Students will be exposed to methods such as experimentation, structured observation, and survey design, including the analysis and interpretation of results. Prerequisite: COMM 265

COMM 366W INTERPRETATIVE RESEARCH METHODS (3)
A survey of contemporary interpretive methods in communication research. This course will help students understand bases of knowledge and value of communication from a qualitative perspective. Students will be exposed to methods such as field observation, ethnography, and content analysis. Prerequisite:
COMM 265.

COMM 370 OR 370W RHETORICAL THEORY (3)
An examination of rhetorical thinking from its birth in Athens to the present time covering basic rhetorical principals and tenets. Students explore issues such as rhetoric as a humane discipline, the place of rhetoric in democracies, and the worth of rhetoric as a means of inducing change. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 380 INTERNATIONAL MEDIA (3)
This course examines media systems, uses, and social impact around the world, with an emphasis on trans-national comparisons of media development. Topics to be addressed include globalization of the media environment, media and national identity, communication for social change, and the influence of U.S. media on cultures around the world. It is recommended that students complete COMM 130 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 403 ADVANCED PUBLIC SPEAKING (3)
This course includes training in the types of professional presentations that occur in business, politics, education, and other forms of public communication. Through instructor and peer evaluation, students will gain proficiency in such skills as manuscript, extemporaneous, and impromptu speaking, and the use of conventional and electronic visual aids. Recommended as preparation for management, graduate work, and all levels of teaching. Prerequisite: COMM 203.

COMM 421 OR 421W ADVANCED JOURNALISM (3)
This course combines instruction in contemporary theories about press performance with advanced newsroom skills. The course advances students’ understanding of newsroom management, news gathering, press ethics, and the organizational norms that drive journalistic styles. Students develop advanced reporting and editing skills in completing various news assignments. Prerequisite: COMM 220.

COMM 422 or 422W FAMILY BUSINESS COMMUNICATION (3)
This course provides an examination of family communication theory as it applies to interaction and cognition within the rich context of our earliest group membership. Role formation, identity development and a range of family structures across the life span will be emphasized in both a modern and historical contexts. Students will applytheory to understand and analyze their own and others’ familial communication experiences.

COMM 432 OR 432W FILM AND CULTURAL POLITICS (3)
This course looks at the role of film in responding to and defining culture and politics. It focuses on mainstream, commercial, and narrative film, and includes a focus on historical and ideological approaches to film criticism. Students will be encouraged to appreciate historically significant movies, learn sophisticated methods of film criticism, and assess the contributions contemporary films make to students’ understanding of themselves and others. It is recommended that students complete COMM 336 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 435 PRINCIPLES OF PRODUCTION (3)
This course provides students an opportunity to learn production skills while incorporating discussions of aesthetics, film theory, and ethics. Students are introduced to three phases of broadcast production: writing and planning (storyboarding, scripting); audio (actualities, sound effects, music); and visual production (composition, lighting, editing). By the end of the course, students will produce a short video and/or audio presentation. Prerequisite: COMM 130.

COMM 445 OR 445W GENDER COMMUNICATION (3)
This course provides an overview of the relevant research on gender issues and the construction of gender through mediated forms. Communicator styles of women and men are discussed. Attitudes and beliefs concerning female and male cultural stereotypes as they are manifested through communication are investigated. It is recommended that students complete COMM 101 and 130 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 455 INTERVIEWING AND NEGOTIATING: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES (3)
This course is an examination of methods and techniques applicable to a variety of interviews and negotiations. Students prepare, participate in, and critique employment, journalistic, and appraisal interviews. Students also learn techniques and principles of negotiating, including alternative dispute resolution, distributive bargaining, and principled negotiations. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 460 PERSUASION AND PROPAGANDA (3)
In this course students will examine the various forms of interpersonal, public, and mass persuasion messages that they encounter daily. Students will understand rhetorical, cognitive, and behavioral theories of persuasion, with emphasis placed on propaganda and the ethical critique of human persuasion. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

COMM 462 POLITICAL COMMUNICATION (3)
A survey of the centrality of communication processes in substantive areas of political activity. Areas of study include political speeches, election campaigns, debates, government and media relations, advertising and propaganda, and political movements. Special emphasis is placed on the relationship between public opinion and the use of rhetorical strategies, imagery, and symbolism.

COMM 463 SPORTS AND MEDIA (3)
This course examines the numerous aspects of the sports-media relationship in the US, where many of the global trends and developments in sports communication have occurred. Drawing perspectives from popular criticism and scholarly research, the course surveys the development of sports media, the coverage and business of sports media, sports media audiences and fanship, and contemporary issues in sports media. Students are expected to enhance their understanding of social scientific, normative, and cultural studies approaches to media phenomena through a focused examination of mediated sports as cultural artifact.

COMM 475 OR 475W INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION (3)
This course allows students to explore intercultural communication theory and research within both broad and interpersonal contexts. Topics include similarities and differences in values, language, interethnic/intergroup communication, identity and adaptation. Students will enhance flexibility with such encounters. It is recommended that students complete COMM 300 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 480 OR 480W ADVANCED TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL MEDIA (3)
This upper division elective provides students an opportunity for an in-depth analysis and examination of media systems in a particular region of the world and/or transnational connections around a particular international cultural practice. Topics will vary according to the instructor and interest. General themes may include Latin American Media Systems, British Media Systems, Asian Cinema or Global Youth Culture. Course may be repeated as topics vary. It is recommended that students complete COMM 130 and COMM 380 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 482 OR 482W CHILDREN AND MEDIA (3)
This course is an overview of the relevant research on the role of electronic media in the lives of children. Some topics include; sex role stereotypes, violence; advertising; relationships, body image; and materialism. Students will also explore the positive influence of electronic media including its use for pro-social and educational purposes. It is recommended that students complete COMM 130 and COMM 330 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 483 TEENS AND POPULAR CULTURE (3)
This course aims to examine the complex relationship between teenagers and the popular media. Focusing primarily on American teens, various important issues will be considered, such as: how media portray teens, how corporations target teens as a market, how teens make active choices about which media they attend to and how, and how teens themselves actively create their own media and culture. Our goal is to resist simple speculation about media’s effects on youth, and to instead engage with why media use is pleasurable and meaningful to young people, and how it operates in their lives. It is recommended that students complete COMM 130 and COMM 330 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 485 or 485W WRITING FOR MEDIA (3)
This course provides students an opportunity to learn skills and strategies associated with writing and production in various media forms. Course material surveys the industry standards media professionals bring to their work, as well as academic criticism of these practices. Students will learn how to create and criticize a variety of media texts, including screenplays, television narratives, and/or advertisements. It is recommended that students complete COMM 130 before enrolling in this course.

COMM 488 GLOBAL TEAM DEVELOPMENT (3)
This course is designed to further students’ understanding of intercultural and small group theory, development, and research and explore how groups develop into teams. Students will have the opportunity to work in multicultural and virtual teams providing basic diversity training and development, and research. The course emphasizes a wide range and scope of topics related to teams and teamwork by addressing issues such as finding alternative solutions to problems, reaching decisions, making recommendations, and understanding the process of team and organizational development as a whole.

COMM 491 VISTA STAFF (1-3)
Students interested in receiving journalism experience may participate in the publication of the USD student newspaper The Vista by serving as staff writers, editors, or working in other available positions. Enrollment is by consent of instructor.

COMM 492 USDtv STAFF (1-3)
Students interested in gaining experience in broadcasting may work for the campus television station, USDtv. Students are eligible to be on-air talent, serve as producers, editors, marketing personnel, or other available positions. Enrollment is by consent of instructor.

COMM 494 SPECIAL TOPICS IN COMMUNICATION STUDIES (3)
Selected topics in Communication Studies will be examined. The course may be repeated as topics vary.

COMM 495 SENIOR PROJECT (2-3)
This seminar is a capstone course in which seniors produce an original research or creative project. The course addresses research methods, critical thinking, and the writing process. Students will present the results of their work. Recommended for students planning on pursuing graduate studies.

COMM 496 RESEARCH experience (1-3)
The goal of the advanced Research Experience is to provide communication studies majors with an applied experience in the conduct of original academic research by assisting on a faculty-led scholarly project. The experience is designed to build expressly on the knowledge students gain in COMM 265 or a more advanced research methods courses. Students will meet with a faculty member, with whom a research relationship is established, on an on-going basis to discuss the research project, assess the student’s role and responsibilities, and to discuss the process of conducting scholarly research. Students may participate in a range of research activities, including but not limited to: survey construction and design, project management, participant solicitation, experimental research, qualitative interviewing, focus group moderation, fieldwork, literature searches, data entry, data analysis, critical analysis, political economy inquiries, and writing of instruments and manuscripts. Students must register with a specific faculty member with whom they complete a contract outlining the roles and responsibilities of the student and faculty member. Prerequisite: COMM 265

COMM 498 COMMUNICATION STUDIES INTERNSHIP (2-3)
An experiential education course in which students participate as interns in either radio or television, public relations, advertising, or some facet of organizational communication. Open only to communication studies majors or minors of second-semester junior status or higher. No more than 3 internship units may be applied toward the major or minor. Students should consult the communication studies Internship Director or go to www.sandiego.edu/commstudies/interns for details about enrollment and qualification. Prerequisite: Students must either have completed or be concurrently enrolled in COMM 300; second-semester junior status or higher.

COMM 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3)
Students interested in completing an independent research project with guidance from a faculty member may consider independent study. Students should consult a faculty member who has expertise in their interest area and be prepared to explain their intended project or research question(s). The student and instructor agree upon specific requirements. Registration is by consent of instructor and requires the completion of the independent study form.