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Communication Studies Courses


School of Communication Studies


SCOM 240. Introduction to Communication Theory.

2 credits.
Study of theories and models that inform understanding of human communication processes. Emphasis on the processes of theory building, comparison of theories, and the implications and application of theory to particular contexts. Consideration of role of communication in all human endeavors. The SCOM 241 lab and SCOM 240 lecture portions must be taken concurrently. Prerequisites: SCOM major declared or SCOM minor declared students only, and any GCOM course.

SCOM 241. Communication Theory Lab.

1 credit.
This lab is designed to complement and supplement the SCOM 240 lecture course. Students will discuss, write, and/or give presentations related to content covered in SCOM 240. The SCOM 241 lab and SCOM 240 lecture portions must be taken concurrently. Prerequisites: SCOM major declared or SCOM minor declared students only, and any GCOM course.

SCOM 242. Presentational Speaking.

3 credits.
Study of methods for preparing and presenting public speeches. Consideration of impromptu and extemporaneous speaking, sales speeches, business presentations and other special occasion speeches. Emphasis on performance and evaluation. Prerequisite: Any GCOM course.

SCOM 245. Signs, Symbols and Social Interaction.

3 credits.
The study of verbal and nonverbal communication as used in human interaction. Consideration given to the function of symbolic systems in self-concept development, the structuring of reality and social discourse. Attention is directed toward the use of signs and symbols by different ethnic groups, genders, age groups and geographic groups. Prerequisites: 'SCOM Major Declared' or 'SCOM Minor Declared' students only and any GCOM course.

SCOM 247. Small Group Communication.

3 credits.
Study of communication processes involved in solving problems when working with others in a small group context. Emphasis on concepts of roles, norms, leadership and decision making. Consideration of small group factors which influence problem-solving effectiveness. Prerequisite: Any GCOM course.

SCOM 248. Intercultural Communication.

3 credits.
The study of human communication in a variety of cultural settings and contexts. Emphasis on developing understanding and analytical skills regarding communication between people from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds in both domestic and international settings. Consideration of relevance and application to social, business and political environments.

SCOM 260. Introduction to Public Relations.

3 credits.
Study of basic principles and practices of public relations. Consideration given to public relations problems and pragmatic solutions utilizing oral, written and electronic communication media and skills.

SCOM 261. Public Relations Techniques I: Written.

3 credits.
Study of writing fundamentals for public relations. Emphasis on practice of effective writing for a variety of media (press releases, public service announcements, brochures, newsletters). Must be able to use word processing software. Prerequisite: SCOM 260.

SCOM 280. Introduction to Communication Research.

3 credits.
An introduction to the principles, methods and analysis techniques used in the field of communication. Emphasis on a broad-based understanding of the breadth of research in the field. Includes both qualitative and quantitative research methods, methods of literature review and research article critiques. Fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major. Prerequisite: SCOM 240.

SCOM/ANTH 305. Language and Culture.

3 credits.
An introduction to linguistic anthropology. Explores the complex relationships between language and culture through topics such as language acquisition and socialization; language, thought, and worldview; language and identity; multilingualism; how and why languages change; literacy; and the politics of language use and language ideologies.

SCOM 313. Topics in Communication Studies.

1-3 credits, repeatable to 6 credits.
Study of current topics and issues in human communication. Emphasis on contemporary theories, research and principles. Prerequisites: Nine hours of SCOM courses including SCOM 240 and one at 100 level.

SCOM 318. Practicum in Communication Studies.

1-6 credits.
Approved co-curricular activities and/or projects of a practical nature. No more than six hours of practicum credit can be applied to major. Proposals must be submitted to and approved by the course instructor for section and credit hour registration. To receive repeat credit, see school director. Prerequisite: Permission of the school director.

SCOM 320. Introduction to Interpersonal Communication.

3 credits.
Introduction to the fundamental theoretical perspectives in interpersonal communication. Emphasis on the effects of verbal and nonverbal messages on continuity and change in personal relationships. Consideration of the influence of cultural and social contexts on messages in relationships. Development of communication competence in diverse interpersonal contexts.

SCOM 330. Special Topics in Interpersonal Communication.

3 credits.
Study of current topics and issues in interpersonal communication. Topics and issues may include, but are not limited to aging and lifespan, communication education, computer mediated relations, deception and secrecy, friendship and rivalry, relationship rejuvenation, and social support. May be repeated up to six credits.

SCOM 331. Communication and Conflict.

3 credits.
Consideration of theories of conflict emerging from the communication discipline and application to different forms of conflict at all levels of human interaction. An examination of communication and varied responses to conflict in diverse situations. Emphasis on competencies required for successful management, intervention and transformation of conflict. Prerequisite: SCOM 240 or SCOM 245 recommended.

SCOM 332. Mediation.

3 credits.
Study of analysis and resolution of human conflict. Emphasis on role of mediation in dispute resolution focusing on relationships, language, listening and problem-solving techniques. Consideration of the interpersonal and group approaches to study of conflict management. Prerequisite: SCOM 240 or SCOM 245 recommended.

SCOM/JUST 333. Negotiations.

3 credits.
Provides an overview of negotiation as a strategy for dealing with conflict. Prerequisites: For Justice Studies Majors, JUST 200 and one other 200-level JUST course. For SCOM fully-admitted majors/minors: No prerequisites.

SCOM 334. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

3 credits.
Study of conflict resolution processes including mediation, arbitration and negotiation. Consideration of litigation and hybrid dispute processes such as summary jury trial, rent-a-judge and panel evaluation.

SCOM 335. Public Speaking Consulting.

3 credits.
Students learn consulting techniques for all phases of public speaking process, including preparation, rehearsal and self-analysis. Specific emphases include the use of PowerPoint and other visual media in oral presentations, the history of communication centers, peer education and public speaking fundamentals. Based in contemporary human communication theory, Public Speaking Consulting provides experiential learning opportunities In JMU's Communication Center. Prerequisites: GCOM 121, GCOM 122 or GCOM 123.

SCOM 340. Principles and Processes of Interviewing.

3 credits.
Study of communication principles and processes in interviewing. Emphasis on interpersonal processes involved in interview structures, goals and question types. Development of communication skills in information, persuasive, counseling, health care, employment and performance appraisal interviews.

SCOM 341. Persuasion.

3 credits.
The study of oral communication as a determinant of attitudinal and behavioral change. Emphasis on the various kinds of artistic and nonartistic proofs as they apply to human motivation. Consideration of the application of behavioral research findings to persuasion. Prerequisites: SCOM 240 and SCOM 280.

SCOM 342. Argument and Advocacy.

3 credits.
The study of the techniques and principles of argument and advocacy. Emphasis on developing, presenting and defending a position on controversial questions. Consideration given to contemporary theories of public argument.

SCOM/WRTC 343. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory and Practice.

3 credits.
A research-infused course that familiarizes students with the major theories, trends and figures in contemporary rhetoric. Students will study the foundational principles of contemporary rhetorical theory and their applications in academic, professional and civic contexts. Prerequisite: GWRTC 103 or equivalent; For WRTC majors: WRTC 200, WRTC 210 or WRTC 211, and WRTC 220 and WRTC 240.

SCOM 344. Oral Interpretation.

3 credits.
Study and application of theories concerning the oral presentation of various forms of literature including prose, poetry, drama and nonfiction materials. Emphasis on performance. Prerequisite: Any 100-level GCOM course.

SCOM 345. Nonverbal Communication.

3 credits.
Study of nonverbal means through which people relate to one another. Consideration of the communicative effects of environment, facial expression, voice, posture, gestures, touch, distance and physical appearance. Prerequisite: Any 200-level SCOM course; SCOM 245 recommended.

SCOM 346. Free Speech in America.

3 credits.
The study of the evolution of freedom of speech in America from Colonial times to the present day. Emphasis on the major periods of development and on the role of courts in defining freedom of speech. Special consideration of contemporary freedom of speech controversies.

SCOM 347. Communication, Diversity and Popular Culture.

3 credits.
Study of the rhetorical dimension of communication practices and texts found in popular culture. Emphasis on issues of diversity as they are manifested in the communication practices found in popular culture. Emphasis on strategic communication choices in a diverse, multicultural world. Emphasis on critical thinking, self-reflexivity and communication analysis. Prerequisite: GCOM 121, GCOM 122 or GCOM 123.

SCOM/WMST 348. Communication and Gender.

3 credits.
Study of theories and research regarding the influence of gender in various human communication contexts, both public and private. Emphasis on the critical analysis of existing theory and empirical research and the potential competent uses of communication for social change. Prerequisite: Any 100-level GCOM course.

SCOM 349. Ethnographic Approaches to Communication Studies.

3 credits.
This course offers an examination of ethnographic approaches to interpersonal, organizational, health and public communication studies. Students will analyze the role of ethnographic methods and inductive research processes toward building theories of communication and assessing communication practices. Prerequisite: Any 100-level GCOM course or permission of instructor.

SCOM 350. Organizational Communication.

3 credits.
Students gain a complex understanding of organizing practices by investigating the evolution of how historical events have influenced organizational communication and managerial practices at work. Drawing upon communication theory, students analyze various organizational communication practices such as the management of workers, development of organizational culture, and interaction with larger systems. Learning is complemented by an experiential learning project.

SCOM/WRTC 351. Visual Rhetoric.

3 credits.
A study of the rhetorical foundations of visual and verbal arguments in academic disciplines and popular culture. Students will analyze and produce visual and verbal arguments in a variety of rhetorical contexts. Prerequisites: GWRTC 103 and any 100-level communication studies course or permission of the instructor.

SCOM 352. Communication and Social Movements.

3 credits.
A study of the use of communication in social movements. Emphasis on the types of communication used in social movements and on ways to produce and respond to such messages. This course examines a variety of different social movements within the political process including nonprofit organizations. Prerequisite: SCOM 240.

SCOM 353. American Political Culture and Communication.

3 credits.
Study of functions performed by communication in politics. Emphasis on a variety of communication forms and techniques used by advocates both in campaigning and governing. Consideration of contemporary campaigns and the role of communication in their successes and failures. Prerequisites: SCOM 240 and GPOSC 225 are recommended.

SCOM 354/WRTC 326. Environmental Communication and Advocacy.

3 credits.
An exploration of the multifaceted aspects of environmental controversies including the rhetoric, advocacy campaigns, and decision-making processes that produce and attempt to manage environmental conflict. Emphasis on persuasive efforts by interest groups, corporations, resource managers, government agencies, scientific experts, politicians and citizens to influence public understanding of environmental issues, adoption of sustainable behavior and lifestyles, and public policy outcomes.

SCOM 357. Youth, Communication and Culture.

3 credits.
Grounded in the cultural communication perspective, the course examines the relationship between communication, youth and popular culture. Defining youth as children, tweens, teens and college-aged young people, this course focuses on communication issues such as how youth are represented in various forms of popular culture; how they are defined by corporate discourse; how young people make sense of popular culture artifacts; and how they become cultural communicators as well as consumers.

SCOM 358. Business and Professional Communication Studies.

3 credits.
Students investigate the nuance and complexity of communication in modern organizational life. A portion of the class is dedicated to the skills involved in a competitive, successful career search. In addition, students develop the skills to become an ethical and effective organizational citizen. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status.

SCOM 361. Public Relations Techniques II: Visual.

3 credits.
Study of visual communication techniques for public relations. Survey of design principles and elements used for developing visually effective messages with an emphasis on publication design and production, photography, and computer-mediated presentations. Students should provide a camera and be familiar with desktop publishing and presentational software. Prerequisite: SCOM 261; open to SCOM public relations concentration students only.

SCOM 367. Advanced Public Relations Writing.

3 credits.
Offers advanced public relations students experience in the wide range of writing style and applications that are essential to successfully begin their professional careers. The course focuses on understanding and mastering action-oriented communication methods and best professional practices. Provides both a conceptual framework and in-depth training in advance techniques. Prerequisite: SCOM 261. Open to SCOM public relations concentration students only.

SCOM 370. Introduction to Health Communication.

3 credits.
An introduction to the study of the theory and practice of communication in health- and medical-related fields. Emphasis on communication interaction between professional health providers and patients/clients. Consideration of strategies that promote effective communication between health/medical professionals and patients/clients. Prerequisite: Any 100-level GCOM course.

SCOM 371. Talking Through Tough Cases: Ethical Principles and Practices in Communication Studies.

3 credits.
Seminar study of current ethical dilemmas and various responses from a communication perspective. Explores theories, principles and practice of managing diverse positions and non-adversarial communication. Prerequisites: Six hours of SCOM courses including SCOM 240.

SCOM 372. Culture and Health Communication.

3 credits.
This course explores how we define and study culture in health communication. Specifically this course compares the culture-centered approach to studying culture and health communication to the cultural sensitivity or culture as barrier model. In this course we apply various theoretical lenses to understand diverse health beliefs and engage in dialogue about our own health beliefs.

SCOM 381. Communication Criticism.

3 credits.
Study of methods of evaluating acts of persuasive communication. Emphasis on developing and applying appropriate standards to determine effectiveness of persuasion. Consideration of criticism of advertising, mass media, public speaking and other forms of persuasive communication. Prerequisites: SCOM 280 and any 100-level GCOM course.

SCOM 383. Communication Research Methodologies.

3 credits.
The study of research methods in various areas of communication. Emphasis on ability to research literature and criticize research design. Prerequisites: SCOM 280 and nine hours of SCOM courses.

SCOM 385. Qualitative Communication Research Methods.

3 credits.
Study of interpretive approaches to communication research using a variety of qualitative research methods, including field observation, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, narrative analysis and discourse analysis. Students will plan and conduct an exploratory qualitative study, prepare a written research report including a literature review and make a research presentation. Prerequisite: SCOM 280.

SCOM 386. Communication Survey Research.

3 credits.
Consideration of survey problems and methods unique to communication. Emphasis on using survey research methodology in communication audits, public relations problems and public opinion polling. Prerequisite: SCOM 280.

SCOM 390. Directed Projects.

2-3 credits, repeatable to 6 credits.
Supervised projects related to any aspect of human communication. Emphasis on original individual or group programs beyond the school's usual curricular or co-curricular offerings. Formal report(s) required for awarding of credit. Prerequisite: Permission of the school director.

SCOM 391. Communication Career Strategies.

1 credit.
The study of strategies for implementing a job/internship campaign. Emphasis on conducting a self assessment, locating job and internship openings, writing resumes, cover letters and follow-up messages, conducting informational interviews, networking, interviewing techniques, and marketing a communication studies degree. Prerequisite: 12 credit hours in SCOM.

SCOM 394. Core Assessment in Communication Studies.

0 credits.
Students participate in testing, interviews and other assessment activities as approved by the School of Communication Studies. Grades will be assigned on a credit/no credit basis. Prerequisites: SCOM 240, SCOM 242, SCOM 245, SCOM 280 and SCOM 341.

SCOM 395. Study Abroad Seminar.

3-6 credits.
Intensive examination of specialized international communication topics arranged in cooperation with a faculty member. Prior arrangements must be made with the program director. Prerequisite: Permission of the program director and school director required.

SCOM 413. Advanced Topics in Communication Studies.

1-6 credits repeatable to 6 credits.
In-depth exploration and analysis of a communication-related theory, context, topic or problem, culminating in a research project documented in written, oral, visual and/or multimedia presentations. Course content varies based on faculty expertise. Prerequisites: Senior standing and 15 hours of SCOM courses.

SCOM/WMST/WRTC 420. Feminist Rhetorics.

3 credits.
Surveys key women figures in classical and contemporary rhetorical traditions and challenges the strategies used to historicize this tradition from feminist perspectives. Explores diverse feminist rhetorical discourses informed by race, sexual orientation, ethnicity and social class. Prerequisites: GWRTC 103 or equivalent and junior or senior standing, or permission of instructor.

SCOM 425. Leadership Communication.

3 credits.
This course promotes understanding and development of organizational leadership through investigation of theory and analysis. Students explore varied and sometimes contradictory models of leadership and learn how to articulate and express ideas that encourage others to advocate for and bring about positive change. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing.

SCOM 431. Legal Communication.

3 credits.
Study of the role of communication in the legal process. Emphasis on communication questions/ problems which litigants, lawyers, judges and jurors face. Consideration of legal argument, negotiation, trial advocacy, decision making and communication technologies.

SCOM 432. Senior Seminar in Conflict Analysis and Intervention.

3 credits.
An advanced seminar, capstone course open to all junior and senior SCOM students, and required for conflict majors and minors. Special topics are developed to include research in conflict analysis and intervention, current trends in dispute resolution, evolving practices in conflict transformation, peacemaking, and mediation, as well as other relevant and timely issues.

SCOM 440. Family Communication.

3 credits.
Study of the processes and functions of family communication, including managing dating, marital, parent-child and intergenerational relations. Theoretical and applied examination of communication and cultural processes that define and construct family structures, systems and boundaries. Course also examines histories of family communication as constructed in popular culture. Prerequisite: SCOM 280.

SCOM/HIST 441. Oral History.

3 credits.
This course will explore the theory and practice of oral history. Through a series of readings, students will consider the many promises and challenges of the discipline, including issues related to memory, objectivity, ethics, the law, and technology. Students will also engage in an experiential learning exercise in which they collaborate to produce an oral history project. Prerequisite: HIST 395 or permission of instructor.

SCOM 448. Communication, Culture and Identity.

3 credits.
This class examines theory and research of cultural communication, and reflexively considers how communication practices construct identities and arrange social relations within diverse contexts and applied settings. Prerequisites: Any one of the following courses: SCOM 305, SCOM 347, SCOM 348, SCOM 349, SCOM 352, or SCOM 357.

SCOM 449. Communication Training.

3 credits.
Students learn to analyze organizations to manage and solve communication problems and improve organizational life. Through experiential learning students will become familiar with strategies and activities designed to help others improve their communication skills. Students gain experience leading meetings, engaging an audience, collaborating, and facilitating difficult conversations. Prerequisites: SCOM 242, junior standing and 12 hours in speech communication, or permission of the instructor.

SCOM 450. Advanced Studies in Organizational Communication.

3 credits.
Advanced studies in organizational communication is the concentration's capstone. Through case studies, readings, discussions, and experiential activities students investigate complex issues that emerge for organizations and their members. Students apply theoretical knowledge and skills as they develop organizational communication concepts to analyze a communication problem. Expertise is showcased through an applied field study in an active organization. Prerequisite: SCOM 350 and senior standing.

SCOM 453. Political Campaign Communication.

3 credits.
An advanced study of communication techniques, procedures and processes as they relate to political campaign communication. Emphasis upon the design, execution and production of various communication messages. Consideration of the impact and utilization of various technologies in political campaigns.

SCOM 460. Public Relations Management.

3 credits.
Intensive study and research of advanced communication management skills, theory and principles using case and field studies. Special attention to systematic and ethical management of communication and action affecting an organization's internal and external publics. Prerequisites: SCOM 261 and SCOM 341.

SCOM 461. Public Relations Campaigns.

3 credits.
The capstone course for the public relations program of study. Students further their theoretical understanding and practical skills in the processes of research, planning, communication/action, and evaluation by conducting campaigns for specific organizations. Prerequisites: SCOM 261, SCOM 361 or SCOM 367, SCOM 383 or SCOM 386 and SCOM 460.

SCOM 463. International Public Relations.

3 credits.
Explores the special professional challenges and opportunities arising from the dynamic global public relations developments characterizing the beginning of this century, taking into account social, economic, political, legal, and cultural factors as well as new media developments. Prerequisites: SCOM 260 or permission of instructor.

SCOM/WRTC 465. Rhetoric of Environmental Science and Technology.

3 credits.
This course offers an advanced study of the way the public receives, makes sense of, and influences scientific and technical information about environmental issues. Implications of these processes on environmental policy will be analyzed. Readings and assignments will concentrate on the interactions between technical and public spheres of communication, with an in-depth examination of the way the media facilitates the transfer of information between scientific communities and public audiences. Prerequisites: GWRTC 103 or equivalent and junior or senior standing, or permission of the instructor.

SCOM 467. Global Public Relations Seminar.

3 credits.
Advanced experimental learning approach combined with relevant theory and research provides students with an opportunity to enhance critical global communication knowledge and skills urgently required to meet this century's cultural, social, political and economic challenges. Students team with peers at universities worldwide in developing comprehensive strategic management programs. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

SCOM 470. Health Communication Campaigns.

3 credits.
The study of advanced theory and practice of communication in health related fields. Consideration of topics relating to communication issues which affect communication interaction between health professionals and client/patients. Emphasis on the use of communication in health communication campaigns. Prerequisite: SCOM 370.

SCOM/SMAD/POSC 472. Media and Politics.

3 credits.
A study of the media's role in political campaigns, concentrating on past/present election, the media's role in covering political parties and coverage of the governing process. Discussion of electronic and print will occur. Topics to be examined include campaign videos, CSPAN, political ads, editorial cartoons, TV debates, convention coverage and radio talk show commentary.

SCOM 490. Special Studies in Communication Studies.

1-3 credits.
An independent study for students to pursue individual research under the guidance of faculty. Limited to senior communication studies majors in good standing with permission of school director.

SCOM 495. Internship in Communication Studies.

3-6 credits, repeatable to 6 credits.
Credit for the application of communication theory and skills in a directed, on-the-job learning experience. Open only to communication studies majors who meet specific criteria (see the school website). Up to six credits may be applied as electives in the communication studies' major. Prerequisite: Permission of the school director.

SCOM 499. Honors in Communication Studies.

6 credits.
Year course. Prerequisite: Permission of the school director.