A-to-Z Index

GMAD 150

GMAD faculty are committed to helping students think critically about these key areas:

  1. how the profit motive shapes media content in our consumption-driven, global marketplace;
  2. how media function both to reinforce and resist social inequalities based on economics, gender, age, race, disability, and sexuality; and
  3. how media literacy is essential to our democratic process because it enables citizens to make informed political decisions, become effective change agents, and have an active role in their system of governance.

Students also investigate communication theories dealing with the uses of media in everyday life, agenda setting, gatekeeping, the cultivation of meaning, and the impact of electronic channels on the style and reception of traditional forms of exchange (speech and writing).

Besides weekly 75-minute lectures/demonstrations in which themes and issues are introduced, there is a weekly 75-minute lab for discussing the lectures and text. Through lab group projects, students are introduced to computer presentation skills and to methods for using them to frame and analyze the course’s weekly topics.

The GMAD faculty take research and writing seriously. They work hard to strengthen students’ research proficiency and information literacy and to maintain rigorous standards for writing. For instance, each student must complete a written research exercise (annotated bibliography) prior to the group presentation. In addition, the presentation is evaluated in part on the quality of sources used and on the correct citation of sources.

In coordination with other Cluster One faculty and with colleagues in Carrier Library, GMAD faculty continue to work on creating more effective assignments that will “provide students with critical skills in reasoning, communication, and information literacy that build a strong foundation for course work at JMU as well as for their lives and careers after college” (“General Education: The Human Community, Mission Statement,” JMU Undergraduate Catalog 2006-2007, p. 86).

Overall, the course endeavors to teach students how to apply the skills of media literacy to the understanding of how the technologies and economics of mass communication affect (and are affected by) our perception of ourselves, each other, and the culture that surrounds us.