Spring 2016 Communications Topics Courses

COM 402 Advanced Web Design, MWF 2:30-3:20

Web Design & Development. The class will be a mixture of web design theory and practical front-end techniques. Students are expected to have experience hand-coding websites using HTML and CSS, a basic understanding of using Git, and be familiar with basic principles of design such as color and typography. Topics covered will include: usability, accessibility, git, Javascript/jQuery, designing for content management, and using WordPress as a CMS. By the end of this course, students should have solid understanding of the web design industry and modern web design techniques.

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COM 442 Non-Profit Communications -Wolff, TR 12:30-1:45

Not-for-profit and community-based organizations rely on strategic digital communication to create social change. Students in this course gain in-depth knowledge of communication theories and practices while conducting research projects with local organizations through the Beautiful Social Research Collaborative. Those who complete this course will know how to apply a variety of social media theories and practices to the social web (including network theory and social network analysis). Students in the course will actively participate as a member of a project team to complete projects with clients in the Greater Philadelphia area. Local travel is required.



****Note COM473 can be taken multiple times for credit provided the topics are different.

COM 473 Women’s Lives Online -Sullivan, TR 3:30-4:45

This course focuses on reading, evaluating, and creating digital stories about contemporary women’s lives on the internet. From one perspective, women have a visible presence on the internet and regularly use digital forms of personal narrative to self-document and shape identity. From another perspective, however, women are oftenobjects of cultural narratives that attack femininity and women’s sexuality online. We’ll pursue a feminist analysis of creative production, power, and inequality to better understand intersections of gender, race, and sexuality and discuss the issues at stake in participating in a digital public sphere. From selfies to memes to social media, online communication can perpetuate gendered identities and violent interactions, even as those same technologies help women curate their interests and strengthen their networks of support.

Students will complete three major projects during the semester: a digital storytelling project to document a community or individual woman, a digital autoethnography in which students tell their own story as situated in a particular culture, and lastly a prototype for a totally new or drastically redesigned social network. As a class, we will also work together to coordinate and promote a Wikipedia edit-a-thon in honor of Women’s History Month in March.

images from Skype Fashion Week by Isaac Kariuki (2015)

images from Skype Fashion Week by Isaac Kariuki (2015)



COM 473 Privacy and Surveillance in the Digital Era -Parry, TR 2:00-3:15

Based on your cell phone history researchers can predict where you will be 24 hours from now. You can download and install software onto a computer to monitor and capture everything a user does. Nearly every thing you buy is recorded in a database. Corporations track every page view and click. Your email is easily read by third parties. Target knows when a customer is pregnant. Even the post office scans and digitally images every piece of mail it sends. It is impossible to not leave a digital trace, and all of these traces are being collected.  In this class we will look at how our digital lives intersect with and effect our privacy. Is privacy dead in the age of constant surveillance? Should we even care? And who benefits from all this data collection? We will look to answer these question both on a technological level, what is possible, and a critical level, what does this mean for democracy and society. We will also seek to put this knowledge into practice, understanding and using what tools and techniques citizens can employ to regain privacy both in their lives as individuals and citizens.



COM 473 Critical Hacking and Making: Technology of the People in Culture and Practice -Famiglietti, MW 3:35-4:50

Want to gain mastery of the sometimes confusing technologies in your life? Want to learn how to 3d print real objects from a digital model?
Want to work together with classmates to build a tangible technological artifact that accomplishes your own goals? This is the class for you!

“If you can’t open it, you don’t own it,” proclaims the Maker Manifesto. In this class, we will explore the methods developed by the hacker and maker communities for opening up, exploring, and re-imaging everyday technologies. We will learn about how technologies have embedded within them cultural values, and learn how we can bend these technologies to fit new values with just a bit of technical skill. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to practice technical skills like 3d object design, soldering, and simple programming. No prior experience is required, the class is designed to show how even beginners can learn to “hack” technology.


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