NEW Option Courses for Spring 2017

The following courses will be offered during the Spring 2017 semester. The locations and times of each course are still to be determined.

Course Descriptions:

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

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: Crime, Justice, and Media, MW 3:35PM-4:50PM, Professor Lyons

Crime and justice have been in the news a lot in recent years, from videos of police-involved shootings to “tough on crime” speeches on the presidential campaign trail. Students in this course will learn how media narratives about crime and justice are shaped and how those narratives, in turn, have shaped public policy debates on issues like mass incarceration, policing and sentencing. We will examine several case studies, such as the “Central Park Five,” to better understand how narratives are shaped, consumed and perpetuated. A substantial part of the course focuses on devising media production strategies aimed at social justice issues in collaboration with vulnerable populations. We will do this by devising and producing projects for The Redemption Project (, a multimedia site I founded with three incarcerated men that disrupts narratives about people in prison. This course has a substantial component outside of class that is required. Two visits outside of class – to Philadelphia’s “murder court” in Center City – and to Graterford Prison (about an hour away) are required. Transportation will be provided.

COM 442: Non-Profit Communications, MWF 1:25PM-2:15PM, Professor Wolff

Not-for-profit and community-based organizations rely on strategic digital communication to create positive social change. Students will 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 help organizations achieve their communication goals. Students in the course will actively participate as a member of a project team to complete projects with clients in the Greater Philadelphia area and, from time to time, beyond. Local travel is required.

COM 402: Advanced Web Design, MWF 12:20PM-1:10PM, professor TBA

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 a solid understanding of the web design industry and modern web design techniques.