COMMLD 550: The Law and Ethics of Community Building in Private, Public, and Nonprofit Entities

Course Description:

All organizations — private, public and non-profit — inevitably encounter legal and ethical challenges when building and engaging with their communities and networks. Leaders must be able to identify, anticipate, and problem solve issues such as how legal relationships are created and to whom legal and ethical duties are owed. They must also grapple with challenges such as how to balance privacy concerns with building an organization’s base, who owns specific content or ideas, and what advocacy strategies to employ when defining deliverables and implementing initiatives. This course considers and juxtaposes the legal and ethical realities of community building through a cross-sector approach. We will survey a wide array of case studies in which law and ethics may overlap, conflict, or be silent. We will engage in practical story exercises that maximize understanding of how law and ethics impact how organizations communicate to clients, customers, and constituencies. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to bring in legal and ethical issues from their professional experiences to enrich discussion of course topics such as legal relationships and duties, privacy, ownership, and making advocacy choices.

Student Testimonial:

“This course helped me to build a basic understanding of legal and ethical issues related to business and companies. I am very interested in intellectual property and how to protect trademarks and copyright. Thanks to this the class, I have developed a habit of checking every contract from digital services. Before the class, I just clicked “Agree.” I have developed the habit of asking for permission when I record interviewee’s for video or podcast production. Brenda is passionate and informed. She reads business news every day and researched about issues of ethics and law from the news and brought them to class as timely examples. You can feel her enthusiasm from her voice.I was so inspired by her that I even thought about getting a law degree!”