Classes

Classes are designed to challenge your thinking and develop your professional skills. You’ll leave each class with a unique set of tools to approach new communications challenges.

Tailor your experience to your career goals by focusing on one of eight areas of specialization. Use the search widget below to sort classes by quarter, specialization, instructor and degree track for each quarter. Get a comprehensive view of the full academic year in our Course Guide.

View the University of Washington Academic Calendar for important dates, including quarter start and end dates, registration dates and deadlines, and campus holidays.

Registration numbers (SLNs) are located on the Time Schedule. Please read the Department’s statement on internet resource requirements for access to courses.

COMMLD 580A: Content Design for Conversational AI

(

Bradshaw

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCDM Elective | 5 Credits
Tuesdays 3/26 – 5/28, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | DEM 112
Registration SLN: 12575

Course Description

Conversational AI has significantly reshaped human interactions, impacting how we connect, purchase, work, learn, and live our lives in the 21st century. This course delves into Conversational AI, exploring its intricate relationship with communication and media theory. Students will delve into the intricate interplay between human interaction and AI, including the foundational groundwork required for constructing dialogues, and explore generative AI’s potential and limitations. By immersing ourselves in critical questions such as the necessity of bots and avatars, and their roles in mimicking human discourse, we embark on a journey to uncover the underlying motives. We will focus on real-world case studies from business and education, enabling us to paint a holistic portrait of the vast Conversational AI landscape.

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COMMLD 559: Law, Data, & Privacy

(

Baker

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCDM Elective | Meets Law & Ethics Requirement | 5 Credits
Tuesdays 3/26 – 5/28, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 12570

Course Description

“Big Data,” “The Internet of Things,” “Behavioral Advertising,” “Analytics” — all buzzwords capturing the explosion of data and the promise of what we can do with data. Collecting, using, organizing, and sharing data and information also evokes legal issues and individual and collective uncertainty over who owns this data, what rights does one own, how does the data usage implicate privacy issues, how is and how should data use be regulated by the government, by private entities, for advertising, etc. This course will explore the legal issues associated with data usage, data collection, sharing of user information, and licensing. This course will pay particular attention to privacy laws in the United States, how the FTC and other regulators are approaching advertisers’ use of personal information, how organizations attempt to keep data secure, and how intellectual property rights protect (and do not protect) data and databases.

Meets Law & Ethics Requirement.

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COMMLD 534: Visual Storytelling: From Comics to Transmedia

(

Salkowitz

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCDM Electrive | 5 Credits
Saturdays 3/30, 4/13, 4/27, 5/11, 5/25, 9:00am – 5:00pm | CMU 302
Registration SLN: 12562

Course Description

This course will provide you with a solid understanding of the medium of sequential art and visual narrative (aka “comics”) and the practical ability to incorporate visual storytelling into traditional, digital, and transmedia projects in a variety of entertainment, business, education, social and journalistic scenarios. Why comics? Comics and sequential art have gone from the margins of popular culture to the center of a multi-billion dollar global industry and a respected art-form. Many of the most popular movies, television, video games and transmedia projects are adapted from comics and/or depend heavily on storytelling styles that originated with this unique medium. Issues of digital distribution, adaptation and audience engagement that arise in today’s “comics culture” affect the future of publishing, technology, social media and gaming. Beyond the world of entertainment, the principles of visual narrative are becoming fundamental to all manner of storytelling projects, global initiatives and creative enterprises. This class will explore the history and potential of comics as a storytelling medium in the digital age in both media studies and business dimension, incorporating both theory and practice.

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COMMLD 517: The Psychology of User Experience

(

Haverly

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement | 5 Credits
Mondays 3/25 – 5/20, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | Online
Registration SLN: 12556

Course Description

Designers, product marketers, and entrepreneurs will learn the psychological constrictions of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation, and social influence that determine whether or not customers will be receptive to their digital innovations. This will give their innovations an edge on what are increasingly competitive platforms such as apps, bots, in-car apps, augmented reality content). Students will learn…

The psychological processes determining users’ perception of, engagement with, and recommendation of digital innovations

Examples of interfaces before and after simple psychological alignments that vastly enhanced their effectiveness

How to identify, apply theory, and develop consulting or research recommendations based on psychological theory

Application to their own business interests. A deeper understanding of common digital interfaces such as conversion funnels, display advertisements, and mobile notifications.

A broader understanding of the human context of digital ventures, and the ethical differences between alignment and meeting needs vs. exploitation and unsustainable design approaches

Meets Research Methods Requirement.

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COMMLD 515: Advanced User Design: UX Studio

(

Levine

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement | 5 Credits
Wednesdays 3/27 – 5/29, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | CMU 104
Registration SLN: 12555

Course Description

In this class, students will work in small groups to design and prototype innovative user-centered solutions to real-world problems and develop an application. Students will develop their projects from a user experience (UX) design perspective and produce a strong piece for their portfolio.

The course emulates real-life aspects of UX design teams, including in-depth experience with user research, usability testing and iterating on the product with real-life users. By the end of the course, students will construct a map of a product’s full customer journey, develop personas with use cases, design a working prototype, and build a proposal with requirements for the concept.

Prerequisite: COMMLD 511, 512, or 517.

Meets Research Methods Requirement.

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COMMLD 511: Introduction to User Centered Design

(

Vanderburg

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCDM Elective | Meets Research Methods Requirement | 5 Credits
Mondays 3/25 – 5/20, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | CMU 230
Registration SLN: 12553

Course Description

This course focuses on the fundamentals of user experience design, identifying the skills and concepts needed to successfully design products and services for humans. We will learn the principles of design thinking so that students come away from the class with a framework for understanding how to identify real user problems, design solutions for how to solve those problems, and then test those solutions with real people.

Meets Research Methods Requirement

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COMMLD 560A: Communicating Across Power and Identities

(

Ross

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | 2 Credits
Wednesdays 3/27 – 5/29, 6:00pm – 7:50pm | DEN 213
Registration SLN: 12571

Course Description:

This course provides a primer on equity concepts, such as identity, power, privilege, and systems of oppression. Through reflective writing and facilitated discussions of curated readings, students explore how their identities impact their effectiveness in communicating across interpersonal difference. Designed for students who seek a welcoming space in which to learn modes of inquiry for iterative self-preparation for collaborations across power and identities.

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COMMLD 525: Brand Values and Creativity

(

Howard

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | 5 Credits
Tuesdays 3/26 – 5/28, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12558

Course Description:

This course will take a close up look at corporate brand values in marketing communications today. Brand values should be timeless and unchanging, but in a constantly fluctuating business environment, is this goal even possible? While high volume video advertising and A/B testing is exploding, paradoxically, messaging of corporate brand values is oftentimes minimized. Marketing today is composed of ever-changing algorithms, transactional communications, and confusing narratives. Should creativity play a bigger role in storytelling in today’s marketplace? Do customers even know what the companies they make purchases from actually stand for values-wise? Does it matter? How can companies still connect emotionally with consumers? Students will ideate a marketing film for a company or nonprofit of their choice. All the while, they’ll be considering deeply how emotion, story, and marketing message function in a project that resonates with the consumer while also reinforcing an organization’s belief system.

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COMMLD 570C: Cross-Sector Collaboration for Social Change

(

Foot

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | 2 Credits
Mondays 3/25 – 5/20, 6:00pm – 8:20pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 21560

Course Description

Social change requires organizations in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to collaborate well. However, organizational leaders face many challenges in doing so. Cross-sector collaboration is a complex communicative process that underlies every aspect of societal change, at multiple levels and across many kinds of difference.  In this course, students will employ concepts from several fields to analyze and practice real-world instances of cross-sector collaboration, and develop the communication skills essential for interorganizational interactions that foster social change.

The centerpiece of the course is a 5-week simulation of collaborative decision-making conducted during class sessions. In the simulation, each student has a role in a (mock) multi-sector task force– situated in a fictional mountain town– that negotiates the creation of a wildfire mitigation safety plan. Through the simulation, students will apply knowledge gained from course readings, and develop skills in assessing other stakeholders’ needs and motives, building alliances, communicating constructively through disagreements, and negotiating multilateral agreements for the collective good.

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COMMLD 570B: Understanding Online Communities and their Data

(

Hansen

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | Meets Research Methods Requirement | 5 Credits
Wednesdays 3/27 – 5/29, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 12574

Course Description

Navigating online communities constitutes a large portion of what we experience as “the internet,” and yet understanding these communities is not always a straightforward or easy task. This course will explore the nature of online communities, different ways we can come to learn about them, and how we should think about handling the data we collect (and indeed, whether to collect it at all). Students will gain a basic social scientific foundation for thinking about communities and the affordances of computer mediated communication before surveying several established approaches to collecting and analyzing data produced by and about specific communities, including surveys, web scraping, and social listening/monitoring. 

Throughout, we will consider the ethical implications and demands of our work as researchers and professionals, emphasizing such values as respect for persons, prevention of harm, and beneficence. Students will conclude the course by developing group research projects using one or more of the methods we’ve learned together to answer a clearly defined research question and presenting their findings within a professional context.

Meets Research Methods Requirement.

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COMMLD 563: Multicultural Marketing: Creating Equitable and Inclusive Communications

(

Park

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

MCCN Elective | 5 Credits
Saturdays 4/6, 4/20, 5/4, 5/18, 6/1, 9:00am – 5:00pm | Online
Registration SLN: 12572

Course Description

This course will take a close look at the evolution of multicultural marketing, industry best practices and foundational strategies related to multicultural communications. We will explore how agencies and companies have adapted, pivoted and transformed the way brands and organizations engage with diverse audiences. You’ll learn how to build marketing campaigns that are rooted in principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. Additionally, we’ll learn how to craft campaigns that are responsive to the increasingly diverse marketplace and ever-changing marketing landscape.

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COMMLD 545 A/B: Engaging Interviews

(

Dalch

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | 2 or 3 Credits
Wednesdays 3/27 – 5/29, 6:00pm – 7:50pm | CMU 302
2-Credit 545A Registration SLN: 21557
3-Credit 545B Registration SLN: 21559

Course Description:

Being a great interviewer takes a combination of preparation, presence, and curiosity––whether that interview is with a subject for a published piece or a fact-finding mission with a client. In this class you will learn how to prepare without over preparing, create rapport with your interview subject, and cultivate curiosity and presence while in an interview––so that you can get what you need while creating an engaging experience for both subject and listener/viewer.

The art of inquiry will be approached through a coaching lens in which the interviewer is both directive and actively listening/responding to allow for discovery. Students will also learn about different scenarios in which interviewing skills will be useful (eg, client consulting, podcasting, video, etc.) with guest speakers from various industries invited to add their unique perspectives.

Section A will be 2 Credits. Section B will be 3 Credits with an additional interview project.

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COMMLD 544: Professional Short-Form Writing

(

Tomasic

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | Meets Professional Writing Requirement | 3 Credits
Wednesdays 3/27 – 5/29, 6:00pm – 8:20pm | CMU 126
Registration SLN: 12568

Course Description

This collaborative hands-on course explores the kind of short-form writing that dominates today’s rapidly evolving professional communications space — the digital space where lines between content and form increasingly blur and where always-on media feeds deliver a mix of advertising, marketing, public relations, human resources, personal brand-building and journalistic reporting and research. It’s a space that presents new writing challenges every day: professional emails, office memos, newsletters, website copy, funding proposals, executive summaries, op-eds, tweets, blurbs, blogs. Much of this material is badly done. Most of it is mediocre. The best of it, though, sings out and demands our attention, demonstrating mastery in the kind of critical thinking and dedicated practice that delivers copy sharply focused and sure in matching voice and material with form and audience. This course is part professional-communications criticism class and part writing workshop. It’s about learning how to identify good writing; it’s about understanding the process that produces good writing; and it’s about practicing that process yourself.

Meets Professional Writing Requirement.

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COMMLD 541: Crisis Communication

(

Hennessey

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | Meets Law & Ethics Requirement | 5 Credits
Mondays 3/25 – 5/20, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | Online
Registration SLN: 12566

Course Description

Crisis communications is about much more than “spin.”  Crises will happen – in government, in the corporate sector, in nonprofits and political campaigns.  What will differentiate you as a communicator is your ability to plan for it, navigate it in real time, and learn something from it.  There is opportunity in crisis.  A crisis forces us to look inside ourselves, at our policies, at our practices, and at how we do our business.

Of course, crisis communications has always been tough; social media and the advent of generative AI have just made it tougher.  We will navigate the latest cultural challenges, from “cancel culture” to messaging in our polarized society.  In this course, we will look at before the crisis (including planning), how we respond during the crisis (this includes the critical crisis communications plan) and after (this is where we cover actions one must take afterwards, including how to repair the damage done).  The class is designed to look at crises in various sectors and will include participation from professionals in the field.

Meets Law and Ethics Requirement.

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COMMLD 540A: Building Teams and Community

(

Baltus

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | 3 Credits
Tuesdays 3/26 – 5/28, 6:00pm – 8:20pm | CMU 242
Registration SLN: 12564

Course Description:

Building meaningful community around your work begins with your team. This course focuses on cultivating community from the inside out, in a series of concentric and overlapping circles. First it addresses ways to bring people together within the workplace and make sure they feel valued through rewarding opportunities to brainstorm, collaborate and critique. Then it explores what it means to set communication norms within an organization and how those norms affect an organization’s culture and identity. Finally, it provides a methodology for deepening connections with external audiences, conducting credible outreach, building load-bearing bridges and inviting widespread engagement that leads to social impact.

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COMMLD 535: Foundations of Audio Storytelling

(

Partnow

)

- 2023-2024 | Current Quarter | Spring 2024

Track Neutral | 5 Credits
Tuesdays 3/26 – 5/28, 6:00pm – 9:50pm | PCAR 492
Registration SLN: 21556

Course Description:

The podcasting industry has surged in recent years, with podcasts also becoming an increasingly important part of marketing and communication campaigns. Since it is the only medium that audiences can consume while engaged in a multitude of other activities, audio storytelling has a unique advantage to inform, entertain and call to action.

This course will teach you how to use audio to tell a powerful story. You will learn how to create your own short sound-rich, nonfiction audio story driven by characters and scenes. You will move through the process of research, reporting, interviewing, writing, editing, and mixing an audio story, as well as pitching a story for radio or podcast. By the end of the class you will have a working knowledge of the basics of audio storytelling and production. You will feel more confident about how to support visual storytelling with audio, as well as how to work with a larger production team on audio projects.

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