Department of Communication
270 UCB, Hellems 96
Boulder, CO 80309
303-492-8411 (fax)

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This page lists upper-division courses with special or changing topics. The selection of all Communication courses being offered this semester, including upper division courses, can be found at


COMM 3000-001
Katherine Clark
Issues in Communication: Environment Communication

In this course, we will examine environmental communication with an emphasis on the public sphere.  We will consider how the environment and environmentalism is conceptualized and communicated and how this influences the relationship between individuals, society and nature.  Taking a closer look at contemporary environmental politics, the course explores the diversity within the US environmental movement noting the widely divergent frames, messaging and tactics used by different elements of the movement.  We will critically evaluate the varied choices of environmental communicators, and their opponents, with attention to the challenges faced by the movement. Those challenges include communicating complex scientific information about climate change, confronting climate change ‘deniers,’ competing for media and public attention, and ‘greenwashing.’

COMM 3000-002
Leah Sprain
Issues in Communication: Inclusive Community Design

Our communities face complex social problems that demand effective ways of working together. This class is devoted to learning how to design vibrant opportunities for public participation and action in the face of differences, multiple stakeholders, and social inequity. We will examine a continuum of public participation practices, from providing information through consultation, active involvement, collaboration, and empowerment.

COMM 4220-001
Karen Tracy
Senior Seminar: Functions of Communication
Communication and the Justice System

The purpose of this class is to develop students’ understanding of communicative practices and problems in the justice system. We will examine communication-sensitive actions in the judicial system—the law, policing, and corrections. In the seminar we will discuss emotion labor by judges, 9-1-1 operators, and corrections staff; questioning strategies during interrogations, trials and appeals; negotiating practices in plea bargaining and in crisis/hostage situations; storytelling and deliberation in juries; and the management of face in community policing and during crisis standoffs. We will examine the structure of a typical trial and the alternative dispute resolution processes of mediation and restorative justice. Our class goal is to understand how the justice system uses different forms of communication and to consider how the content and design of communicative practices affect the delivery of justice, both in desired and problematic ways. An especially important part of this class is the fieldwork component. In addition to visits from experts and several short field observations, you and several other students will select a site to observe for 6-8 hours. A final presentation will be given based on this observation.

COMM 4220-002
Marlia Banning
Senior Seminar: Functions of Communication
Environmental Communication

Topial seminar on the functions of communication across interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts. Reviews current theory and research on topics such as communication and conflict, persuasion, and ethical dimensions of communication practices.

COMM 4220-002
Jamie Skersky
Senior Seminar: Functions of Communication
Sports, Communication, Society

This course examines the communicative, historical and cultural aspects of “sport” in contemporary American society.  Thinking critically about sport as a social institution, readings and discussions will explore the intersections of power, gender/sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and national identity.

COMM 4300-001
Bryan Taylor
Senior Seminar: Rhetoric
Rhetoric & Culture of Security

Focuses on the role of rhetoric in informing and persuading audiences concerning apparent threats (e.g., terrorism) posed to the persons, objects, and conditions which they value, and concerning the use of material and symbolic resources (e.g., drones) required to respond to those threats. Focuses on the rhetorical construction of identities required for the creation, maintenance, and transformation of political forms (e.g., the nation-state, international alliances, etc.) and processes (e.g., diplomacy, deterrence, etc.) required for the provision of security.

COMM 4300-002
John Jackson
Senior Seminar: Rhetoric
Rhetorical History of Racism

Reviews current theory and research on topics such as rhetoric and publics, rhetoric as an interpretive social science, and rhetoric of social movements and political campaigns.

COMM 4510-002
Ruthier Hickerson
Senior Seminar: Interpersonal Communication
The Dark Side of Relationships

Reviews current theory and research on topics such as strategic interaction, relationship formation and maintenance, and identity and self-presentation.

COMM 4510-001
Cindy White
Senior Seminar: Interpersonal Communication
Communication in Intimate Relationships

This seminar is designed to provide an opportunity for in-depth consideration of how we communicate in relationships where intimacy and commitment are defining characteristics.  We will examine a variety of relationships, such as dating relationships, marriage, family, and friendship.  One of the key issues we will think and talk about is what it means for a relationship to be intimate and how communication practices help us define intimacy in different types of relationships.  We will explore how relationships develop and how they can be managed effectively; we will also discuss how relationships are changing as a result of social changes.  This course is an important part of higher education because it encourages us to reflect on the relationships that are such a central, but taken-for-granted, part of our daily lives.

COMM 4600-001
Jody Jahn
Senior Seminar: Organizational Communication
Organizational Socialization 

This course offers an intensive analysis of current theory and research on issues crucial to organizational membership. Topics include choosing occupational paths, joining and leaving organizations, organizational socialization and assimilation, and organizational identification.

COMM 4600-002
Timothy Kuhn
Senior Seminar: Organizational Communication
Indetity & Meaning in Work

The work we do–in paid and unpaid settings–is central in constructing who we are. At the same time, who we are (or who we tell ourselves we are) influences the options we consider regarding work. Some claim that work is “just a job,” while others seek a sense of meaning and significance in their work–but neither perspective denies that work practices, professions, co-workers, and work settings shape personal identities. This course will investigate those sources of influence, paying particular attention to how meaning (and the lack of it) is related to organizational action, ethics, and responsibility, to personal relationships, as well as to how meaningfulness is associated with blurring boundaries between professional and the private domains.