My Political Communication Syllabus for This Semester
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
This semester at American University, I am teaching an advanced undergraduate/graduate seminar on Political Communication. Needless to say, it's the right time and the right city to be teaching this course. I've included a link to the the syllabus which contains hyperlinks to many of the assigned readings.
Below is the course description:
This course reviews major areas of research in political communication, connecting this scholarly work to the insights of leading political strategists and journalists. General topics covered include:
A) How political communication and various forms of media shape civic life, elections, and policy decisions, and what this means for the health of democratic institutions and decision-making.
B) How citizens, journalists, and elected officials make sense of and use political messages. Specifically how news, advertising, and entertainment media shape political perceptions, emotions, and behavior and what this means for effective communication strategy.
C) How micro-targeting and "on the ground" recruitment strategies are either complementing or replacing traditional campaign activities and mobilization efforts.
D) How soft news and late night comedy along with blogs and social networking sites have shaped campaign strategy and news coverage; how citizens use this political information, and what it means for both campaign strategy but also civic life.
E) And as special topics, how these themes apply to the debate over the war in Iraq and to the nature and future of America's youngest citizens, in other words, citizens like you.
The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think
The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.
The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.
- The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
- Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
- The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
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