Fall 2019 - CMNS 425 D100

Applied Communication for Social Issues (4)

Class Number: 3409

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    75 units, including CMNS 221; and one of CMNS 201 (or 260), CMNS 202 (or 262) or CMNS 261.



An advanced seminar in applied communication that focuses on the research and strategic design of media messages, campaigns and programs for public awareness, education, and social change. This course involves the application of theories and approaches in critical media analysis to the tasks of media design and media use for public understanding, engagement and participation around social issues.


This course examines the theories, methods and practices of social issues communication.  The work of social issues communication involves the application of public communication and media analysis to the design, strategy, and implementation of communication planning, programs, and campaigns around social issues.  Social issues communication is about sustained public engagement, and is driven by the principles and objectives of social change, and focuses on the strategic design and use of media.  Above all, social issues communication research and design proceeds from a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the nature of the media environment—the forms, the content, the audiences, and the strategies of media communication. This course will explore new ways to develop social issues messages in the complex and compelling commercial media environment.  

Themes and issues addressed in this course include:  communication as action and intervention; public participation and the media; communication and social change; advocacy and social marketing; advertising and social change; corporate social responsibility; social media and social change; activism and digital culture; public relations; and others.  A wide range of case studies will be examined.  

CODE OF ETHICS AND PRACTICES: Student researchers in this class will inform their subjects of the purpose of their study, ensure that all participation is voluntary, and that all information and identities are confidential.  You will fully identify the School of Communication, and the course instructor, to all subjects.  Recording technology cannot be used without the consent of the subject.  All data will be transcribed using only the first name, or other identifier, for the subject, and any tape recordings will be erased to eliminate verbal identification of the subjects.   


  • Seminar Reports/Contribution 20%
  • Presentation (foundation research, design proposal) 30%
  • Final Project (includes the accompanying project compendium) 50%


The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades.  In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline.
 [Note: as of May 1, 2009, the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]

Note:  A minimum 2.25 CMNS CGPA, and 2.00 overall CGPA, and approval as a communication student is required for entry into most communication upper division courses.



All course materials, detailed syllabus, report/presentation/project guidelines, media and website links will be available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html