Fall 2023 - CMNS 130 OL01

Communication and Social Change (3)

Class Number: 1587

Delivery Method: Online


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2023
    Tue, 3:30–6:30 p.m.



An introduction to the forms, theories and institutions of communication as they relate to broader social change, with a focus on the political, economic and regulatory shifts characterizing Canadian and transnational media systems. This course is required for a major, honours or minor in communication.


This course offers an introduction to the forms, technologies, techniques, theories and institutions of communication as they relate to broader social change. Central topics of this course include: the intertwined development of capitalism and colonialism; democracy and mass media; work in the context of information industries; the relationship between media and globalization; and political economy of information.

We will focus on the era of mass communication and some of the more influential approaches to its study to examine the following questions: What is mass communication? What is the role of mass media in a democracy? How has mass media been regulated in the past? What are different political economic and cultural interests in using and understanding mass communication? Then we will explore debates over the ways in which social organization offers and foreclosures opportunities to participate. This will be extended to concerns of contemporary social change in terms of media ownership, efforts to promote social justice, and reflections on communication in an era of disinformation. How can we take responsibility for our self and be the change in the world by forming the communities we want to see? How can we engage the changes affected by others?


1. To introduce some of the key concepts, theoretical approaches and political perspectives used in the study of communication.

2. To provide a foundation for a number of second-year communication courses in the School of Communication.

3. To consider the role played by communication within broader social change.

4. To develop the capacity to critically assess, and intervene within, the media environment.


  • Weekly Reading Journals (5x 4%) 20%
  • Midterm 1 - Week 6 (Oct 11) 25%
  • Midterm 2 - Week 10 (Nov 8) 25%
  • Final Take Home Essay (Due Dec 8) 30%



This link is my quick go to for how to cite. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/


Weekly Reading Journals

The goal of these journals is to keep you responsible for the readings and engaged in the weekly themes. It is also a means for me to be aware of what you, collectively, are gravitating to or where there might be challenges in comprehension -so a means to keep me accountable to you.

You are responsible for 5 journal entries. They will be due on the Friday of the week indicated. Journal 1 is due week 3. Journal 2 is due week 5. Journal 3 is due week 8. Journal 4 is due week 11. Journal 5 is due week 13.

These journals are out of 4. You may write on any of the texts in the time period covered by the journal (ie Journal 1 includes readings from week 2 and week 3; Journal 4 includes week 9 and week 11 as week 10 is a midterm). You may write on more than one of the texts but remember to aim for focus. There should be 2-3 sentences of summary identifying the main thesis and how it is defended. After this the goal is to move away from regurgitation and move into critical analysis. What made the arguments convincing or not? What made the text dense/easy and what are particular areas that could use more clarification (what do you suspect is meant and why are you unsure)? How might these arguments be applied, or what applications might challenge the theories? Show us that you did the reading and are actively “listening” by doing something with the ideas.

50% accuracy- You demonstrate understanding and appropriate use of the ideas

50% insight- You provide reasons for your curiosity with any concerns with the text, ask poignant questions, synthesize the knowledge with other sources/academic disciplines, demonstrate the ideas with greater clarity via example etc.


There are two midterms in this course. These 2-hour exams will cover all course material (readings, lectures, and tutorials) for weeks 2-5 (Midterm 1) and weeks 7-9 (Midterm 2). They will consist of short answer, multiple choice and essay questions. The purpose of these exams is to give you an indication both of how you are doing so far and what to expect as far as the final exam is concerned.

These midterms will be posted at Weds 8pm on the week of the exam on canvas you will have 24 hours to get to it otherwise you will have missed it. The exam will be timed to give you two hours to complete.

Final Exam

The final exam will be a take home essay of 1200-1500 words. Questions will be provided with the week 13 lecture.



Weekly readings will be made available on Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.