Spring 2023 - CMNS 130 D100

Communication and Social Change (3)

Class Number: 1111

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Thu, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 22, 2023
    Sat, 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 Anthropocene and ecology of media; cyberwar and digital mobilization; work in the context of information industries; the relationship between media and globalization; algorithmic cultures 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.


  • Class attendance and Participation in tutorial discussions 20%
  • Midterm 1 - Week 6 (Feb 9) 20%
  • Midterm 2 - Week 12 (March 16) 20%
  • Final Exam 40%



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 8-11 (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.

Final Exam

Part of this 3-hour final exam will cover the material of the weeks 13-14. Another part of it will be designed for you to demonstrate your ability to synthetize and bring in conversation the material of the entire course.



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