Summer 2024 - CMNS 130 OL01

Communication and Social Change (3)

Class Number: 1893

Delivery Method: Online


  • Course Times + Location:




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 20%
  • Midterm 1 25%
  • Midterm 2 25%
  • Final take home essay 30%


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). For further information see:



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:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term 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.