Below are courses that have a topic determined by the instructor. The full list of course offerings is available on WebReg.

Go to for more important enrollment 
and registration information for 2016-2017

For course descriptions please visit the UCSD catalog at:

Junior Seminars

PREREQUISITES: Junior Standing and MUST HAVE TAKEN COMM 10 and AT LEAST 1 of the COMM 100 courses

COMM 190
Instructor: Olga Vasquez
Title: Indigenous perspectives on learning and community
This course examines if and how indigenous perspectives on learning and community have been built into an innovative pedagogy that attempts to reflect the will and the intellectual resources of one of the 18 Native American Reservations in San Diego County.  Topics of focus include the distinction between Native and mainstream pedagogy, the experience of Native youth in mainstream education and the efforts of local tribes to provide educational alternatives to their youth.  Students will have the opportunity to conduct archival research, examine extant data on learning activities designed for this particular program over the last 16 years and engage with education leaders at the reservation, both online and at a course session held at the community of San Pasqual.

COMM 190
Instructor: Dan Hallin
The Mediatization of Health and Medicine
Description: In this seminar we will explore media representations of health and medicine and the role of media and communication in shaping the health knowledge and the health care system. Traditionally, the role of the media has been seen narrowly, in terms of transmitting scientific knowledge to lay audiences. In fact, however, media play much wider and more active roles in the complex process by which knowledge about health and medicine is constituted and the cultural meanings of health and medicine formed. Journalists mediate between various actors and perspectives that contend to shape health policy and behaviors; the internet transforms patients’ relations to physicians and to each other; public relations professionals become part of the medical research process and physicians play a central role in television news. We will look at this process of mediatization of health and medicine-- and medicalization of media-- from many different angles.

COMM 190
Instructor: David Serlin
Title: Touch as Communciation 
This course explores human touch as a medium of communication and as a mode of interactive engagement that challenges forms of sensory communication (such as sight and sound) typically associated with technology-based media. Students will examine touch within various scientific, social, and political contexts, and develop projects that put critical thinking about touch and tactility at the center of analysis and interpretation.

COMM 190
Instructor: John McMurria
Title: Reality TV & Cultural Politics
This seminar considers reality television as a significant site of cultural politics in the new millennium. We examine reality television as a product of changing dynamics in the television industries characterized by globalization, deregulation and channel proliferation. Reality television is comprised of hybrid genres such as the gamedoc (Survivor) and the docusoap (The Real World) that blur the boundaries between documentary and dramatic narrative, and between educational non-fiction and fictional entertainment. As such, reality TV draws power from its claims to the “authentic” while also relying on dramatic formats and narrative constructions to engage viewers. We examine how these hybrid genres, and others like the makeover/lifestyle genre, engage issues of surveillance, cultural citizenship, taste hierarchies, and the confluence of celebrity and everyday life. Students will research and present term papers that explore these and other issues

COMM 190 
Instructor: Boatema Boateng
Title: Fibers of Communication: The Language and Politics of Fabrics, Clothing, and other Material Culture
Why are leather jackets associated with masculinity and toughness? Why are quilts associated with family and comfort? Why is kente cloth associated with Black pride? How did women around the world turn knitting and other needlework into a political movement? Drawing on scholarship in areas like material culture, critical legal studies, Black studies and gender studies, this course examines different kinds of material culture in order to understand their history as well as their social, cultural and political significance. It also provides students with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of the history, culture, and politics of an item of material culture of their choice.


Intermediate Electives - Topics

COMM 101T - Topics in Production
Instructor: Patty Ahn
Title: Media and Social Movements
This workshop-style seminar examines how contemporary social justice movements are utilizing different web-based media platforms, genres and strategies to articulate their various narratives of political struggle. We will look at different case studies–like the Movement for Black Lives, #not1more, and anti-violence campaigns like #SurvivedandPunished, placing them within a broader cultural and historical context along the way. Meanwhile, students will into practice the different storytelling and story-sharing strategies we examine along the way, culminating with their collective participation in a live campaign in collaboration with a select community partner.

Advanced Electives - Topics

COMM 132 - Advanced Topics in Communication
Instructor: Carl McKinney
Title: Sex Communication
We’ve all heard that “sex sells.” In this course we examine the organization of some of the many industries that produce cultural goods and services as commodities, focusing not only on how these cultural products are often sexualized but also on how sex and sexuality are themselves produced as commodities. Looking at the film, music, gaming, advertising, sports, pornography, and personals industries, we will explore how the production of “sexual commodities” is organized, how these products are distributed, and the impact of the organization and distribution of sexual goods and services on the conditions of work and on the cultural landscapes of our everyday lives.


COGR 275: Topics in Communication
Instructor: Christo Sims
Title: Intellectual Craftwork
This seminar treats academic writing as a form of craftwork. The seminar combines a workshop component with close readings of expertly made works. For the workshop component, students will develop a writing project that is aimed, at least in part, toward other academics. A project can be a qualifying exam paper, a journal article, a thesis or book chapter, or, with instructor approval, a less conventional form of academic knowledge production. For the close reading component, we will focus not so much on the arguments of texts as on how texts are assembled. Throughout, we will consider how craft practices are learned, what barriers can interfere with the learning of a craft, and how such obstacles can be circumvented when they are (inevitably) encountered.