Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Syllabi Comparison

With my major research interest grounded in political communication, I chose three different political communication courses for the syllabus comparison; two offered in SJMC and Political Science Department at University of Wisconsin-Madison and one from Korea University. Although the first two courses are cross-listed between SJMC and Political Science Department, comparing how two different disciplines could shape the same course differently seemed intriguing.

JMCO715 Political Communication (Korea University, Journalism and Mass Communication) (*The reading list is in a separate file, please request if interested)

Course Description/Purpose

While J829 set out from the description that the course will focus on socio-psychological approach to media consumption and its effect on and relationship with individual’s psychologies, PS829 addresses it takes an expansive definition of political communication to emphasize topics as political conversation and deliberation, as well as those related to mass media. JMCO715 seems similar to J829 in that it also sets out to review the relationships among the media, democracy, and citizenship, putting relatively stronger emphasis on mass media and individuals’ psychologies.

Course Topics 

Looking at how weekly course topics were organized, there were interesting differences between the three courses. While sharing some of the basic concepts and theories in the field (e.g., framing, agenda-setting, priming effects of mass media on political attitudes or social evaluations, relationship between news and political knowledge, cues in news), the most apparent difference was in that many more weeks were devoted to the topic of interpersonal and inter-group political communication (or conversation) and the theory of deliberation in PS829 than J829 and JMCO715. In dealing with this topic, PS 829 also began with the concept of public sphere and deliberation (Jurgen Habermas), which was missing in other two courses. 

The second biggest difference was how PS 829 did not have any topics regarding possible effects of new media (internet or journalism 2.0) on political attitude and knowledge formation. 
These differences were somewhat expected, since political communication course offered in journalism, mass communication, or media studies disciplines, would be putting relatively more emphasis on how political communication may differ in relation to different types of media and their contents, while political science’s focus would be on questions regarding politics and communication in general.

Course Readings 

Course readings were pretty similar across all courses, ‘specially for classic concerns which both political scientists and scholars from communication field have long been grappling with (e.g., regarding media’s effect in formation of political knowledge, media effects on political judgement such as priming, framing, agenda-setting). However, the major difference was in how PS 829’s readings included more classic readings that introduces the conception of theories and points of larger debate from critical perspectives (e.g., Calhoun (1992)’s Introduction: Habermas and the Public Sphere, Sanders (1997)’s Against Deliberation), JMCO715 and J829 readings include more of recent empirical studies that seems to engage in debates in more micro and individual-level (e.g., Mutz (2006)’s hearing the other side, Huckfeld et al (1995)’s Political environments, cohesive social groups and the communication of public opinion). 

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