9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Mondays and Wednesdays
Steinman S204
Fall 2006
Textbooks & Readings / Course Description and Purpose / Course Objectives / Course Policies / Assignments and Projects / Grading / Readings and Resources / Class Schedule

Textbooks & Readings (required): (Return to top of syllabus)
    Potter, W. James. (2005) Media Literacy, 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
    Readings and Resources list in syllabus and those distributed and suggested throughout the semester.

Course Description and Purpose: (Return to top of syllabus)

We construct much of our knowledge and opinions of foreign cultures from reports provided bythe mass media. Analysis of the media, its role and its content, coupled with investigations into other cultures will be addressed in this Freshman Seminar. The goals for this seminar include:

  • raising students' awareness and interest in global issues;
  • raising students' awareness of the media's ability to control the information we (Americans)use to form perspectives on international issues; and
  • examining mass communications within an international context.

Course Objectives: (Return to top of syllabus)
  1. Introduce students to the academic expectations of college life. This class will introduce students to the academic expectations of college life. These include time management, study skills, class performance expectations, group participation skills, integrity issues, and college resources. Class and peer counselor discussions will provide an opportunity for active class participation in these issues.

  2. Engage in the practice of critical analysis and synthesis. Critical analysis and synthesis of new ideas will be practiced through reading assignments, class discussions and peer groupdiscussions, and formal papers presented in this class. Reaction/opinion papers will require students to integrate old and new concepts concerning the discussion topics with their personal impressions. The semester project paper will provide a culminating activity of this process of critical analysis and synthesis as students create a unique contribution through an investigation of an international issue.

  3. Establish writing as a principal means by which the educated person thinks, understands, and communicates. Reviewing scholarly articles, broadcast and print media coupled with the writing of opinion papers and the semester project paper will establish the importance of written communications as the primary means by which educated people think, understand and communicate. Semester project paper topic will be approved by instructor. Through the class, students will be introduced to the APA style as a standard documentation style.

  4. Develop communication skills -- reading, listening, speaking. Communication skills will be practiced and improved through the exploration of the course materials. Students will be required to read a combination of scholarly articles, mass media journalistic articles and personal correspondence. Students will practice critical reading skills when comparing and preparing to discuss these divergent styles of writing. Listening skills will be practiced in class discussion and peer group discussion sessions. Also, listening skills will be practiced and evidenced through reaction papers, in which the student will review experiences such as presenters and class/group discussions. Speaking skills will be practiced through the semester project paper presentation. Student will learn to condense and convert the content of a written term paper into a formal oral presentation. Critical elements such as timing, visual aids and speaking skills will be addressed during the class discussion sessions.

  5. Explore the methods of a particular body of knowledge and/or discipline. The body of knowledge that students will explore in this course will include that of media literacy and criticism. Through this course students will be introduced to eight key concepts of media literacy. This model to media literacy "seeks to empower citizenship, to transform citizens' passive relationship to media into an active, critical engagement capable of challenging the traditions and structures of a privatized commercial media culture, and thereby find new avenues of citizen speech and discourse." (Wally Bowen, Citizens for Media Literacy, 1996.) The media are a broad, amorphous field, extending not just from traditional media such as newspapers and magazines to television and film, but also now encompassing many areas of popular culture such as new technologies like the Internet. Anyone attempting to make sense of this area needs a clear conceptual framework that will allow for discussion of a variety of complex and interrelated factors. A central concept to the media literacy theory and model is that all communication is a construction of reality. An understanding of this concept is the starting point for a critical relationship to the media.

  6. Establish the library as a major repository of knowledge. The library will be the source of the majority of the materials needed to develop the overview of the semester project paper and where the bulk of the resources for this course will be located. This includes scholarly journals, books and newspapers. Other resources that will compliment the library as the primary repository of knowledge will include broadcast newscasts (radio and television) and internet resources. These "live" resources should serve as examples to support the knowledge documented through traditional literature review processes.

  7. Explain and establish standards of academic integrity. The College's Integrity Code, copyright laws, and personal codes of ethics will be discussed and applied to all course work (papers, exams and projects).

  8. Foster an attitude of enthusiasm and a genuine intellectual curiosity toward learning. The semester project will engage students in an original investigation that will integrate their creativity with an academic pursuit that shows that they can create new knowledge from their own experiences and investigation.

  9. Include a component that engages students in researching a subject, gathering and evaluating information, organizing and writing a paper, and using proper documentation. A standard documentation style may be any recognized format, as long as the student uses one consistently. Each student will complete a semester project, which will include an investigation of an international issue and the media's attention to that issue. A typical model for this investigation may include:

    • defining the issue or question through a formal review of literature pertaining to the issue and/or a current event.
    • developing an independent investigation of the issue or current event and the media's influence. For this the student may choose to conduct a current content analysis of media coverage of the issue to contrast with current public knowledge of the issue. This would require the student to follow current media coverage and to develop a means for assessing current public knowledge. (This segment of the investigation should also include the student's interaction with the e-mail pen-friend.) and
    • drawing conclusions from these inquiries. From this analysis, the student may draw conclusions about the media's influence on the public's opinion and knowledge of the international issue.

Course Policies: (Return to top of syllabus)
Attendance: It is expected that all students attend every class and be on time. Absences severely handicap the learning process and reflect on the student's ability to meet deadlines. Being late for class interrupts the momentum of the class and distracts other students.

A student may miss three class sessions without penalty; however, on each successive absence, a grade reduction will be made from the course final grade.
Student athletes should discuss their schedules individually with the instructor. There may be occasions where the absence of a student athlete will not be permitted.

Submitting Assignments: Unless otherwise stated, assignments and class exercises are to be handed in during the class. Work assigned for overnight will be due at the beginning of the next class meeting, unless otherwise agreed. No late work will be accepted. Make up work must be agreed upon before an excused absence. Assignments, quizzes or tests missed as a result of absence will only be made up by prior arrangement with the instructor. Without this arrangement, a grade of 0 will be given.

Written Work: All work must be typed with the exception of in-class exercises and journals. All written submissions must be type-written or printer generated, double spaced, 12 point type, Times font, one-inch margins on all edges, with proper use of style notation for page numbers and sections.

Exams: Exams will not be given at any other time than when originally scheduled. Only in extreme circumstances will exams be rescheduled.

Academic Dishonesty: All work submitted by a student must be the student's own work. When quoting other sources, the source used must be properly credited. Failure to do so will result in a grade of 0 for the assignment.

Student Disabilities: If you have a documented disability and need reasonable accommodations to fully participate in course activities or meet course requirement, you must (1) contact the Director of Disability Services, Shirley Deichert, in the Center of Student Success, BSC 288, (717) 361-1227, deichesa@etown.edu, AND (2) meet with me, the instructor, within two weeks of receiving a copy of the accommodation letter from Disability Services to discuss your accommodation needs and their implementation.

Assignments and Projects: (Return to top of syllabus)

A bound journal should be kept in which the student records discussions, impressions and reactions to readings and other assignments, and thoughts about the semester project progression. The journal should be kept so that it may be shared with others during peer review.

Reaction/Opinion Papers (a.k.a., Newswise)
A number of reaction/opinion papers will be written during the course of the semester. These assignments will consist of a brief (3-4 pages) discussion of your reaction or opinion to some aspect or subject covered in classroom discussion, reading assignments, or colloquium assignments. These papers may be exchanged with fellow class members for peer review and discussion. Any reaction paper may be revised and resubmitted within a week of the date of return. The higher grade will be recorded. The first paper will be evaluated during a workshop. Success on these assignments will be judged on criteria including quality of writing, organization, rigor of content, and critical thinking.

Semester Project (Presentation and Paper)
Each student will write and present a research paper on a topic of interest related to the course topic: media literacy, foreign cultures through the American mass media lens. This paper will be presented in a condensed form to the class on an assigned day. The research paper will be between 20 and 25 pages with a bibliography and prepared in APA format. The formal presentation will be 8 to 10 minutes in length. Details of this assignment and discussion of topics will be given as the semester progresses.

Class Content Analysis Project
As a committee of the whole, the class will come together to conduct an in-depth content analysis of news media coverage of international issues. This project will be defined in class and will require extensive out of class work by each individual student.

Grading: (Return to top of syllabus)
The final grade for the course will be determined in the following manner:
Reaction/Opinion Papers20%A95-100C-70-72
Semester Project Outline5%A-90-94D+67-69
Semester Project Paper & Presentation20%B+87-89D63-66
Final Exam10%B-80-82F0-59
Class Participation10%C+77-79
Class Content Analysis Project15%C73-76

Readings and Resources (a starter list we will add to throughout the semester): (Return to top of syllabus)

Lippmann, Walter. (1922). The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads, Public Opinion, Macmillan Co.: New York, pp. 3-32.

The Pew Research Center (2006, June 22). The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims view each other. Pew Global Attitudes Project. Available online: http://pewglobal.org/

A World of Possibilities (multiple programs). The Main Street Media Project. Available online: http://www.aworldofpossibilities.com/.

  • World Wide Wiki: The clamor and chorus of Citizen Journalism
  • Smothering Thoughts, Swallowing Tongues: Censorship and self-censorship in the American media
  • Global Media and the Conversational Commons: Communication from many to many
  • Media as Mediator: Transforming conflict into communication

Otellini, Paul. (2006, January 5). Keynote address to the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show. CES, Las Vegas, NV

The reading materials for the course will include traditional mass media resources and new media resources. Assignments will require students to keep current through the use of international, national, and local newspapers, radio broadcasts, television news, as well as Internet resources (web magazines, news services, radio and television sources).

Some On-line International News Sources (English language) (Return to top of syllabus)
I'm sure you will develop more links as the semester progresses. We will share these from class to class period so others may benefit from your research.

International Herald Tribune
National Public Radio Online
BBC News
AJR NewsLink

Tentative Class Schedule (Return to the top of syllabus) Refer to the class schedule listed in the printed syllabus distributed in class or the PDF found on my website.