Integrate theory and content learning by developing and completing a comprehensive communication project.
There were several examples of integrative learning during the master’s coursework. One of the earliest came in COM 610 – “Social Creation of Organizing,” when I used the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House as a demonstration of Kenneth Burke’s “Equipment for Living.” The project, titled The Scoundrel as Leadership Archetype, examined symbols and other rhetorical characteristics of movies that influence viewers’ values and behaviors. For an example, I described the effect that the movie had on me; by presenting the characters as heroic figures who confronted oppressive institutions while exerting their own creativity, the work influenced my development as a leader. Although the choice of text to examine drew guffaws from the instructor and at least one of my classmates, it made for an interesting exercise in learning.
Similarly, the digital project in COM 613 – “Constructing Messages and Audiences” represented integration of theory and content learning. I analyzed the press conference to announce the 2015 firing of Tom Ross as president of the University of North Carolina. Titled “22 Minutes of Doublespeak,” the video applied Peter Berger’s motifs for social constructionism to explain this example of a strategic communications failure.