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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kristin Louise Gustafson
B CUSP 115
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core II: Individuals and Society

Addresses an important social issue through an interdisciplinary perspective, continues to build creative and critical skills, and focuses on the relationship between the individual and society. Offered: W.

Class description

Students in this course take the time to examine credibility as it relates to journalism and media. This important social issue is too often discussed without depth -- as if the answer is whether journalists or media are credible. Instead, we will use an in-depth and interdisciplinary investigation to explore the three intertwined notions of credibility, journalism, and media in a way that encourages greater context and complexity. Using case studies, students will work together and independently on research projects that culminate in presentations and papers. We will build on a diverse set of research to consider how the notion of media as balanced, fair, objective, or credible is a notion that is socially constructed and changes over time. We will consider economic and societal forces that shape these constructions. Students will look more closely at how and when journalism producers and users deploy notions of credibility, and why blogging and activist journalism may apply credibility standards differently than mainstream journalism. Students will look at this issue from several perspectives, including media content, production, and audience. Credibility is a notion addressed across disciplines, and so the course would help students contribute to similar discussions within sciences, ethics, philosophy, and psychology.

Student learning goals

Acquire a basic understanding of credibility as it relates to journalism and media and of social constructions of media balance, fairness, and objectivity.

Learn and practice communication skills, including critical readings of scholarly sources and written/online/visual/oral presentation.

Learn and practice successful collaboration skills, including team building, active listening, communication, peer review, time management, and organization.

Learn and practice information literacy competency that focuses on sources and evidence and includes how to identify, access, interpret, evaluate, and create information. Specifically: (1) Reinforce and practice basic catalog, database and internet search methods; (2) Explore specialized subject encyclopedias in print and online; (3) Read, evaluate, interpret sources (e.g., newspapers, websites, scholarly articles, books); and (4) Practice the ethical use of information, including appropriately attributing others’ work

Learn and practice media literacy skills, including being able to articulate how media are constructed, interpreted, and critiqued.

General method of instruction

Projects, Role Playing Exercises, Peer Evaluation, Presentations, Exams, Reflection Essays. This class uses a blend of face-to-face, online, and out-of-class learning experiences designed to engage students in active, self-directed learning. There is a significant amount of online discussion that students contribute to and six class periods when students meet outside of class to work on projects or research. We will use UW Catalyst tools including Go-Post. Students are expected to take responsibility and manage their time well. The time spent on all the activities should enhance learning significantly.

Recommended preparation

Come with an eagerness to answer these questions: • What is (or has been) the notion of media as balanced, fair, objective, or credible? How has it been constructed? Changed over time? Been shaped by economic and societal forces? Applied by journalism producers (bloggers, mainstream journalists, activists)? And been experienced by users/consumers/audiences through media content? • What are examples (case studies) of how journalists/media address credibility issues? How can students work individually and together to find answers through research projects? • What is considered ethical use of information within higher education and within journalism? In what ways are these applications of ethics the same or different?

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Kristin Louise Gustafson
Date: 11/11/2011