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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kirsten A Foot
COM 407
Seattle Campus

Communication Technology and Politics

Employs some core concepts of political communication and theories of democracy to examine the emerging role of information and communication technologies in candidate and issue campaigning; online voting; protest and advocacy movements; law-making and electronic governance in the United States and internationally. Offered: jointly with POL S 451.

Class description


Pundits and presidential candidates have declared the advent of ‘politics online.’ From political discussions on Usenet to Bob Dole’s clumsy announcement of a campaign Web site address in 1996, to the coordination of protests via e-mail and the Web, and the data-mining efforts of elite lobbyists, digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become crucial components of contemporary politics. We will use some of the core concepts of political communication and theories of democracy to examine the emerging role of ICTs in candidate and issue campaigning, protest and advocacy movements, law-making and electronic governance—both within the U.S. and internationally.

Student learning goals

Here are some of the questions that the course will prepare you to answer:

•How are ICTs currently being employed in democratic politics in the U.S. and internationally?

•How are electoral, advocacy, rule-making and governance practices changing in relation to the use of ICTs?

•How are power relations between political actors and the political playing field shifting due to ICTs?

•What opportunities for civic engagement do current ICT practices afford?

•In what ways do ICTs expand or diminish the power/role of the citizen, and how might ICTs alter relationships between citizens and government?

General method of instruction

This course will be run as a workshop in which students will help lead discussions, and be required to engage as participant-observers in a candidate and issue campaign of their choice, as well as a policy deliberation process, then share their critical insights on the role of ICTs in those campaigns and processes so as to help all of us understand how specific theoretical problems are manifested concretely. Current political sites and Web archives from U.S. elections 2000-2008 will serve as resources for analyses of how Internet-based ICTs have been used in the context of recent political events.

Recommended preparation

This course is offered in conjunction with the UW Honors program. Non-UW honors students with a GPA of at least 3.5 are eligible to receive an add code, when available. To be included on the waitlist for an add code, contact Diana Smith at with your GPA and waitlist request.

Class assignments and grading

The following 5 books are required for the course and should be acquired by 10/2/2010; used copies are available from several online distributors: 1) Andrew Chadwick, Internet Politics: States, Citizens, and New Communication Technologies, Oxford, 2006. 2) Andrew Chadwick and Philip Howard (Eds), Handbook of Internet Politics, Routledge, hardcover 2008/paperback 2010. 3) Kirsten Foot & Steven Schneider, Web Campaigning, MIT Press, 2006. 4) Philip Howard, New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen, Cambridge University Press, 2005. 5) Steven E. Schier, By Invitation Only: The Rise of Exclusive Politics in the United States, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.

Course grades will be based on informed participation in class discussion, 3 online assignments, 2 essays, and a final research project/paper.

•Participation in class discussions, including lab exercises and generating questions for discussion. Expect to be called on to discuss assigned readings at any time during class. Your level of preparation and ability to respond coherently and constructively will be reflected in your participation grade •Three online assignments: oCritique of candidate Web sites oParticipant observation in online issue advocacy/protest oParticipant observation in e-rulemaking process •Two literature-based essays •A final research project in which you will work in groups of 2-3 to produce a research paper, a political Web site, or an online collection and analysis project. Each group will make an oral presentation of their project to the class.

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 Kirsten A Foot
Date: 09/22/2010