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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Philip Edward Howard
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

How is technology put to us in modern democratic politics? Pundits and presidential candidates have declared the advent of ‘politics online.’ From Bob Dole’s clumsy announcement of a campaign website address in 1996, to the coordination of protests by e-mail, and the data-mining efforts of elite lobbyists, new media technologies have become crucial components of modern campaigning. We will use some of the core concepts of deliberative democracy theory to examine the emerging role of new media technologies such as online voting, activist discussion groups, personal web-campaigns, and electronic government. More important, we will review these theories while observing the role of new media technology in the 2004 election season. This course will be run as a workshop in which students are encouraged to share their critical insights on political communication so as to help all of us understand specific theoretical problems in the production and consumption of political culture. This class has several specific goals:

· to draw lessons from specific Internet communication strategies during the 2004 election season in the United States;

· to practice collecting and analyzing raw data, designing websites, and managing relationships with news media;

· to understand the role of information technology in politics, the organization of political campaigns, and the process by which news stories get written and framed;

· to apply these lessons in a civically responsible, service learning project, where the class monitors presidential campaign communications and reports findings to the public on

Although this course has no formal prerequisites, students with several courses in communication or political science will be best prepared for the pace and expectations of this course.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


There are no quizzes, mid-term exams or final exams in this course. Students will be evaluated by their peers, the instructor, and an outside panel of experts in website design and political communication. One-quarter of the grade will be a participation grade assessed by peers with whom you have worked, one-quarter of the grade will be a participation grade assessed by the instructor, and half the grade will be assessed by an outside committee of three faculty, including the instructor (50%). This committee will grade the project, and the grade they assign will count towards everyone’s final grade. In other words, if the website project gets a 3.8, then that grade will be added to the grades for participation. This is the grading schedule:

Week 2 – Participation (5% Peer Evaluation, 5% Instructor Evaluation)

Week 4 – Participation (5% Peer Evaluation, 5% Instructor Evaluation)

Week 6 – Participation (5% Peer Evaluation, 5% Instructor Evaluation)

Week 8 – Participation (5% Peer Evaluation, 5% Instructor Evaluation)

Week 10 – Participation (5% Peer Evaluation, 5% Instructor Evaluation)

Week 10 – Website (50% External Assessment)

Early in the quarter, students as a group will define the standards by which they want their project graded by the external reviewers.


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Philip Edward Howard
Date: 07/18/2005