Course Exam: AU Courses, up close – SOCI 378: Media Construction of Social Movements & Issues

Course Exam: AU Courses, up close – SOCI 378: Media Construction of Social Movements & Issues

Katie Patrick began writing course reviews for The Voice in late 2003, and her column has now become a regular feature with a review or two appearing each month as her schedule allows. The column has grown from a brief overview of new courses to more in-depth coverage including tutor interviews. This column, published on June 29th, features one of the many brand new courses offered by AU this year.

SOCI 378: Media Construction of Social Movements & Issues

Have you ever wondered how many of the social norms prevalent in today’s Canadian society were formed? Have you ever been curious about the extent to which the media has influenced society? If you’ve considered these things, then Athabasca University’s new course, SOCI 378 (Media Construction of Social Movements & Issues), is for you!

A 3-credit course in the Social Sciences, SOCI 378 provides an “overview of the critical literature on media coverage of social movements,” writes course professor and author Dr Ella Haley. She indicates that course topics like SOCI 378 are becoming more popular, “particularly after 9/11 and…the invasion of Iraq,” as people are “questioning whose interests the mainstream media serve.” Dr. Haley designed SOCI 378 so students will be able to “examine the significance of mass media in the world today” and be introduced to the “growing concentration of media ownership and the role of propaganda” in today’s society. Using the knowledge gained from this background information, students then proceed to critique “how mainstream media shape and influence how we speak and write about social movements” says Dr. Haley, as well as “how social movements are fighting back.”

Media Construction of Social Movements and Issues is divided into three parts. Part one, which consists of six units, introduces students to how society is shaped by media influences. It discusses concepts in critical analysis, as well as the relationship between social movements and democracy. Students will also discuss the effects of propaganda on social norms. The second part familiarizes students with theories prevalent in the mass media over seven units. First, students learn about effects research as they examine prevailing theories of media and social interactions, including the Functionalist theory. Canadian content is interwoven into the course as students take a look at influential Canadians in the mass media movement like Grant, McLuhan and Menzies. Culture-related issues and feminism are also discussed. Finally, the third part, which consists of six units, discusses in detail how social norms and issues are influenced by the mass media. Here students learn about the movements prevalent in today’s society, including the environmentalist movement and how this has affected our perception of our earth, the labour movement, gender equality issues, and issues surrounding war and peace.

SOCI 378 has several exciting features. Students “seek alternative viewpoints by reading alternative news sources [like] Manchester Guardian and internet,” said Dr. Haley. Additionally, they read “Canadian documentaries such as The Corporation and The Take [which] reflect the public’s thirst for alternative sources of information on issues that matter to them,” she continues. And once students finish the course: “students who would like to expand their interest in this area in a more independent fashion are welcome to approach me about SOCI 426, an independent research course,” offers Dr. Haley.

Student evaluation in Media Construction of Social Movements and Issues (SOCI 378) consists of three assignments (worth 20%, 25% and 25%, respectively) and one take home midterm exam, worth 30% of the final course mark. Dr. Haley feels that the “assignments are closely tied to the course material to help ensure that students have a solid grounding in key sociological materials.”

Spend your summer learning about the role of mass media in today’s society by enrolling in SOCI 378. For more information, visit the course website at: http://www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/soci378.htm

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