Organizing Community Media

BISMCS 471 Advanced Topics in Media and Communication Studies


Meeting time:

Mon/Wed 8:45-10:45

Meeting room:

UW1 102

Website: https://orgcm.wordpress.com

Amoshaun Toft


Office: UW 1-143

Phone: (425) 352-3210

Office Hours: Tu/We 10:45-11:45


Course Description

Communication is at the center of social life. A shared language provides us with the ability to articulate who we are and what we see around us. But without the ability to speak and be heard, we are left only listening – waiting for others to tell us who we are and what we want out of life. Community media offer unique opportunities for collaboration, empowerment and collective voice. But how do we create spaces for a diverse set of voices to speak and be heard? What are those communities that already populate our lives, and who else should we be talking to? How can we encourage dialog across difference through the use of media technologies? And how can we organize ourselves to ensure diversity of participation, responsiveness to community needs, and respect for each other in the process? These are the questions that will organize this course.

We will draw on the fields of communication and media studies, social movement studies, community organizing, and community-based learning and research as we learn about and build community media resources. We will work in teams to a) identify communities we would like to work with within and outside of the university, b) engage with those communities to understand how a community media outlet could serve their needs and desires, and c) design a community media model to build the capacity for those communities to talk within and across difference.

Community Organizing

Community organizing describes a process of working with communities of people to identify shared resources, needs, and desires, with an eye to building our collective capacity for self-determination. We will work as a class to identify communities to work with (both inside and outside the university), who these communities are and what our shared interests are, and to build a dialog between those communities and our class project (community media resources).

We will do this in the context of our readings on the study and practice of community organizing, collaboration, social justice, and social change.

Community Organizations

Community organizations can be empowering or disempowering, hierarchical or democratic, inclusive or exclusionary. So, how do we ensure that we build something that respects the interests of the communities that it is meant to serve? How do we provide stability in an organizational setting, while allowing for some flexibility in the context of changing needs and desires? We will tie our community organizing work to readings from organizational communication, community media, and social movement organizations to develop organizational models that build on existing resources and respond to community needs.

Learning Goals

Course Learning Goals

  • An applied understanding of the principles of community organizing
  • The ability to plan and implement a collaborative research project
  • The ability to work effectively in small groups, collaborate across teams, and work professionally with multiple constituents in a collaborative setting
  • Familiarity with diverse organizational forms and how they impact participation and decision making
  • The ability to present information in a compelling manner in a format appropriate to the context

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