Communication and Social Change

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
CMNS 1220
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
CMNS 1220 introduces students to a series of current debates and controversies in Communication Studies. Students will engage with these issues in order to better understand the role played by media and communication in everyday life, and to consider a range of political, economic, and social debates from a variety of perspectives. The course looks at contemporary issues in and around mass media, and encourages students to explore the role of media in social movements around the world.
Course Content

Instructors will introduce students to several contemporary debates in Canadian and global Communication Studies, with a particular focus on issues of the political economy of media, labour relations in media industries, and technological innovation/disruption. Students will also focus on skills of critical thinking in the context of Communication Studies, including the constitutive elements of an effective argument. Debates will be introduced through readings (canonical and contemporary reflections or case studies) and media clips. Students will be expected to reflect on their initial opinions, as well as how their opinions may change after lecture each week.

Sample topics include:


  • The CBC and Canadian Identity
    • The usefulness of a public broadcaster, comparing and contrasting the Canadian example with the American system.
  • The Political Economy of Advertising
    • Socially progressive advertising campaigns, including issues of ownership and bias in media messaging.
  • The Limits of Free Speech
    • Restrictions on free speech here in Canada, contrasting traditional broadcast media with the Internet.
  • Violent Games, Violent Kids
    • The relationship between video games and violence in children. The deeper roots of moral panics around media.
Learning Activities

Instruction will consist of weekly lectures, as well as seminar-style discussion of specific issues. Participation and engagement with the material are essential in this course, and students must be prepared to discuss and debate each week. 

Means of Assessment

Student learning will typically be assessed using the following assignments:

  • A weekly writing journal, in which students discuss their opinions on an issue before and after engaging with the readings and lecture material (25%)
  • A position paper on a particular debate not discussed in class (20%)
  • One mid-term exam (20%)
  • One final exam (20%)
  • Attendance and participation (15%)
Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the successful student will be able to satisfy the following learning objectives:

  1. Identify and interpret the various sides of a media debate without resorting to binaries or dualities.
  2. Defend their positions on a number of media debates using scholarly sources as well as their own experiences, while considering opposing viewpoints in a debate.
  3. Defend a viewpoint in a casual debate, respecting the other viewpoints and providing clear evidence to support their own viewpoint.
  4. Research and explore a particular media debate in depth, resulting in a short position paper presented to the class. This paper should evaluate how the student's attitudes and opinions may have changed after researching the issue in depth.
Textbook Materials

Suggested texts: 


Coursepack of both canonical readings on specific issues as well as recent peer-reviewed journal articles.


Greenberg, J., & Elliott, C. (Current edition). Communication in question: Competing perspectives on controversial issues in communication studies. Toronto, Ontario: Nelson Education. 



No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for CMNS 1220
Alexander College (ALEX) ALEX SOSC 1XX (3)
Athabasca University (AU) AU CMNS 2XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU CMNS 1XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR COMC 1XX (3)
Coquitlam College (COQU) COQU CMNS 130 (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU COMM 1XXX (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG ARTS 1XXX (3)
North Island College (NIC) NIC MCS 1XX (3)
Okanagan College (OC) OC CMNS 1XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CMNS 130 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU CMNS 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU MCOM 1XX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW COMM 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ARTS 1st (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) No credit
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV MACS 299 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC SOCI 1XX (1.1)
Vancouver Community College (VCC) VCC UNSP 1XXX (3)
Vancouver Community College (VCC) No credit

Course Offerings

Summer 2023