Course Descriptions

J162 photoJ162: Mass Media in Multicultural America
Online only May 23-August 21 ~ 3 credits
(full course description below)


J175 photo

J175: Media Fluency in the Digital Age
Online only June 20-July 17 ~ 3 credits
(full course description below)


J445 photo

J445: Developing Creative Messages for Media
On campus May 24-June 16 ~ 4 credits
(full course description below)


J475 photoJ475: Sports Journalism
On campus May 24-June 3, online to August 15 ~ 4 credits
(full course description below)


J162: Mass Media in Multicultural America
In this course, we will consider the cultural history and experiences of racial and ethnic minorities and explore the way these groups are portrayed in mainstream mass media. We will focus primarily on three mass media channels: print, television and film; and on two communication forms: news and entertainment. We will learn about the differences and similarities between the terms “race” and “ethnicity;” the central roles and functions of mass media in multicultural societies; the different ways in which mass media create and perpetuate stereotypes of racial and ethnic minorities and majorities, how these images circulate in mass mediated culture and what impact they may have on individuals and societies; and the factors that lead to changes in the ways racial and ethnic minorities and majorities are depicted in mass media. We will explore these and other related issues through a number of learning activities such as quizzes, writing assignments, group discussion and self-reflection. Contact Professor Hemant Shah ( for more information. This course is 100% online and satisfies the ethnic studies requirement and the social science breadth requirement.

J175: Media Fluency in the Digital Age
Digital media is very much a part of our day-to-day lives. For some of us, it’s hard to remember there not being a computer or a cell phone somewhere around us, whether at home or school. It’s not just a question of what we do online and in the digital world, but how and why. What makes up the ecosystem of media, content, infrastructure and devices? When we are creative online, who benefits? (It’s not necessarily us.) And what does it mean when these interactions we have seep into the world around us—not only on computers, mobile phones and smart phones, but into the social, political and economic worlds around us?

The media landscape has changed vastly over the last 20 years, and it has major ramifications for all of us as both producers and consumers of digital media. Through this course, students will not only examine – they will engage with – this media landscape.  Students will critically analyze how digital media is made and ‘used’ today, and understand how this affects them. The topics covered in this course are unfolding now, yet they have deep roots and histories that will be investigated in this class. We will use a number of sources as we do so. Some of the readings for this class will be scholarly. Others will come from popular media sources. Others, still, will come from blogs or Tumblr, or won’t be readings at all: they will be audio or visual. Contact Deb Pierce ( for more information. This course is 100% online and fulfills a core requirement for the Digital Studies Certificate.

J445: Developing Creative Messages for Media
This course serves as an introduction to the creative aspects of message development for advertising, public relations and other strategic communication. Course focuses on:

  • basics of “concepting”—the strategic thinking that underlies developing creative messages
  • creative writing techniques and general development of writing ability
  • visualization methods and their application to message creation
  • integration of copy and visual elements into fully realized creative messages
  • application of class concepts in manual and computer-assisted message design

This course meets on campus, counts towards the Digital Studies Certificate, and is open to non-majors by consent of the instructor, Professor Doug McLeod (

J475: Sports Journalism
This course examines issues and develops advanced skills in covering sports, with guest mentors from national and local media including Andy Katz of ESPN and long-time Washington Post sports editor and NFL beat writer Len Shapiro. Class meets in person on campus from May 24 to June 3 and then online through early August as students complete their assignments covering a sports beat at home, in Madison or elsewhere. Open to all students by application; send a sample of sports-related writing and a paragraph saying why you’re interested in the course to instructor Robert Schwoch at by March 15. Fulfills the 400-level requirement for J-School reporting trackers.