Honors 391
Seminar: World Media and World Power
North Dakota State University

Ross Collins, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, 321 Minard; tel 231-7295; ross.collins@ndsu.edu;

Office hours: 9:30-11 Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment.

Class web site: www.ndsu.edu/communication/collins/resources.htm.
Class web site includes announcements page, class roster, class resources, and student bulletin board.


As this is an advanced-level seminar, attendance is essential. Students need to come prepared to ask questions and discuss assigned material, as informed discussion is vital to the vibrant experience of a seminar.

Instructor realizes that students sometimes face unforeseen emergencies that may require them to miss a seminar or class. Course policy is to allow one “free skip” for any reason. Beyond this students must realize that their missing the discussion may substantially lower their class grade.

What is a seminar?
Students who enroll in a class may expect to receive a syllabus specifically describing the material that class will cover, how it will be covered, and activities throughout the semester. The class instructor will take primary responsibility for preparing and relaying this information to students, through lectures as well as films, field trips and other activities, and specific assignments. Examinations will usually be administered to evaluate student progress and establish a final grade.

A seminar, on the other hand, shares the educational experience among students and instructors. Professors facilitate discussion based on their own knowledge and study of a topic, but seldom offer long lectures or other formally structured lesson plans and assignments. Learning is instead based on participation of each student. Students will be expected to do their own research on topic ideas to be covered at class meetings, offer essays or other written work in support of those ideas, and lead or facilitate group discussions of those topics. In addition to facilitating class discussions, instructors may provide tutorials and evaluation of written work. But the knowledge and insight taken from a seminar relies on enthusiasm of everyone who takes part.

Because the seminar approach asks students to pursue research, writing and discussion of topics through their own initiative, enrollment is usually limited to motivated and mature participants, either high-achieving undergraduates or graduate-level students. Ancient universities such as Cambridge (the instructor's alma mater!) and Oxford, as well as American “Ivy League” universities, favor the seminar as a pinnacle of higher education. Truly it is the bright and fortunate undergraduate at NDSU who experiences the challenge—and fun!—of seminar-style learning.

Course requirements and grading
Grades will be based on class participation and written work as assigned throughout the semester. There will be no examinations. Students will be asked to submit an annotated list of references (at least three) that they consulted in preparation for each class session, and be prepared to discuss the week’s topic. (In other words, don’t just sit there: say something!) References must include material beyond web sites!

Please note that reference lists, essays, and other written work must be typed, double-spaced, and reasonably free of spelling and grammar errors.

Graded assignments
* Topic essays. Students will be expected to produce an essay every other week or so, 50 pts each=300 pts.
* Three self-assessment essays, 50 pts each=150 pts.
* Weekly participation, 200 pts.
Total pts: about 650 pts, depending on number of topic essays.

Grading will be standard point-count based on a percentage: 90-100 percent=A, 80-89 percent=B, etc.

* An essay for this class is a four- to five-page paper based on specific topics to be discussed, as decided on by the instructor and the class.

* A self-assessment essay is a three- to four-page paper relating to broader issues discussed in meeting sessions, and how they may relate to your personal life.

*Class participation: students will receive a mid-semester evaluation of their class participation for reference.

Tentative Schedule

General class themes
Discussions may center around the following themes, each reflecting an aspect of American power or world media. They will not necessarily be presented in this order, and are subject to change, depending on class/instructor interests and current events.

World Power:
1. Post-Cold War era.
2. United Nations.
3. America as superpower.
4. Inhibitors of American power.
5. Iraq—Pre-9/11, post 9/11.
6. Perceptions of America—Pre-9/11, post 9/11.
7. Foreign policy.
8. Popular culture.
9. Science and global power.
10. Economic constraints.

World Media:
1. World press systems.
2. History and development of the mass media world-wide.
3. The New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO)
4. The mass media and war.
5. Globalization and media conglomerates.
6. Survey of influential world media.
7. Children and media.

Books and readings
No textbooks are required. Students will be expected to collect and read course material to prepare for the theme of each class. Readings will be collected from the library, on-line databases, and the internet. Instructor may assign specific readings, or may provide bibliographical lists from which students may wish to draw to prepare for a meeting. Information students collect and present in class may be used for subsequent class assignments.

Official notices
If you need accommodations for learning or have special needs, please let the instructors know as soon as possible.

Work in this course must adhere to the NDSU Code of Academic Responsibility and Conduct. This addresses cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating dishonesty. Instructors have the right to respond to a student’s dishonesty by failing the student for the particular assignment or test, or even the entire course, or recommend the student drop the course.