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Department ofCommunication

Senior Thesis & Capstone

All Communication majors complete a senior thesis or capstone course in their senior year.

Thesis students complete substantial papers based on their original research.

Capstone students make films, write feature-length magazine articles, or create public relations materials for a real-world client. Students emerge from thesis or capstone with an example of their best work, suitable for including in applications for jobs and graduate school

Prerequisite Information

All students enrolled in any section of thesis/capstone must complete the following required courses before taking thesis/capstone:

  • COMM 1 (Introduction to Interpersonal Communication)
  • COMM 2 (Media in a Global World) or 2GL (Introduction to Global Media Studies)
  • COMM 12 (Technology & Communication)
  • COMM 20 (Public Speaking)
  • COMM 30 (Introduction to Digital Filmmaking)
  • COMM 40 (Introduction to Journalism) or 40 EL (Introduction to Journalism- Experiential Learning)
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 or 111G (Qualitative Research Methods)
  • There are additional prerequisites for each thesis/capstone section. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have completed them before the quarter in which you plan to take thesis/capstone. Enrolling in a prerequisite during the same quarter as thesis/capstone doesn’t count.
  • Acceptance into any thesis/capstone section is contingent upon the student successfully completing all prerequisites prior to the quarter in which the student is enrolled in thesis/capstone. A student who drops or fails a prerequisite will not be eligible to take thesis/capstone and will forfeit their slot in a thesis/capstone section.

Fall 2021

For the open topic thesis, students work with a partner(s) to carry out a communication-related social science research project, perhaps on a topic they have begun in Comm 110 or Comm 111. The final project consists of a literature review, selection of appropriate methods, data gathering, data analysis, and discussion. Students will present the results in both a written form and an oral form.

Prerequisites

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 (Qualitative Research Methods) or 111G (Feminist Methods)
  • One COMM List A course

Film and television play a significant role in how we see and understand not only ourselves, but others in society. In this seminar we will explore how popular film and television shows shape, create, and transform our understanding of culture, gender, class and race in the U.S. As a group, the class will create an online resource of clips and scholarly articles that represent each genre’s history and current practices that reveal narrative design strategies as they relate to culture, gender, class and race. Students will write summary essays to connect the theory to the film and television show examples.

Prerequisites

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 (Qualitative Research Methods) or 111G (Feminist Methods)
  • one Film & Television List A from this list (Comm 136A, Comm 137A, Comm 138A, Comm 139A, Comm 187A, Comm 189A)

Winter 2022

In the last two decades, new media technologies have been celebrated for ushering in a “global village.” This course focuses on how “new media” such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, cell phones etc. produce and represent global cultures. Our readings and discussions will challenge “culture” as a fixed, monolithic identity and understand new media technologies as embedded in constant processes of contestation and negotiation. We will cover topics on new media and global cultures such as immigration, social movements, changing conceptions of work and labor, “entrepreneurial culture and other contemporary topics.” Students will conduct original, qualitative research that will culminate in a research paper and presentation.

Prerequisites:

  • All lower division Communication requirements
  • COMM 110
  • Comm 111 or Comm 111G
  • one COMM List A class

Assignments Structure:
Discussion Posts
Theoretical Concepts Paper
Literature Survey
Public Presentation
Individual Research Paper (including topic, abstract, complete, initial version and revised, final version)
Reflection

Time is central to the human experience. We use time as a way to measure, pace, reward, and punish. But most issues related to time are taken for granted in human communication research. In this course, we will explore many of the social conceptions of time that affect the way we live on a daily (and weekly, and monthly, and yearly) basis. We will also examine how time affects relationships within groups and organizations, as well as how agency plays a role in our relationship with time.

This course starts in seminar format and proceeds with the production of team research projects. Students will be asked to investigate a question relating to time and communication, and will then produce a website and presentation showcasing their findings.

Prerequisites: No additional required

The Strategic Communication Capstone will entail the completion of an applied campaign project as well as the collection and analysis of campaign evaluation data. In other words, students will design a campaign and then collect data to see if their campaign was successful in achieving the objectives of the campaign. The campaign will target a health behavior (try to get people to change a health-related behavior) among a target population, which may include fellow SCU students. For projects that target students, we will be working in close partnership with campus partners (e.g., the SCU Wellness Center, Office of Student Life, Residence Life) to implement projects that will directly contribute to the health of fellow students on campus. There is also the potential to implement projects for an off-campus partner that focuses on health. Using data and theory-driven strategies, the campaigns will be designed in the prerequisite course, COMM 154A, Foundations of Strategic Campaigns (previously called Public Health Campaigns); thus, the Capstone class itself will focus on the hands-on implementation of the campaign and the evaluation of it's effectiveness. To design an evaluation plan, students will draw from the research skills they learned in COMM 110 and COMM 111. The knowledge and skills learned in this course will help students develop experience applicable to careers in a wide range of strategic communication areas, including public relations, advertising, and public health.

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 (Qualitative Research Methods) or COMM 111G (Feminist Methods)
  • COMM 154A

In a time when technology is dominating our working lives and personal relationships, while empathy seems a dying art, scientists from a variety of domains have begun the study of acts of human kindness. Can empathy be developed? What variables affect the desire to engage in acts of kindness? What are we learning about our unique ability to care about each other? What is the power (and what are the effects) of giving and receiving acts of kindness? What does neuroscience reveal about the intricate architecture of kindness in the human brain? What are the differences between prosocial behaviors and acts of radical kindness? The science of kindness might well be a groundbreaking perspective to survive and thrive in an increasingly fractured world.

This will be a seminar style of senior thesis that extends our study of the Science of Happiness. Students will engage in and lead weekly discussions, read and analyze the current studies about kindness, consider the possibility of applying the research to changing their own relationships (present and future), work in small teams to present research on kindness to others, and develop a personal project that explains, extends, and applies the newest research to an interpersonal issue.

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 (Qualitative Research Methods) or COMM 111G (Feminist Methods)
  • COMM 100A (The Science of Happiness)

Spring 2022

For the open topic thesis, students work with a partner(s) to carry out a communication-related social science research project, perhaps on a topic they have begun in Comm 110 or Comm 111. The final project consists of a literature review, selection of appropriate methods, data gathering, data analysis, and discussion. Students will present the results in both a written form and an oral form.

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 (Qualitative Research Methods) or 111G (Feminist Methods)
  • 1-List A

Digital Filmmaking is a workshop designed to provide Seniors the context in which they produce their Capstone films and reflect on how the courses in history, theory, and criticism they have taken in the Communication Department have informed their work and filmmaking vision. Digital Filmmaking Capstone entails the production of a 10-minute film and the writing of an 8- to 10-page reflection paper in which students discuss the relationship between theory and practice as it relates to their projects and who they are as filmmakers. Students will work in groups to pre-produce, shoot, and post-produce an original film, and to write an individual vision statement. The goal of Digital Filmmaking Capstone is to give students the chance to refine the technical and aesthetic skills they have learned in the film production sequence and to deepen their understanding of the relation between the practice of filmmaking and film/video theory and criticism.

Prerequisites:

  • All Comm Lower Division Requirements
  • Either Comm 110 or 111/111G
  • 130B (English Screenwriting is accepted)
  • Two List B courses in film/TV production (Comm 131B, Comm 132B, Comm 133B, Comm Comm 134B, Comm 135B, Comm 188B); 
  • One Film/TV List A: ( Comm 136A, Comm 137A, Comm 138A, Comm 139A, Comm 171A, Comm 187A, Comm 188A)

Journalism has never been more important, and our ability to gather information and share it with readers has exploded with technology. The skills we use in journalism prepare students for a future in professional communication of all kinds. The journalism capstone allows students to show off their ability to deliver accurate information to a specific audience, in a way that people can quickly and easily understand.

Students in the journalism capstone produce compelling individual work as part of an overall thematic group project on a relevant issue facing our community. This capstone entails students demonstrating solid information gathering skills, clear and focused writing, and the effective use of a variety of multimedia elements (text, video, audio, graphics, etc). The needs of the story should drive the presentation.

Students will pitch and execute a feature-length story with appropriate companion media elements, as well as contribute to the overall strategy, problem-solving and production of the project. Stories must be approved in advance, and students will move forward through prescribed deadlines and benchmarks, with the support of peers, faculty and, occasionally, professionals.

In addition, students will create reflection pieces, in which they share how their education and knowledge of theory and practice has informed their work on the project.

Prerequisites:

  • All Comm Lower Division Requirements
  • Comm 110
  • Comm 111 or Comm 111G
  • Two Upper Division journalism courses (Comm 141B, Comm 142B, Comm 143B, Comm 145B, Comm 146B)
  • One List A from the following list: Comm 121A, Cpmm 127A, Comm 147A, Comm 154A, Comm 155A, Comm 137A, Comm 138A, Comm 170A, Comm 181A, Comm 182A, Comm 183A, Comm 185A.

Students in this section will work in teams to design research projects on communication for sustainability and environmental justice. Sustainability encompasses a healthy environment, a vibrant economy, and a socially just society that meets everyone’s needs, including the needs of future generations. Environmental justice affirms the rights of all people to a healthy environment, especially low-income Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities, which have been saddled with the worst environmental health threats. Projects may involve testing persuasive frames, messages, news items, entertainment, campaigns, or communication interventions. Research may address communication’s influence on individual or collective beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors. To maximize the impact of our research, we will share our results and recommendations with SCU’s Center for Sustainability, which implements sustainable solutions on our campus, and other relevant organizations. Students will emerge with a clearer understanding of how to use research to inform effective communication for sustainability and environmental justice in civic and professional life.

Prerequisites:

  • All lower division courses
  • COMM 110
  • COMM 111 or 111G
  • COMM 120A - Environmental Communication or COMM 113B – Community Organizing or COMM 154A – Foundations of Strategic Campaigns or COMM 122A – Media Advocacy

Fall 2020

In this seminar, students will explore the intersections between their personal lives and the social scientific literature on interpersonal communication. Students will conduct research on interpersonal topics meaningful to them, including but not limited to: negotiating condom usage in dating relationships, communication between divorced parents sharing child custody, communication between coaches and athletes, conflict between co-workers, sexual harassment, cross-sex or cross-cultural friendships, communication among step-siblings or half-siblings, maintaining long-distance relationships, mentoring relationships, coming out to friends and family about LGBTQ+ identities, doctor-patient communication, communicating support and comfort to loved ones, and gendered communication styles. Students will each construct an individual thesis project that will include both a critical literature review and an original arts-based research product (e.g., short story, photo essay, several poems, painting, digital story, performance)./p>

Prerequisites: at least one interpersonal course from among the following: 100A, 101A, 102A, 103A, 104A, 106A, 107A, 108A, 109A, 118A, 119A, 151A, 176A, 177A, 178A.

The course will address the depiction of disability in different genres of popular media, including cinema, art, literature, and or graphic novels. Course materials will be drawn from different cultural, geographical, and historical contexts, including Iranian new wave cinema and American superhero comics. The course will consist of three related dimensions. One, we will evaluate theoretical definitions of disability, types of disability, ideas of the normal body and self, and general notions of difference. Two, we will analyze the representation of disability in specific media texts, such as the X-Men comics, with reference to the theoretical framework. And three, we will pay close attention to how the languages and idioms of representation in these texts reproduce or challenge notions of disability.

Prerequisites: at least one list A course

Winter 2021

The Strategic Communication Capstone will entail the completion of an applied campaign project as well as the collection and analysis of campaign evaluation data. In other words, students will design a campaign and then collect data to see if their campaign was successful in achieving the objectives of the campaign. The campaign will target a health behavior (try to get people to change a health-related behavior) among a target population, which may include fellow SCU students. For projects that target students, we will be working in close partnership with campus partners (e.g., the SCU Wellness Center, Office of Student Life, Residence Life) to implement projects that will directly contribute to the health of fellow students on campus. There is also the potential to implement projects for an off-campus partner that focuses on health. Using data and theory-driven strategies, the campaigns will be designed in the prerequisite course, COMM 154A, Foundations of Strategic Campaigns (previously called Public Health Campaigns); thus, the Capstone class itself will focus on the hands-on implementation of the campaign and the evaluation of it's effectiveness. To design an evaluation plan, students will draw from the research skills they learned in COMM 110 and COMM 111. The knowledge and skills learned in this course will help students develop experience applicable to careers in a wide range of strategic communication areas, including public relations, advertising, and public health.

Prerequisites: COMM 154A

Using the Industrialization of Culture Framework (introduced in COMM 171), we will explore the relationship between politics, economics, culture and media industries. Students will conduct in-depth research on a media company of their choosing using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods. Student projects will investigate how a particular media company serves the public while navigating the political and economic constraints of the culture in which it operates. Students can choose to study industries from anywhere in the world.

Prerequisites: COMM 171

How do we communicate who we are in a new environment? What drives us to do so? What happens when our self-identifications are misunderstood or dismissed? This thesis seminar will explore identity negotiation processes in action. We will examine identity formations from an interdisciplinary perspective. With relevant literature reviewed from communication, sociology, theater/performance studies, and anthropology, we will engage in conducting original research to examine ways in which identities are managed in the work environment. You will produce and deliver an independent research report at the end of the course.

Prerequisites: Any two upper-division COMM courses

Spring 2021

Digital Filmmaking is a workshop designed to provide Seniors the context in which they produce their Capstone films and reflect on how the courses in history, theory, and criticism they have taken in the Communication Department have informed their work and filmmaking vision. Digital Filmmaking Capstone entails the production of a 10-minute film and the writing of an 8- to 10-page reflection paper in which students discuss the relationship between theory and practice as it relates to their projects and who they are as filmmakers. Students will work in groups to pre-produce, shoot, and post-produce an original film, and to write an individual vision statement. The goal of Digital Filmmaking Capstone is to give students the chance to refine the technical and aesthetic skills they have learned in the film production sequence and to deepen their understanding of the relation between the practice of filmmaking and film/video theory and criticism.

Prerequisites: 130B (English Screenwriting is accepted); Two List B courses in film/TV production (131B, 132B, 133B, 134B, 135B); and at least one from the following list: COMM 187A, COMM 188A, COMM 139A, COMM 136A, COMM 137A, COMM 138A, COMM 171A

Journalism has never been more important, and our ability to gather information and share it with readers has exploded with technology. The skills we use in journalism prepare students for a future in professional communication of all kinds. The journalism capstone allows students to show off their ability to deliver accurate information to a specific audience, in a way that people can quickly and easily understand.

Students in the journalism capstone produce compelling individual work as part of an overall thematic group project on a relevant issue facing our community. This capstone entails students demonstrating solid information gathering skills, clear and focused writing, and the effective use of a variety of multimedia elements (text, video, audio, graphics, etc). The needs of the story should drive the presentation.

Students will pitch and execute a feature-length story with appropriate companion media elements, as well as contribute to the overall strategy, problem-solving and production of the project. Stories must be approved in advance, and students will move forward through prescribed deadlines and benchmarks, with the support of peers, faculty and, occasionally, professionals.

In addition, students will create reflection pieces, in which they share how their education and knowledge of theory and practice has informed their work on the project.

Prerequisites: Two upper-division journalism courses and at least one of the following: COMM 170, COMM 147A, COMM 121A, COMM 185A, COMM 147A

Time is central to the human experience. We use time as a way to measure, pace, reward, and punish. But most issues related to time are taken for granted in human communication research. In this course, we will explore many of the social conceptions of time that affect the way we live on a daily (and weekly, and monthly, and yearly) basis. We will also examine how time affects relationships within groups and organizations, as well as how agency plays a role in our relationship with time.

This course starts in seminar format and proceeds with the production of team research projects. Students will be asked to investigate a question relating to time and communication, and will then produce a website and presentation showcasing their findings.

Prerequisites: No additional required