Course Offerings

Communication, Culture & Technology students design their own curricula with the guidance of faculty advisors. Students must take three required courses: CCTP-5005, CCTP-5006, and a methods course. The rest of their curriculum is made up of electives which may include additional methods courses*. While electives are usually CCT courses, students may also take courses offered elsewhere at Georgetown University or even at other DC-area universities. These options require the approval of Ai-Hui Tan, CCT’s Director of Academic Affairs. See CCT M.A. Requirements.

*Note: Below is a list of recently offered courses. Not all the courses will be offered every year.

Required Courses

This course introduces students to interdisciplinary and graduate studies in the Communication, Culture & Technology program. This class aims at helping students to develop an expertise so they can contribute to an intellectual community. At the same time the course will equip students with an academic and professional problem-solving framework. Students will explore interdisciplinarity in communications, cultural, media, and technology studies by taking the initial steps to identify the communities to which they want to matter, to determine what foundations/ assumptions/ viewpoints exist in said community, and to figure out how to contribute knowledge to the ongoing conversation.

506 is about opening up the black box – a course that teaches *how to de-black box* technologies as sociotechnical systems in a way that reveals and inspires opportunities for participation and intervention. In 506, we de-black box across five broad, overlapping areas: Histories & Iterations, Motivations & Power Players, Metal & Bits, Infrastructure & Standards, and Users & Non-Users.

Courses that fulfill the Methods requirement:

Students will gain conceptual competencies and critical thinking skills for understanding and explaining the key design principles for: (1) computer systems, (2) kinds of data and data processes, (3) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), (4) Cloud Computing and “Big Data” systems, and (5) how these technologies are now combined and integrated. Our learning method comes from combining: (1) Systems Thinking, (2) Design Thinking, (3) Semiotic Thinking, and (4) the Ethics and Policy viewpoint. Since these technologies are now widely used in every field and business sector, students will have achieved highly in-demand conceptual competencies for communicating clear, “deblackboxed” explanations of the fundamental principles of computing, AI/ML, and Cloud systems wherever they are used and applied.

Students learn the basics of physical computing and programming by using the Arduino platform to create an interactive artifact that senses user or environmental input and processes it into meaningful feedback. Artifacts can be pure aesthetic interactive works of art or purpose-built Internet-of-Things type objects.

Content Analysis is a methods course that teaches you how to take a large body of content – text, images, video, whatever! – and systematically classify it into categories. We then analyze the data produced by doing so using statistical analysis. The course is based around a group project that teams work on throughout the entire semester.

CCTP 646 explores the concepts and practice of sentiment analysis. Students will gain hands-on experience using RStudio to collect, manage and analyze data from social media sources.

This course is an epic survey of all things tech and law that teaches students to analyze legal materials like cases, legislation, and regulations with two aims. First and foremost, the class is a methods course designed to teach graduate students in technology fields how to grapple with the law. Second, it is a survey course of issues at the intersection of law and technology.

Survey Research Methods is a methods course that teaches how to design, execute, analyze, and critique a survey. It includes questionnaire design, as well as statistical analysis of survey data.

Social Network Analysis provides an invaluable set of statistical techniques and theories to explore the causes and implication of social structures. This course uses RStudio to visual and analyze social relationships.

The course is designed especially for students from non-technical backgrounds. Students will learn the key concepts for everything we call “code” and “symbol systems” (from language and writing to math, logic, and computer code), and why computer systems are designed as “semiotic systems” (systems based on, and designed to serve, human symbolic capabilities and expression, which includes interface design). Students will learn the fundamentals of computer “code” by focusing on the “why” and “how” of computer system design and what programming languages are, and will also have hands-on practice in using code. Students will be able to go on to learn programming, and will also have the in-demand conceptual competencies to explain and “translate” technical concepts for others in any career context.

This course serves as an introduction to some of the central questions of Critical Theory as they help us to understand the technologies of popular and mass cultures. While many of the concerns of Critical Theory can be understood in relation to other forms of political science, social theory, and cultural production, such as literature, high art, anthropology, history, and sociology, for the purposes of this seminar we will be examining the readings with an eye to the impact of such phenomena as cinema, television, photography, the internet, recorded sound, social media, etc.

This course unpacks trends in the evolution of American election media and contemplates future developments. Innovations in campaign media not only have significant implications for the contesting of elections, they also can initiate changes to the larger political-media ecosystem. Media in elections is explored from the perspective of their influence on electoral institutions and processes, news and information sources, and voters.

Political media have been undergoing a significant evolution since the 1980s resulting in a hybrid media system that encompasses established and novel communication forms. This course explores the ways in which new media have fundamentally transformed political institutions, processes, and the news media. It examines the audiences for new media from a variety of perspectives, including the composition of political media audiences, motivations for political media use, political engagement via new media, and new media effects.

Statistical Methodology will give students a comprehensive introduction into basic quantitative research methods. We will conduct univariate and bivariate analyses using RStudio.

Advanced Statistical Analysis will focus on multivariate statistical analysis methods. We will explore many different bivariate and multivariate techniques using RStudio.

Through this broad-based qualitative methods course, it gives you the chance to learn different approaches to analyzing unstructured data. These approaches can include textual analysis, content analysis, and rhetorical analysis. Additionally, data collection can include observation, interview, and focus groups. You will practice these methods for collecting data, analyzing and forming conclusions multiple times throughout the semester.

Students will learn the key concepts and design principles for computer systems, data and information, software, interfaces and interaction, and the Internet and Web. Students will learn how to apply the methods from systems thinking and design thinking to “deblackbox” (make accessible) why and how everything in computing and digital media are based on implementing universal design principles, and how to use this knowledge to go beyond being merely consumers and users of the technologies to becoming thought leaders who can help others and participate in new designs.

Thousands of organizations now use video to tell their stories to their clients and the public. This course will equip students with the visual, technical and interviewing skills necessary to plan, produce and edit professional quality video stories, designed for multi-purpose distribution in traditional, social and digital media. It is ideal for students and career-seekers with a passion for communications, advocacy, journalism, or marketing.

Many industries and small businesses are embracing podcasting as a way to reinforce customer or supporter loyalty, and gain new listeners and clients. This course will train and equip students with the skills and tools they need to conceive, plan, and launch a high-quality ongoing podcast, – defining the concept, format, goals and identity of the podcast, including music/theme choices. Technical skills: voicing and microphone techniques, recording devices, editing platforms, music and production platforms.

Critical Studies in Journalism invites students to deconstruct the role and function of journalism across human history and specifically in today’s post-truth era. The course examines journalism’s roots, which can be traced to prehistoric times, as a fundamental human activity, takes stock of the current state of journalism and explores the future of journalism – culturally, socially and technologically.

Some technologies have persisted for millennia and are the backbone of civilization. Some technologies are recent innovations that could be undermining that civilization in the name of some imagined future. Other technologies, even those yet to be invented, will allow civilization to persist into the future. All of these are in need of critiques that will help us decide which category a given technology might fall into.

The course equips students to launch and lead a small multi-media start-up company, from conception to production and evaluation. Students will gain an understanding of the challenges of running a digital media production through strategic planning, budgetary planning and monitoring, hiring decisions and staff motivation, marketing, evaluation tools for progress and success, and legal and ethical challenges.

Other CCT electives

This course will explore the growth of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as an industry concept, as an observable, contemporary communications phenomenon, and as a response to digital media culture and crowd-sourced journalism. Students look at the origin of CSR and track its progression to its current state amid the rise of digital media, the breakdown of traditional media, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing corporations, in certain circumstances, to be viewed as individual citizens. In addition, students look at how companies manipulate CSR to assert their privileges, viewpoints, obligations, and ultimately their rights within the public discourse.

A makerspace is a collaborative work environment inside a school, library, or separate public/private facility, typically equipped with a range of fabrication tools for making a wide variety of materials and media. In this course students will learn not only the “hard” skills of design and fabrication with a wide range of tools, but also the “soft” skills of empathy, communication, and collaboration necessary for innovation. This course will provide hands-on, practical learning opportunities through skill-building and volunteer service in the Georgetown Maker Hub.

Journalism & Politics of Terror examines the role of journalism before, during and after specific events that strike terror into the public sphere. Students will examine various shades of terror and their relationships with the news media – starting from acts of violence (such as mass shootings, bombattacks) to climate related events –  in order to uncover the political underpinnings of these terror events.

This class introduces students to the guarantees for freedom of expression found in the international human rights treaties, the legal and policy frameworks around freedom of expression in the U.S. and the EU, as well as the alternative vision for Internet regulation put forward by China. Students will examine how global data flows strain application of local law and elevate conflicts of law and jurisdiction.

This course examines the intersection of fashion law, technology, government policy and social justice through the lens of design, fashion tech, retail, supply chain and sustainability. Course topics include: intellectual property law, data privacy, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), cultural appropriation, climate and environmental policy. 

This course examines the contemporary understanding of corporate communication, and how recent developments shape existing theory and practice into a new articulation of corporate strategy. Students will explore how organizations–both for-profit and non-profit–struggle to align key messaging to multiple stakeholders who are increasingly suspicious of carefully crafted and controlled corporate viewpoints. We will look at how the growing importance of leveraging corporate citizenship and other intangible assets play a significant, if sometimes controversial, role in forming today’s new era of business culture.

In Tech for Political Change, we will read case studies that illustrate how technology has changed politics. People in nineteenth-century China, for example, used the telegraph and newspapers to mobilize against the emperor. In the Philippines, citizens mobilizing by cell phone toppled a corrupt government. Mexico and other countries used public broadcasters to build national identity. Case studies from around the world reveal how various technologies function to create new political energy, enabling activists to challenge institutions while allowing governments to increase their power at home and abroad.

This course asks how we can use technology to exchange ideas with diverse national cultures, deploying such media genres as anime, manga, graphic novels, video games, and other forms of Fan Culture.  At the same time, our cross-cultural approach accordingly addresses such fields as International Relations, Translation Theory, and Visual Studies.  We will consider the foregoing genres in countries such as Japan, China, and Korea–in comparison with parallel forms in the U.S.

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to our study of crisis communications, drawing on theories, research and strategies that shape global media messaging in a highly connected world. We will look closely at how corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, and social and cultural activists craft, influence, and foment agenda using digital media and other high-tech tools to circumvent, contradict or delegitimize traditional media channels.

This course introduces students to a definition and characterization of the 21st century knowledge economy. The knowledge economy represents a major shift from the industrial economy of the last 200 years. The shift began in the 1950s and accelerated during the COVID pandemic. The essential change is from physical and financial capital to knowledge capital. Knowledge capital is no longer just an input to industrial processes and products, it is a whole new commodity and factor of production with different economic properties and behaviors. Knowledge capital changes who owns, leases and rents capital, how we work, what and how we manage, what investment means, and how we track and measure economic growth.

Strategic communications is crucial to the success of new ventures, startup companies and leadership. This course will use case study, research-based information, and topical reviews of current state to prepare students to understand and overcome communication challenges when interacting with media, investors, customers, and business partners.

Culture is like an iceberg – only a small percentage is visible to us. Culture consists of assumptions, beliefs, values, behaviors, and artifacts. We see the visible behaviors and artifacts, without understanding the invisible values, beliefs and assumptions. This course translates theoretical models to a practical framework. The framework is applied to a range of cultures to help us better understand how and why they act as they do. Understanding culture is essential in the 21st century because there is greater contact between cultures, new cultural conflicts, and increases in strategic failure due to lack of strategic-cultural alignment. 

Misinformation and Society gives a broad overview of recent research on misinformation. Topics include why misinformation is a problem, who is most susceptible to it and why, and what to do about it.

This course examines contemporary policy issues in the governance of content moderation by social media companies. It includes an overview of the traditional justifications for a regime of free expression and critiques of free speech as an abstract value, how governments regulate social media content moderation in the U.S., Europe, and China, and special issues in contemporary content moderation regulation including transparency requirements, dispute resolution systems, legal liability for social media, regulation of social media algorithms, political pluralism in social media and First Amendment obstacles to effective social media regulation.

This course will examine a global phenomenon that has taken on massive proportions in the world – the spread of disinformation. We will explore types of false information from misinformation to disinformation to propaganda. Additionally the course will cover the basics of psychological safety including stress management especially as it relates to constant exposure to propaganda and disinformation.

Chess is a prime example of an interdisciplinary Boundary Object that engages multiple disciplines, from computer science, to art and design, to media and culture. In this class we learn to adopt pan-disciplinary thinking as we unpack the game of chess from multiple disciplinary perspectives to achieve a more complete, nuanced, and complex understanding that can later be applied to similar objects that also converge interdisciplinary thought.

Communities and collaborative spaces are incubators of innovation, knowledge and intellectual capital. This course translates theory (structural elements – design and structure, community make up, identity, domain, culture, practice) into practice (origins, lifecycles, roles and responsibilities, enabling technologies, knowledge flows, strategic placement, impacts).  The course applies theory to a range of different domains, including emergency and disaster management, e-science and invisible colleges, homesteading and gardening communities, beekeeping, sports, spiritual/religious communities.

Networks are inherent to human survival – we are social beings and rely on one another to prosper – but they are invisible. Technology has made some of these networks visible. Over the millennia, we have leveraged the basic elements of networks to better understand the working of social systems, communication systems, economic systems, and the development of scholarship. In the knowledge economy, our networks are a form of relational capital. Network science focuses on big picture views of networks rather than the flow of knowledge among and across individual sources. This course focuses on the knowledge in networks, the six components of a knowledge network, and network behaviors. We present and test a conceptual model against real world networks, both constructive and destructive networks.

Breaking and (Re-)Building Trust in News will give students a fundamental understanding of the concept of trust in general and trust in journalism specifically. Trust is examined through the lens of social construction, institutionalism and communication in order to better gauge how trust in news may be broken and re-build in a world riddled with mis- and disinformation.

International & Comparative Privacy & Surveillance is a discussion-based course in which students will engage with contemporary issues in privacy and surveillance through an analysis of relatively recent domestic and international current events. In addition, students will take part in in-class discussions with industry professionals/experts.

This course will explore the means and ends of the modern IP system, analyzing how IP rights function, and how they influence new technology and contemporary culture. We will explore the major species of IP: copyright, trademark, and patent, with emphasis on the mutual challenges that copyright and digital technology pose to each other. Specific subjects explored will include: internet file-sharing and streaming, online copyright infringement, and digital rights management (DRM); the significance of copyright “fair use” in a networked age; software and business method patents; disputes over internet domain names, and others.

Introduction to Python and Machine Learning begins with an introduction to Python programming (the language of choice for data analysis and machine learning) and develops an appreciation of how these programming skills can be applied to solving data analysis and machine learning problems. During the semester students solve a series of increasingly complex programming and machine learning problems prior to completing a machine learning final project. By the end of the course, the student will be able to analyze more complex machine learning and data analysis models, adjust parameters, and gain insight into the different approaches for addressing data analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence problems.

How has the use of communication technologies changed the nature of organizational work and individual interactions? This course will explore the changing nature of presence with the use and diffusion of communication technologies and their impact on how organizations and individuals interact. The first half of the course will focus on the way that organizations need to communicate internally and the second half of the course will focus on external messaging. As organizations continue to navigate hybrid and virtual options, understanding how communication is practiced is critical.

This overview of important theories in communication provides you with frameworks and explanations of communication practices within a variety of settings including interpersonal, organizational, mass communication, and mediated contexts. Whether you are interested in pursuing positions in industry or in research, these theories are the building blocks of all communication practices.

The purpose of this course is to equip students with the tools to identify and articulate the impacts of large firms in the tech industry. The course will cover the history of American antitrust laws, issues that intersect with antitrust policy, and the 116th United States Congress’s investigation of four major tech firms: Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. Throughout this course, we will practice communicating complicated antitrust policies for non-expert audiences.

In this course you will use the language of new media to present your academic and professional identit(ies) by understanding your own story, crafting that story for key identified audiences, and telling that story with new media languages. You will develop a rich, outward-facing digital presence that will reflect your growth, learning, and expertise in ways designed to appeal to identified stakeholders.

This course is a survey of the internet in China. Students will explore the social, political, economic, historical, and cultural implications of this unique corner of cyberspace.

Unity is a popular and powerful game and simulation development platform that is used to create popular video games, as a platform to interactive Extended Reality experiences, and as a research platform for “Digital Twin” studies in city planning and other areas of emerging interest. This course teaches students the basics in programming and game development in Unity through hands-on tutorials and the development of a unique game experience conceived and developed by each student.

With grounding in Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s theories about dialectical relationships driving public perceptions of art, politics, persuasion and culture, this course will examine a range of technological tensions that have been taken up by creative works of writing, filmmaking, music, activism and immersive theater. Each session will focus on one recurrent narrative theme in which the role of technology has tended toward utopian or dystopian visions in response to current events, economic incentives or sociopolitical factors. While some aspects of the course will be co-created with students, significant discussion and critique will be devoted to narratives about digital equity, privacy and surveillance, youth and technology, information quality and intellectual property.

This reading-intensive course delves into an extended historical case study of the British East India Company to examine the role of information as a lever of control at the state, national, corporate, and individual level. A research paper will apply selected social construct, societal, and identity theories to understand the complexity of wielding that lever. With contemporary examples of technologies provided, students will then produce a policy paper to advise a contemporary organization on its use of information levers. Finally, a comparative briefing will conclude the course, providing students with insight into how unique information levers allow for the manipulation of power at every level of society.

Using the outlook of finite and infinite game play, this in-depth survey course deconstructs examples of decision-making in the rise of President Trump, the spread of Genghis Khan, and the adoption of technological evolution. Through reading books, listening to a musical, writing weekly journal articles and a few short papers, this discourse-heavy class will provide students with the ability to understand and explain strategic leadership perspectives through the framework of communication, culture, and technology.

Whereas artists, engineers, and designers used to use pen and paper to draft their designs, they now look towards graphic and computer aided design softwares to simplify and speed up their workflow. Similarly, makers and creators now utilize digital fabrication machines such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers to directly turn their digital ideas into physical creations. In this course, students will be introduced to and engage with all aspects of the design and fabrication process, developing hands-on skills with several design softwares and digital fabrication machines.

Control of digital infrastructure has become a proxy for political power, mediating so much of importance in society from national security and the global economy to individual human rights and the future of truth. Public policy at these cyber control points is technically complex and carried out by a combination of governments, technical design communities, global coordinating institutions, and the rising power of private actors such as network operators and social media companies. Students taking Global Cyber Policy will examine the debates, technologies, and stakes of the global cyber policy flashpoints constructing our modern society.

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