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COM 441 | Social Media and Community Engagement | Fall 2019 | Aimée Knight, PhD  

T, TH 12:30 – 1:45 Merion 174 | Office Hours 1:45 – 3:15 Bronstein Annex 203 |

Course Description

Not-for-profit and community-based organizations rely on strategic digital communication to

create social change. Students in this course gain in-depth knowledge of communication theories
and practices while conducting research projects with local organizations through the Beautiful
Social Research Collaborative. Students in the course actively participate as a member of a project
team to complete projects with a community partner.

Course objectives

Objective 1: Collaboration

Students will develop their ability to work collaboratively in a variety of activities and settings both in and outside of the
Objective 2: Effective Communication

Students will be able to identify and employ a range of effective communication strategies to navigate
audience, purpose, and context.
Objective 3: Community Engagement

Students will expand their understanding and appreciation of the importance of being an actively engaged
community member, especially in terms of the role of non-profit organizations and society.
Objective 4: Reflection

Students will develop their understanding of the important role of reflection during the investigation, design, and
communication process.
Objective 5: Risk-taking

Students will know what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and
understanding of digital media and non-profit communications.
Course Readings - PDF Excerpts on Canvas

Aaker, Jennifer Lynn, et al. The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social
Change. 1st ed, Jossey-Bass, 2010.
Duarte, Nancy. Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences. Wiley, 2010.
Handley, Ann. Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. Wiley, 2014.
IDEO, editor. The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design: Design Kit. 1st. ed, IDEO, 2015.
Kanter, Beth, et al. Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World. First edition, Jossey-Bass, a
Wiley Imprint, 2012.
Kanter, Beth, and Allison H. Fine. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change. 1st ed, Jossey-
Bass, 2010.
Lambert, Joe, and H.Brooke Hessler. Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. Fifth edition, Revised and
updated, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.
Meehan, William F., and Kim Starkey Jonker. Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector.
Stanford Business Books, an imprint of Stanford University Press, 2018.
Sinek, Simon. Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You or Your Team. Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint
of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2017.
---. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Paperback ed. with a new preface and new
afterword, Portfolio, Penguin, 2011.
Vaynerchuk, Gary. Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too. First
Edition, HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
---. The Thank You Economy. 1st ed, Harper Business, 2011.

Course Materials

•  Adobe Creative Cloud Our classroom computers have this installed already, but you may wish to purchase a CC license). In
this course, we will primarily be using Photoshop. The library computers also have Adobe software. In a pinch, you can use
this open source method editor or this one for some of the more simple design activities.

• Headphones Bring headphones class, as we will sometimes be watching videos and self-directed tutorials.

COM 441 Social Media & Week 5 Week 11
Community Engagement T September 24 Chapter 5: Social Media T November 5 Group Work
Analysis Th November 7 Group Work
Fall 2019 12:30 – 1:45 Th September 26 Group Work
Merion 174 Week 12
Office Hours 1:45 – 3:15 Bronstein Week 6 T November 12 Chapter 7
Annex T October 1 Storytelling Th November 14 Group Work
Th October 3 Group Work
Week 1 Week 13
T August 27 Course introductions Week 7 T November 19 Group Work
Th August 29 Chapter 1: A Call to Action T October 8 Midterm Th November 21 Presentations
Th October 10 Midterm due
Week 2 Week 14
T September 3 P Chapter 2: Getting Week 8 T November 26 Presentations
Started; Partner Overview; Pre- T October 15 Fall Break Th November 28 Thanksgiving
evaluation Th October 17 Community Writing
Th September 5 Partner Placement; Conference; No class Week 15
group introductions T December 3 Community Partner
Week 9 Presentations
Week 3 T October 22 Social Objects Th December 5 Community Partner
T September 10 Chapter 3: Community Th October 24 Group Work Showcase (on campus)
Partner Project
Th September 12 Group Work Week 10 Week 16
T October 29 Chapter 6 T December 10 Reading Day
Week 4 Th October 31 Group Work December 11-17 Finals Week TBA

T September 17 Chapter 4: Case Studies
Th September 19 Group Work

Course Assignments and Evaluations

Assignments Due Date Evaluation

Reading Responses Weeks 2 - 14 15%

Writing and Social Media Posts Week 2 - 15 20%

Community Partner Project Weeks 2-16 50%

Final Exam Week 16 15%

Reading Responses  Individual evaluation. Reading responses are in-class writing activities which demonstrate your engagement
with the ideas in the assigned weekly course material. Your responses will contain observable signs of notable effort, thinking, and
involvement with the texts. An effective response demonstrates that you have thoroughly read and understood the material (or that
you ask and attempt to answer compelling questions that reveal careful reading). The responses will develop connections between the
material and the themes of the course and demonstrate that you have considered the implications of the materials. Although these are
not formal academic papers, they should be carefully written and cited nevertheless. Include direct quotes from the readings that
support your integration of the material. Be specific about the works you’re discussing, give details to back up any assertions you may
make, include references, page numbers, when appropriate. Finally, pay attention to grammar and mechanics. Reading responses are
short answers (typically 500 words of less). The responses entail a focused response within a limited scope. The grading system (A, B, C,
D, F) is designed to evaluate responses based on a narrow range of criteria:1) How thoroughly did you address the question/s in your
response? 2) Did you provide concrete and substantive evidence from the reading material to make your claims? 3) Is the writing clear
and concise? 4) Did you use appropriate citations using MLA guidelines? *In the case of tardiness, you will have less time to complete
the work.*In the case of an absence, you may submit the work on Canvas before you return to class.

Writing and Social Media Posts  Individual evaluation. To promote the integration of theory and practice,  we will engage in
various writing activities, some private, some public. Use vocabulary, concepts, and ideas from the reading material and any
additional course material to link theory with practice. Make it a habit to thoroughly relate your work with the readings. Assessment of
writing activities is ongoing throughout the semester. Late work is deducted 20% per day.

Community Partner Project

Group evaluation. Throughout the semester, groups will work on a digital media research project with a community partner. Each
project may differ in its goals and outcomes and will be evaluated on an individual basis. Mentoring by both fellows and professor will
lead each groups through a series of revisions, resulting in a completed project which is acceptable to all. During the last weeks of the
semester fellows and the instructor will review each group’s portfolio of work from this course. Each group will create a Case Study to
be posted online on the B:Social website. During the last weeks of class, groups will present their final case study and research
outcomes to their community partners and to the class.


Come to class fully prepared to engage in the exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to bring the necessary materials to class each
week. You will also need to access (and use) Canvas, Asana, and email. Save and backup all work at all times. It is also a good idea to
bring headphones to class, as we will sometimes be interacting with media-rich content.


Be here, on time. You are expected to attend class each week and be well prepared. We will often work on projects, watch videos,
conduct group work, and other activities during class time. There is no substitute for your presence during class. Significant absences
will hurt your grade because you will not be in class to participate and collaborate. I take attendance. You are allowed two absences (for
T, TH schedule classes). If you are absent more than two times you will automatically lose 10% of your final grade. If you miss 5 or more
classes, you will not pass the course. Lateness or leaving early is considered unprofessional and will affect your daily participation
grade by 10%.

Late Work

Late work is deducted 20% for each late day. If an assignment or project is posted after a deadline, it will be deducted 20%.

Office Hours and After Hours

I hope you will take advantage of my office hours. I am available to offer extended feedback on your projects (beyond the written
feedback you formally receive). You don’t need to have a problem to come visit, but if you do find yourself having some difficulty or
questions, then I certainly want to see you sooner rather than later. If you cannot make scheduled office hours, arrange to see me at
another time.

Equipment to check out

The COM Studies department has most of the equipment what you will need to complete course assignments. Everyone in the
department, including faculty, use the gear for their work, so it’s important that we all treat it kindly and return it on time. More details

Writing Center

The Saint Joseph’s University Writing Center is free to all members of the SJU community. The undergraduate and graduate student
writers who make up the staff can assist you in any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to organizing and developing your
ideas, to citing sources to proofreading. They work with students from across the university on a variety of assignments and projects:
lab reports, business policy papers, poems, essays, research papers, dissertations, resumes, and personal statements for graduate
school applications, among many others. You name it; they’ve helped writers write it. Both appointments and drop-in sessions are
available. The main Writing Center is located in 162 Merion Hall. The Center also has a satellite location in the Post Learning Commons
(room 128). For more information, including hours of operation and instructions on how to make an appointment, please visit the SJU
Writing Center website at

Academic honesty

If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source. This rule applies to all the course activities and
projects including reading responses, multimedia projects, and essays. How to cite a source will be discussed in class. St. Joseph’s
University’s academic honesty policy can be found here.

The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic Fail for this class and a letter of notification to the Committee on Discipline. If you are
suspected of plagiarism or an act of dishonesty, action will be taken. In all courses, each student has the responsibility to submit work
that is uniquely his or her own. All of this work must be done in accordance with established principles of academic integrity. Specific
violations of this responsibility include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Cheating, copying, or the offering or receiving of unauthorized assistance or information in examinations, tests, quizzes, reports,
assigned papers, or special assignments, as in computer programming, studio work, and the like.

• The fabrication or falsification of data, results, or sources for papers or reports

• Any action which destroys or alters the work of another student;The multiple submission of the same paper or report for
assignments more than one course without the prior written permission of each instructor;

• Plagiarism, the appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one’s
own to satisfy the requirements of a course.

Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired, either in part or in
whole, from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one’s own original work shall be considered plagiarism. All
students are directed to the standard manuals of style or reference guides for discussions of plagiarism and the means by which
sources are legitimately acknowledged, cited, quoted, paraphrased, and footnoted—whether presented in an oral report or in writing.

Rules regarding the use of information in this course

1) If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly, enclose it in quotation marks, and cite the source. If you use the
language of your source, quote the wording exactly. This is called a direct quotation. A direct quotation is either enclosed in quotation
marks or indented on the page. If you omit part of the wording, use an ellipsis (three periods, four if necessary for punctuation to
indicate the omission).

2) A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence structure and
word choice. Taking the basic structure from a source and substituting a few words is an unacceptable paraphrase and may be
construed as plagiarism. Creating a new sentence by merging the wording of two or more sources is also plagiarism.

Services for students with disabilities

Reasonable academic accommodations may be provided to students who submit appropriate documentation of their disability.
Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Christine Mecke in the Office of Student Disability Services, Bellarmine, B-10, at; or at 610.660.1774 for assistance with this issue. The university also provides an appeal/grievance procedure
regarding requested or offered reasonable accommodations through Dr. Mecke's office. More information can be found at: