COM 399   Media, Science, and Society


Dr. Elliot Gaines, Office: 411 Millett



Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30-10:10 p.m.

Room 060 University Hall


This syllabus will be revised as the course progresses.  See* below.

Required reading will be posted with library reserve


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a “special topics” course exploring a range of issues about media, science, and their effects on society.  The class will study communication strategies that produce effective representations of science for the non-scientist in popular media. Principles of media literacy will be applied to representations of science in order to promote critical thinking about media, science, and social discourse.



COURSE GOALS:  The goals of the class are to understand the culture of science and how scientists succeed in presenting topics to lay audiences. Students will gain understanding of the social impact of media representations with a specific focus on understanding science, scientific methods, the qualifications of experts, and differences between facts, beliefs, speculation, and opinions. 


*THIS COURSE IS A WORK-IN-PROGRESS: The Course Description and Course Goals will remain consistent, but this syllabus will develop as the course specifics change during the term. 


There will be class meetings and discussions, on-line assignments, group assignments, and on-line class meetings.

All assignments will be discussed in detail in class and posted on Course Studio.  All students are required to access their WSU email account and Course Studio for announcements, discussions, assignments, and personal contacts.

READINGS will be posted on Library Reserve and Course Studio.



Required activities will include reading, watching and listening to a variety of relevant media, searching for relevant media, and discussing ideas about media and science.  Students will be required to pass quizzes and turn in assignments related to readings, write research papers, and make presentations.

Students in this course are subject to attendance requirements and restrictions.  Specifically, anyone not attending the first week of class will be dropped.  Materials cannot be made-up.  Attendance and participation are required and affect grade points.


All students should be familiar with Wright State University’s policy on academic dishonesty. Cheating and plagiarism--submitting someone else’s work or ideas as your own--will not be tolerated.  Plagiarism will result in failure for an assignment and possibly failure in a final grade for the course.



COM 399 Grading:

Š     Quizzes and Knowledge Forms =   25 points

Š     Term papers  =   25 points

Š     Individual presentation  = 10 points

Š     Group presentation =  10 points

Š     Group assignments = 15 points.  

 Š       Attendance, participation = 20 points


Š Unprofessional behaviors or disturbances may result in a student being dismissed from the class.  Cell phone ringing, disturbances, or other inappropriate behavior = -20 points


Š       All questions about individual grades may be addressed during office hours.



GRADING POLICY:  Grades are based on meeting criteria specified in each assignment including timely completion of written assignments and presentations. All assignments will be collected at a designated time and date.  Deviations from assignment deadlines are not allowed unless permission from the professor is granted.


All questions about individual grades and individual progress may be addressed during office hours.  Grades and papers are not returned in class.  Individual meetings during office hours are advised.








COM 399 Schedule, Spring 2009


(Subject to change as the quarter progresses).


DATE                                   Activity


March. 31     Syllabus Introduction to the class

April 2            READ Stolzenburg (Library Reserve; see above))

April 7      READ Springer or Simestad, and Estes_1998(Course Studio)   

April 9            READ  Lewontin (Libr.)

April 14    READ  Sebeok (Libr), 

April 16          Screening      First paper due.

April 21    READ Rogers (Libr.)and Misunderstanding of Darwin (Course Studio)

April 23          Screening

April. 28    READ  Kuhn.     Second paper due.

April 30          Screening

May 5        READ  McLuhan

May 7             Screening

May 12    Third paper due

May 14    Final Discussion in Preparation for Presentations

May 19    Presentations

May 21    Presentations

May 26    Presentations  

May 28    Presentations         

June 2     Presentations

June 4     Presentations


Syllabus or schedule may be changed to meet the needs of the class.