This first-year seminar introduces new Scholars to debates surrounding contemporary issues in communications studies and serves as a foundation for the Scholars' subsequent media studies and service commitments. Below is the current course description for the seminar.

Media, Service, and Social Change

Exploring the complex relationships between community service, and the field of media and communications, this seminar develops the Park Scholar Program’s first-year class into a learning community fluent in debates surrounding one of the key contemporary issues in how to effectively promote and create impactful social change. Students will read texts on civic engagement, cultural competency as well as civic media and media for social change. Students will expand their critical analysis skills through facilitated discussion, in-class presentations, written assignments and service learning projects. Scholars will investigate how various media and organizations not only respond to the urgent issues in our own country and the world, but are also implicated in its very processes. Through its focus on global and cultural awareness, and the social change that is possible, this seminar will serve as a foundation for the Park Scholars’ subsequent media studies and service commitments.

The seminar is divided into three sections. During the first section, “Civic Engagement and Servant Leadership,” students will explore the complex network of political, cultural, and ideological factors involved in the act of serving one’s community. Students will learn about Tompkins County, as well as the connections between the local situation and the national. While media will be generally discussed during these early weeks, it becomes the primary focus around which a series of debates will be examined during the seminar’s second section, “Media and Social Change”—an investigation into how certain contemporary phenomena (globalization, economic disparity, racial injustice, gender inequity) are impacted by media’s dimensions and the field of Communication. Finally, the third section, “Service Projects,” will address how, given what was learned in the earlier part of the semester, each Scholar can effectively make a positive impact and contribute to social change in their community.