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Communication 353 A – Communication Ethics

Please click here to see when COM 353A is offered during the year.

Instructor: Janet J. Harszlak, Ph.D.
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Communication
Telephone: (716) 668-5323
UTAs: Marisha Blattberg, Elizabeth Brown

Textbook: Living Ethics: Across Media Platforms, by Michael Bugeja. Copyright 2008, Oxford University Press.  ISBN:978-0-19-518860-8

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this class, students should:

~ Know the terms, language, and major systems of ethical reasoning.
~ Develop an awareness of the criteria influencing the act of making and implementing ethical judgments and decisions.
~ Recognize ethical conflicts and situations arising in the different communication contexts.
~ Be able to create and use their own personal code of ethics.

About the Course

This class will address issues and information related to the ethical implementation of human communication, especially with regards to the media.  Just as communication is ubiquitous, so is the need for people and organizations to engage in ethical communication practices and interaction.  This class will explore the practice of ethics in different communication contexts and situations, and the influences affecting decisions (e.g., culture, power, disability).  The text and readings provided will give foundation information for the course interaction, assignments, and exercises.  Attendance is required; students are allowed one missed class and have one “screw-up”.  If you miss something because you are not here, enjoy the “F” grade for whatever you missed.  However, if you miss class for a valid reason, and let me or one of my UTAs know in advance, you may be able to make up any assignment missed.

I do not tend to lecture verbatim from the readings, but rather supplement them.  I always hated classes in which the professor just spat back what was in a text, or in a reading, without even a slight deviation.  (Or, even worse, read the chapters aloud in class!)  Activities, concepts, and other materials presented in class, in addition to what is in the readings, are the things upon which you will be tested.  Moreover, nearly half of your grade is directly linked to in-class activities. 

Exploring ethical practices in communication can be fun, but also explosive.  We must always respect each other’s right to have an opinion, even if that opinion differs from our own.  The ethical practice of communication is present in every aspect of our lives: in work, in relationships – even in our own self-images.  My goal as a teacher is to help you to learn how to recognize some of the influences in your lives and in society.

The Journalism Certificate Program