Every semester UConn students enroll in COMM 3100 Persuasion with the intention of gaining 3 credits and a few new tricks to convince their friends to do things for them. This course does not teach students how to control the minds of others, but it does teach them how to use persuasion skills to impact causes that they are passionate about. The course assigns students a group project in which they create activist campaigns to carry out through the course of the semester. Students then promote their movement and present it to their peers at an event towards the end of the course. Some of the previous campaigns have consisted of clothing drives, campaigns against texting and driving, and organizations to promote diversity and confidence around campus.
The course gives opportunities to apply the theories that students read in textbooks to real world scenarios. Within the campaign, students hone in on their design and public relations skills by designing videos, flyers, social media accounts, and websites. Professors are not holding any hands in this course, students are given the freedom to harness their own creativity to design a campaign that they are passionate about. Each project is unique in many ways, allowing students to not be bound by their rubric, but rather set free by an assignment.
One of the professors teaching the course this semester, Professor Thomas Meade, stated that Persuasion is special because students can “leave the class with a sense of pride”. The course allows students to be involved with an organization on campus that they create, giving students a voice and an opportunity for that voice to be heard.
The outcomes of these projects have been phenomenal, consisting not only of the persuasion skills that the students gain, but also the impact that the campaigns make themselves whether they raise awareness, money, or supplies. Each campaign has a measurable outcome, meaning the students can see the direct impact they make on their cause. By encouraging students from other departments to come and join their efforts, they are showing the importance of the field of Communications to their peers. It is easy to see the effects of nurses, accountants, and engineers, and with this project, it is easy to see the impact that communication professionals have on the world.
Show your support for the students at their Project Showcase on December 7, from 5-7 pm in the Dodd Research Center.