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CMST 4D03 International Communication (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Lyndsey Beutin


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 309

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 25211

Office Hours: Thursdays 12-2pm

Course Objectives:

Course Description

On any given day, the news reports on the urgency of numerous international and global emergencies: refugee crises and unsafe migration, climate change and natural disasters, border walls, prison and detention camps, racial terror, food and water shortages, perpetual war, digital surveillance and interference. As a class, we will learn how to make sense of this geopolitical environment by considering how it came to be, what role global processes such as imperialism, colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and capitalism have played in it, and how communication technologies and strategies have both facilitated the uneven distribution of resources globally and have fostered community building, belonging, and solidarity across space and time.

This advanced seminar contextualizes international communication’s longstanding interest in globalization by studying the history and presents of the structures of power and oppression that shape modernity, alongside the ways that marginalized groups have navigated and resisted those systems through building community and solidarity locally and globally. We will deepen our understanding of contemporary unsafe migration, uneven international development, worker and environmental exploitation, human rights, and global white supremacy by connecting the histories and presents of global flows of people, ideas, and technologies with the structures that have forced, coerced, enhanced, or otherwise facilitated such movements.

Our class will address several questions: How and why have people chosen to move or been forced to move around the globe? How have forced, coerced, and voluntary migrants, in the past and the present, created a sense of belonging to multiple places and homes? Which communication technologies have assisted and hindered such community building projects? What stories have people told about these various relocations and dispossessions? What political agendas do such stories serve? Which representations gain widespread circulation and how do such representations affect our daily lives?

Together, we will grapple with the gravity of the relationships among communication, diaspora, dispossession, and belonging.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop critical thinking and writing skills and group facilitation skills.
  2. Connect historical and theoretical knowledge with contemporary social issues and media narratives.
  3. Understand social, cultural, economic, and political implications of global media.
  4. Analyze the relationships among history, globalization, media, society, and culture.
  5. Think critically about theoretical and empirical claims about global media.
  6. Tie together and/or rethink theories, research approaches, methods, and concepts from previous years.
  7. Consider how we engage with international media in our communities, and how we contribute in our communities to global communication issues;
  8. Appreciate the gravity of the relationships among racial slavery, settler colonialism, imperialism, and global white supremacy.
  9. Develop fluency with, and intellectual courage for, discussing difficult pasts and politically sensitive issues within group settings.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All readings are available on Avenue2Learn as PDFs. To the furthest extent possible, I will make all media materials available for free. In some cases, you may choose to pay to rent a film instead of viewing it at the library for your own convenience.

Method of Assessment:

Course Requirements

  • React/Reflect Paper: 15%
  • On the Media Podcast: 15%
  • CBC Pitch: 20%
  • Final Topic Exercise: 5%
  • Theoretical Framework Draft: 5%
  • Final Paper: 25%
  • Participation (including weekly discussion question post): 15%

Note: You must complete all assignments in order to pass the class.

Due Dates

  • Jan. 30 – React/Reflect Paper
  • Feb. 13 – On the Media Podcast
  • March 5 – CBC Pitch
  • March 12 – Final paper topic
  • March 26 – Theoretical Framework Draft (incl draft thesis statement)
  • April 16 – Final Paper Due


  1. Weekly Discussion Questions: Post one discussion question related to the readings each week to A2L by Wednesday at 5pm.
  2. React/Reflect (3-4 pgs): Do we need to study history to understand international communication? Why or Why not?
  3. On the Media Podcast (8 mins or 8 pgs): For each of the first 4-5 weeks of class, you will create a 2-minute (or 2-page) news commentary on one current event featured in the international news that week. Make sure to choose a variety of topics and news sources. Comment on how the news frames and presents the issue, whose perspective is being given priority, if and how contextual information is included in the story, and what sources are used. Is it an example of fake news or alternative facts? Why or why not? Combine all 4 commentaries and submit as a single podcast or Word file.
  4. CBC Pitch (5-6 pgs): Choose one concept, theory, or topic that we have covered in class and develop a radio or TV program that explains the concept for a non-academic, general public audience. Write a pitch for your show. Make sure to include its rationale (citing course texts), outline of the characters/plot/content, target audience, and projected production schedule.
  5. Final Paper – Media Analysis (8-10 pgs): Choose one media text (film, TV show, art exhibition, play, etc.), recent social movement, or current news event to analyze through 1-2 theoretical frameworks discussed in the course. Final project will develop in three stages: 1. Choose topic, follow the news and social media about it over the term, turn in one paragraph “topic” exercise. 2. Draft one-page theoretical framework that you will use to analyze your topic, defining the conceptual terms you are using and identifying the specifics of how they play out in your topic (must rely on course texts). Include a draft thesis statement. 3. Write final paper.
  6. Participation: As a class, we will work together and help each other to better understand the histories, policies, and contexts that shape the current state of international affairs. This course requires a lot of in-class and out-of-class participation, including taking risks and developing your intellectual courage. Your participation grade will consist of your attendance, your preparedness for class (all readings should be completed before class), verbal contributions to class discussions, individual contributions to in-class solo activities and small group work, and your weekly discussion question post.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Attendance and Participation

In order to build our community and work through difficult concepts, it is extremely important that you attend all class sessions. Since this is an advanced seminar, in-class participation is required for everyone to get the most out of the experience. More than 1 absence is grounds for receiving a ZERO for your participation grade (15% of final grade). Students are responsible for all assignments, instructions, lecture notes, etc. they may miss during an absence. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get notes from a classmate, and to be prepared for the next class meeting, with all assignments/readings ready. Do not expect the instructor to provide notes or to recap the material for you.

Class attendance also means that you are punctual, stay for the duration of class, and are prepared to participate in the class. You should come to class having read the readings listed for that class meeting. You should be actively engaged in group activities and discussions. If it becomes clear that students are not prepared for class and/or are engaging in inappropriate texting, online chat, etc. during class time, your participation grade will suffer. Regardless of absence, late arrival, or early departure, students are responsible for any announcements made at the beginning and/or end of class.

Late Assignments

If you are absent from class on the day that an assignment is due, you must email the instructor the assignment by the start of class that day to avoid deductions for lateness. I am very flexible with extensions for assignments in my seminar classes; however, you MUST communicate with me in advance of the due date. If you need an extension on a paper or project, you must email me to discuss the situation 24 hours before the paper is due. If I don’t hear from you in advance, late assignments will be subject to one full letter grade deduction for each day the assignment is late. (For example, an A paper turned in two days late becomes a C paper). Because the class moves quickly, late assignments will put you behind and you will have trouble catching up so try to adhere to stated deadlines.

Announcements & Adjustments

The instructor reserves the right to make adjustments in the schedule. Regardless of attendance, students are responsible for all announcements made in class, including adjustments to readings and assignments. Students are responsible for regularly checking A2L for any information that may be distributed online.

Format for Written Assignments

All written assignments must be typed in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with standard one-inch margins and in APA style format. Assignments must be printed out and submitted in class upon arrival on the stated due date, unless otherwise stated.

Classroom Technology

Laptops are allowed in class but must be for classroom activities and note-taking purposes only. Inappropriate technology use distracts you and your classmates and will not be permitted. Audio and video recording of class sessions is never permitted without prior consent.

Inclusive Learning Environment

I am committed to making my classroom a welcoming space for a wide spectrum of diverse learners and thinkers. The course will involve a high level of interaction. It is important that each individual is free to contribute and it is our collective responsibility to build trust, respect, and inclusion in the classroom. Any online interaction must also follow these guidelines. If you have a disability that may influence your performance in the course, please inform me so we can make appropriate accommodations. Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Research and Writing Help

Writing is hard. Research is time consuming. Everyone can benefit from seeking out the services at McMaster. For help with finding and accessing appropriate academic sources, please make a research appointment with a librarian. Online form: The Undergrad Writing Centre at the Student Success Centre offers a variety of services to improve your writing, the clarity of your argument, and your grammar. To book an appointment, visit:

For more information about drop-in hours or services, visit:

Office Hours

My office hours are for everyone! I encourage you to take advantage of them. Please make an effort to come once in the first month of the semester, which will help me get to know your interests. Please also be respectful of each other's time, especially when other students are waiting.

Online Course Content

In this course we will be using A2L. Students are responsible for checking A2L regularly for class communication and materials distributed online. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Authenticity/Plagiarism Detection

Students may be asked to submit papers through a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar "Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:


**The schedule and readings are subject to change**

Week 1 – Thurs. Jan. 9

Welcome & Community Building

Key Question: What do we mean when we say “international”?


Week 2 – Thurs. Jan. 16

New Big Questions, Old Power and Oppression

  • Juris, J. (2008). Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 6-18, 38-60.
  • McClintock, A. (1994). Soft-soaping empire: commodity racism and imperial advertising. Travellers'Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement. Routledge.

In class Workshop: Recording and Editing Audio, 10:15-11:15am, Lyons New Media Centre


Week 3 – Thurs. Jan. 23

When did globalization start? On history and structure

OPTIONAL: Kraidy, Marwan. (2018). Global Media Studies: A Critical Agenda. Journal of Communication 68(2018): 337-346.


Week 4 – Thurs. Jan. 30

Indigenous Media Responses

In class Screening: Sandiford, Mark (2006). Qallunaat! Why White People are Funny. [Film].

Discussion Question: What does it mean to speak of Canadian cultural sovereignty within communication policy in relation to indigenous sovereignty?


Week 5 – Thurs. Feb. 6

Diasporic Responses: Black Freedom Dreams

  • Commander, Michelle. (2017). Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic. Durham: Duke University Press. (Intro)
  • Boyce Davies, Carole. (2007). Towards an African Diaspora Citizenship: Politicizing an existing global geography. In Katherine McKittrick and Clyde Woods, Eds., Black Geographies and the Politics of Place. Toronto: Between the Lines Press.
  • Packet: International Appeals from Black Americans (pp. 567-584)


Week 6 – Thurs. Feb. 13

Transnationalism and Transmigration

  • Basch, L., Schiller, N.G., Szanton Blanc, C. (1994). Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation States, New York: Gordon and Breach. (Ch. 1 & 2).


Week 7 – Thurs. Feb. 20: Break – no class!


Week 8 – Thurs. Feb. 27

Pleasure Travels, Too: Pop Culture and Diasporic Tourism in Jamaica

  • Williams, Bianca. (2018). The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women, Diasporic Dreams, and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism. Durham: Duke University Press. (pp. 1-30).
  • OPTIONAL: Thomas, Deborah. (2006). Modern Blackness: Progress, “America,” and the Politics of Popular Culture in Jamaica. In Deborah Thomas and Kamari Clarke, Eds., Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 335-354.

In class: Session with Research Librarian at Connections Classroom in Mills Library, 10:15-11:20am. Please bring your laptop.


Week 9 – Thurs. March 5

Framing Libya & Mediterranean Migration


Week 10 – Thurs. March 12

Philanthropic News

In class: Screening Hasan Minhaj, Season 5, Episode 1: “Why Billionaires Won’t Save Us” (Netflix)


Week 11 – Thurs. March 19

Border Walls

  • Watch: Gonzalez, Juan. (2012). Harvest of Empire. [Film]. (on reserve in Mills)
  • Tamez, Margo. (2018). On Indigenous Resistance to the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall. In J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Ed. Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 293-311.
  • Listen: “Somebody is Going to Die”: Lawyer Describes Chaos, Illness, and Danger at Migrant Child Jail in Texas. (June 24, 2019). DemocracyNow!

OPTIONAL: View: Meléndez, E. (2010). Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the Dream. [Film].


Week 12 – Thurs. March 26

Fake News and Totalitarianism

In class: Thesis Statement Workshop


Week 13 – Thurs. April 2