Course Description

470.732 - Communications and Congress

We're living in a capital city the founders wouldn't even recognize. In recent years the Capitol itself has been outfitted with state of the art green screens, fiber optic cables, minutely pixelated cameras and new, polished studios where politicians of all stripes roll out proposals that are instantly disseminated to their supporters on multiple mediums, including in email blasts begging for campaign contributions. After a brief exploration of the history of political communications, the course will quickly pivot into a real-time examination and training session for surviving - even thriving - in the contemporary world of communications. The course will instill in students the dire need to stay focused on good policy. While students will leave equipped with the tools that will enable them to thrive in this hyper-partisan atmosphere, the hope of the course is to help Hopkins students stand out as policy focused experts in this soundbite-dominated era. The instructor is a veteran congressional reporter who is offering to bring students enrolled in his course with him to attend press conferences and/or hearings, to witness key votes from the press galleries overlooking the House and Senate floors and to study how reporters and politicians interact inside the marble halls of the Capitol. Students will be offered a front row seat to witness the contemporary congressional communications apparatus in person (some students may not be able to take time off work to accompany the professor to the Capitol, which is fine because they can catch up on those events later on C-SPAN, though students are encouraged to shadow him on the Hill for at least one day during the semester, though some may opt for spending more than one day with him). The main focus is on training students to be communications experts in this new, digital world. Students will have one main project during the semester that will require them to develop their own messaging campaign simultaneously on multiple m