Originally posted: May 2013
In COM 201 Introduction to Communication I, students are introduced to the history of mass communication and how the usage of various traditional media have changed in the new media context. Additionally, as a requirement for the Communication major, this survey course introduces students to the discipline of communication and how communication scholars research and discuss the media and the ways in which the media are used by individuals and how they influence society. It is in this context that I invited visiting scholar, Joël Plouffe to come in and speak to my students (all 432 of them!) about how a key topic of the moment, the Arctic, is discussed in the media. Plouffe’s enthusiastic talk not only revealed his passion for the Arctic, but also his concern over how global warming and melting ice are for the first time creating broad accessibility into the pristine region. Plouffe warned that the resultant race for the treasure trove of natural resources in the Arctic is on. The questions posed to the audience are which oil and gas companies will operate there first, and who governs the Arctic? What are the potential outcomes? News coverage of the Arctic now appear with regular frequency in mainstream publications like the New York Times, but also in a plethora of lesser known blogs and regional outlets. For scholars in the field, the Arctic is not a newly discovered gem. But when and how did the Arctic become a trending topic with Facebook pages and Twitter feeds attesting to its popularity? Joel Plouffe provided an intriguing glimpse into this burgeoning region and students were able to see first-hand the concepts of Agenda Setting and Framing at work in an applied setting.
Joël Plouffe, Research Fellow, Center for the United States and Center for Geopolitical Studies, Raoul Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, is the U.W.’s 2012-13 Guest Professor from Québec. Joël co-taught the Task Force on Arctic Policy, Plan Nord and Plan Nunavik, provided the Québec Visiting Professor Lecture, and co-chair a symposium on Québec’s role in the Arctic.
Natalie Debray is a Lecturer with the Department of Communication and affiliated faculty of Canadian Studies where she is currently teaching, COM 321/POLS 330 Communication and International Relations, including considerable content on media in Québec. Natalie is an affiliated faculty of the Center. She was a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow (French) in summers 2001 and 2001 and the 2001-02 academic year.