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Visiting Professor, Joël Plouffe visits faculty’s classroom

Joel in COM 201

May 31, 2013

by Natalie Debray, Communications, UW Lecturer

In 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 warns that the resultant race for the treasure trove of natural resources in the Arctic is on. The questions posed to the audience are which country will get there first, and who really owns 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.

Natalie Debray is a Lecturer with the Department of Communication at the University of Washington 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.

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