Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 526: Persuasion in American Life

Instructor: None assigned at this time

This course examines how American society is influenced by the advertising and public relations industries as well as the mass media, particularly the newspaper editorial page. The course will include a minimum of professor lecture and a maximum of professor-guided class discussion, along with the occasional guest speaker.

Course Materials

Michael Schudson, The Sociology of News.
Al and Laura Ries, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR.

Other materials will be distributed in class or placed on reserve at the Randall Library. In addition, daily reading of the Wilmington Star-News editorial page is strongly encouraged.


Written responses to discussion questions 50 points
Final exam 25 points
Class discussion 25 points

Final course grades will be based on the following scale:

92 + A 77-79 C+

89-91 A- 74-76 C

86-88 B+ 71-73 C-

83-85 B 68-70 D+

80-82 B- 65-67 D

62-64 D-

0-61 F

Course Components

WRITTEN RESPONSES TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (50 points): At each class meeting you will receive a set of discussion questions for the following week's class. In addition to being prepared to discuss your responses orally, you will also be required to submit written responses (computer-generated, single-spaced).

Each response will be graded pass-fail. In order to receive the full 50 points, you must receive passing marks on 95 percent of the questions provided. If you fall short of the 95 percent mark, your will receive one point for every two percent of your responses receiving passing marks: 94 percent = 47 points, 90 percent = 45 points, etc.

The preferred method of submitting papers is during class time and in-person. Partial credit will be given for papers submitted early, late, by another person in your absence, or as email attachments. Because the university's email filters often prevent us from opening attachments from outside sources, submitting papers by email is done at your own risk.

FINAL EXAM (25 points): An open-book, open-note essay exam based on a combination of discussion questions (save returned papers for this purpose) and textbook readings.

CLASS DISCUSSION (25 points): This score is based on attendance (based on the presumption that you have to be present in order to participate) and the depth and breadth of your contributions to our discussions. Quality is much more important than quantity, so don't just talk to be talking. Examples of appropriate contributions in this category include expressing well thought-out opinions on topics discussed in class and asking challenging questions of the professor, classmates, and guest speakers. Simply nodding your head, agreeing or disagreeing with the opinions of others, or stating the obvious does not count as class discussion. Examples:

22 - 25 Near-perfect attendance and outstanding contributions to class discussion.
18 -- 21 Substantial contributions to class discussion.
14 - 17 Mediocre contributions to class discussion.
10 - 13 Few contributions to class discussion.
00 - 9 No contributions to class discussion.

Students are encouraged to seek periodic updates on their point standing throughout the semester. It is your responsibility to understand the grade scale and know where you stand at all times.

Course Policies and Procedures

ATTENDANCE POLICY AND GRADE CEILINGS: To effectively study at the graduate level requires a high level of commitment. For this class, the following attendance policy is in effect: For two absences or fewer, there are no additional penalties other than loss of discussion points as described above. A third absence (regardless of the reason) will result in a final course grade no higher than a B. A fourth absence (regardless of the reason) will result in a final course grade no higher than a C. A fifth absence (regardless of the reason) will result in a final course grade no higher than a D. Six absences (regardless of the reason) will result in failure for the course.

Coming in late or leaving early will be counted as a partial absence. Note that there is no distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. If you have too many absences early in the semester, you will receive no sympathy later in the semester should you become ill or have a family emergency.

MAKE-UP OPPORTUNITIES: None for full credit; partial credit for assignments turned in late. If you are unable to take the final exam at the scheduled time, you will be given an incomplete and can take a more a difficult version of the exam in January.

TEACHING METHOD: This class is not taught using the traditional lecture/ note-taking model. Instead, the primary teaching method used in this class is the Socratic dialogue. That means that in order to encourage advance reading of the material and to stimulate discussion, students will be called upon at random to answer questions and offer opinions. Lack of preparation for such discussions and/or reluctance to participate in class discussions will affect your grade in the "class discussion" category. Shyness is not an excuse for lack of class participation.

Success in this class will require advanced preparation for each class meeting, consistent attendance, and full participation in class discussions.

OFFICE HOURS AND CONFERENCES: Office hours are listed on the first page of this syllabus. Students should meet with the professor during these times to discuss individual problems, concerns, suggestions, and questions as they arise.

ACADEMIC EXPECTATIONS: The university has recently adopted the following statement concerning academic expectations, and it will be the standard for most classes you take at this institution: "The UNCW learning experience is challenging and requires hard work. It also requires a commitment to make time available to do that hard work. The university expects you to make academics your highest priority by dedicating your time and energy to training your mind and acquiring knowledge. Academic success in critical thinking and problem-solving prepares you for the changes and challenges you will encounter in the future. Our faculty and academic support resources are readily available as partners in this effort, but the primary responsibility for learning is yours."

ACADEMIC HONESTY: UNCW's Academic Honor Code will be observed and enforced in this class. For more information, refer to the current Student Handbook and Code of Student Life. Examples of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to, plagiarism (presenting as your work the work of someone else without propercredit), giving or receiving information on tests or quizzes, and the unauthorized use of books or notes on tests or quizzes. Any work submitted under these circumstances will receive an automatic "F" grade with no opportunity for a make-up. In serious cases, students will receive a permanent "F" grade and will be reported to the Dean of Students for further disciplinary action.


Consult the written syllabus provided at the first class session.

Last Update: February 2, 2017