CMN 396

Capstone Seminar in Communication

Winter 2013 (Wednesday 6-9:15pm Arts & Letters Hall Room 301)


Dr. Daniel Makagon                                                              

LPC Office: SAC 59? (Please note that this is a temporary office. My permanent office is in 14 E Jackson #1828 and I will do my office hour in the classroom.)

Office Hours: Wednesday 9:15-10:15 PM

Phone: (312) 362-7979


home page:


Course Description


This course fulfills your senior year requirement of the Liberal Studies Core. It is taught by the College of Communication for its majors, but you will receive Liberal Studies credit rather than Communication credit. The purpose of this course is to provide a transition between undergraduate education and either the world of work or movement into a professional or graduate program and to link communication skills, knowledge, and competencies with liberal arts and sciences as you contemplate major issues facing our society. Students will be asked to reflect upon these issues, drawing from not only the readings but also an undergraduate education at DePaul, both in liberal arts and the major. Students will select the topics/themes for the second half of the quarter.

Course Objectives


This course is designed to allow students to reflect on the learning derived from their undergraduate education (liberal studies, major, and minor) in order to reach theory-based conclusions about self-identity, social relationships, liberal education, and future directions. Thinking abilities (analysis, synthesis, critical thinking, and evaluation), discussion abilities, written competencies, interdisciplinary connections, disciplinary learning, ethical issues, and theoretical applications also serve as underpinnings to both course content and pedagogy.


The objectives are as follows:


1. Students will identify sources that were meaningful in their educational formation, and dialogue with others about the impact and significance of these sources, including multicultural perspectives.


2. Students will utilize skills in close reading, analysis, critical thinking, writing, and small group communication in a senior experience that nurtures cross-disciplinary appreciation, and independent synthesis.


3. Students will structure and complete a learning activity deemed personally significant, and thereby, clarify the connection between course studies, critical and creative thinking, and life applications.


4. Students will demonstrate presentational competencies through this capstone project.



Course Organization


This course is a seminar in which we all read selected materials and discuss them and their relevance to our lives. For discussion to be rich and fruitful, it is imperative that we read the assignments carefully and contemplate questions and comments about them. You also should come to class prepared not only to engage the readings fully but also to make connections among readings from week to week and to move beyond the readings to your previous coursework, your lives, experiences, hopes, and dreams. During sessions two through four we will cover instructor chosen readings and activities to engage the topics. The fifth and sixth sessions will be used for individual appointments with the instructor, the outcome of which is an accepted proposal for your senior project. The seventh session will cover instructor chosen readings and activities. After session seven, we move into the portion of the course that is student driven. For the next three weeks (sessions eight, nine, and ten), while you concentrate on finishing your senior project, we will cover theme-driven, student-selected readings and media events that allow you to share meaningful materials with one another while we continue the seminar. Students will be responsible for identifying themes and working in groups to select materials for those three weeks. Each theme-related group will plan the class for the night of their topic and lead the activities and discussions.


Required Readings


All course readings are available on-line. Download and print the files.


Readings for group presentations will not be available until we begin group sessions. These readings will include all of the materials from the three student groups for sessions 8, 9 and 10.


You are required to complete the reading assignments before you attend class. This will lead to more fruitful discussion.




There are four graded aspects to this course, which are weighted as follows:


Participation                                                    10%

Quizzes                                                           15%

Course Leadership Group Teaching Session  35%

Senior Paper (6-8 pages)                                 40%



We will take multiple-choice quizzes for each reading. When group presentations occur, each group will create a quiz on their readings. Groups will provide a range of multiple-choice questions. I will select the questions from each group's suggested list.

Course Leadership Teaching Session


Each student will join one of three groups who will be responsible for a class session in the second half of the quarter. Students will select the three topics to be covered and join one group during the first class session. Groups may not divide up a huge topic and have six or seven different presenters (i.e., have everyone do their own thing). Rather, the class sessions should be thematic and smooth. You are teaching a class, not creating 5-7 distinct PowerPoint presentations.


The responsibilities of the group will be to plan the class sessions:


1.     Your group will select the readings (use the page counts for my assigned readings as a guide) and any other materials or activities to be used that evening. All materials that need to be scanned for the class must be delivered to me by the date listed in the course schedule below. Originals need to be single-sided, legible, and clean (not underlined and marked up). (If you are scanning your own materials, make sure the scans are of clean copies and you scan in black and white/text-line art—not grayscale or in color unless it is impossible to read B/W—at 200 to 300 DPI. Email me the scans so I can put them in the folder.)


2.     Confirm that students did the readings by developing a quiz for the class to take (and provide me with a key for the quiz with which to grade it). Your quiz should contain multiple-choice questions, and you should provide me with more questions than will be used. I will select which questions will be on the quiz the students take and will Xerox the quiz for the class.


3.     Create and lead the discussions and/or exercises appropriate to the topic. Here the team has two primary objectives: (1) to teach the class about the subject at hand in a way that stimulates class discussion and encourages many students participate, and (2) to create an interactive learning environment that connects to various learning styles. (NOTE: Do not simply lecture about the material to the class; you are teaching us rather than developing 5-7 different presentations.) Your teaching session is not the representation of 5-7 different topics. Instead, the group should agree on 2-4 central sub-topics related to the larger group topic. Then develop a lesson plan that can best teach the class about the sub-topics and main theme.


4.     Evaluate yourself and people within your group. My own and your classmates' evaluations of the group presentation will be added to the grades you generate.


NOTE: Each group has the right to kick out a non-participating member. Any member kicked out of their group automatically loses the points for this group project (35% of your total grade). The group should exercise EVERY means possible for getting the group member to do his/her part. In the event that the individual still does not participate, the group should speak with me before kicking out the member.


I am more than happy to work with your groups if you would like my input.


5.     You will turn in a written agenda and analysis of the readings. Type a 3-5 page (double-spaced) report. Analysis: Do not simply summarize the reading materials, but indicate why you chose them (connections to liberal studies, communication, and the topic) and provide your own critical thinking and in-depth analysis of the readings. Agenda: Create an agenda for leading the class discussion. Be specific in describing what you will say to the class, the questions you will ask, and your procedures for conducting any activities. (NOTE: Do not just list what you plan to do; instead, provide a rationale for each step of your group's session. Also, this is one paper for the entire group, not a paper for each group member.)


Grades are based on the following percentages: My evaluation of your presentation (50%), My evaluation of your written agenda (30%), peer evaluations (10%), class evaluations (10%).


Senior Paper

This course provides the opportunity for you to critically examine your desired career choice through textual research and qualitative fieldwork interviews with people in your chosen area. You should submit a brief proposal (2-3 pages) during the third session of the quarter. Your proposal should clearly state what you intend to do, summarize your data sources, and present a general timeline for completion. This should be written in the form of an essay, not written as an outline. I will meet with students during sessions 5 and 6 to discuss proposals.


Your 6-8 page final paper should critically examine your career choice. You should build a case that argues for what it takes to succeed in your area. Additionally, you should address how a liberal arts-based communication education is connected to these goals. Your support material should come from published research, trade publications, and interviews (either in person, on the phone, or via email). Cite all sources. I expect at least 3 interview citations and at least 7 reputable published sources. You need to include a bibliography/works cited/endnotes or footnotes depending on your citation manual. This should include citation of interviews per your style manual--usually available on-line for most simple types of citations, as would be used for this paper, or you can see a reference librarian at the Richardson Library or Loop library.


I should be clear that this is a critical examination of the career itself, not an autobiographical tale. The point is to understand the connection between a formal education and a way of life. Although the paper is clearly about your career choice, anyone should be able to read the paper and gain some sense of how a DePaul education prepares someone for this career and what it would take to be successful in the area discussed in the paper. You are ultimately trying to strike a balance between writing about success in the career itself and preparation for this career given a liberal arts-based communication education at DePaul and also writing about yourself, which is, understandably, a tricky balance. You can start things off in terms of that balance by writing an introduction that frames the career itself and a DePaul education: (1) start with something that grabs a reader's attention and frames the career more generally, (2) narrow to a statement about how DePaul prepares one for this career, (3) discuss some broader way in which success is measured in this field relative to some position within the field, and (4) state a thesis that rolls into a preview (e.g., given solid preparation at DePaul one could expect to succeed in this career if w, x, y, and z happen). Then into the body, where w, x, y, and z are explained, framed via an education at DePaul, and applied to your life/strengths/interests/experiences/goals/hopes.


In short, the paper should have some balance between explaining the career itself, discussing what it takes to succeed given your literature review and interviews, framed via preparation at DePaul, and applied to your life. Following this kind of structure will help you keep a balance between creating this road map for succeeding in the career and also writing through how you can do it (i.e., not writing a straight memoir). Of course, excellent papers can have a clear structure but also flow in creative ways that don't feel (or read) so stiff.


This paper will be graded in two parts: proposal = 5% and final paper = 35%.


Written Assignment Requirements


All papers should be typed, double-spaced throughout the entire essay, and use a consistent style (e.g., MLA, APA, etc.). Use one-inch margins and 12-point font. I do not accept electronic copies of student work. See the syllabus addendum (available in the folder that contains pdfs for this class) for a description of my grading policies and expectations as well as further details on written assignments.


For assistance with your writing, contact or visit the Writing Center: Lincoln Park at 773-325-4272 and The Loop at 312-362-6726.


Course Policies


Promptness is expected as a general rule. If you are consistently late to class, your grade will be negatively affected.


Attendance and Active Participation are expected and required. Participation grades are factored by considering how often you participate in class discussion (both in the class and in the field) and how that discussion advances our overall learning (i.e., I will consider how your questions help us understand difficult reading passages, how your contributions further discussion rather than hinder discussion, how your comments foster lively debate, how your participation grows from an engagement with the reading and urban experience rather than functioning to advance an autobiographical tale only). In short, I assess participation based on quantity and quality.


You are allowed one absence in this class. If you miss more than one class sessions, which means you have missed 20% of the class, you will receive an "F' in the class (even if the absences are excused). Missing this many class sessions undermines the integrity of the classroom experience. If you miss this much class because of illness or a family emergency, you should meet with the Dean of Students to discuss withdrawal options. Leaving before the class ends or arriving more than 10 minutes late is an absence.


All assignments are due on assigned days and in class. There will be NO MAKE-UPS. Documented illness or documented emergencies are the only exception to this policy. Changes in work schedules, personal celebrations (e.g., birthdays), assignments due in other classes, car problems/EL congestion, etc. are NOT considered to be legitimate reasons for missing deadlines or class meetings. If you have an excused absence (documented medical illness, legal emergency, or official university business only) for a class session when you would turn in a paper then you can submit the paper on the next date you attend class. If you miss a quiz, and your absence is excused, contact me to make arrangements to make up the quiz. (Note: If you will be missing a class because of a religious holiday, let me know in writing at least two weeks before the holiday so we can make arrangements to make up missed work.)


Students with disabilities should provide documentation from the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) #370, Student Center, LPC or call (773) 325-1677. 


Cellular Phones: If you have a cellular phone or pager, turn it off or set it to vibrate, and keep it in your backpack or purse. All cell phones must be put away during the class session. I will confiscate cellular phones for the remainder of the class session if you are sending or reading text messages or using your phone to check email/surf the Internet.


E-mail: I often send e-mail announcements to the class. You need to (1) make sure your preferred email address in Campus Connect is the address you check regularly so messages do not bounce back and (2) make sure my email address will pass through your spam filter.




I have often found that plagiarism becomes tempting if students are feeling pressured. Remember, when in doubt quote. If you are quoting someone else in your presentation, you need to clearly identify the information as a quote and the source. Similarly, when paraphrasing, you should clearly identify your source. If you are quoting somebody directly in your paper then you need to list the information within quotation marks and cite a page number. If you are paraphrasing then you need to cite the person and a page number. Never copy and paste entire documents into your paper and do not quote others to the point where your ideas become indistinguishable from your source's ideas. There is no reason to plagiarize given the resources available to you (e.g., opportunities to meet with me; coaches in the writing center; my handout on writing for the class; and DePaul's policy on academic integrity, which can be found at If you do plagiarize, you will automatically receive a grade of "F" in this class. Moreover, the Academic Affairs office will be contacted.

Grade Scale


93-100 A, 90-92 A-, 88-89 B+, 83-87 B, 80-82 B-, 78-79 C+, 73-77 C, 70-72 C-, 60-69 D, 0-59 F

(I do not assign incompletes)

Tentative Course Schedule



1/9                   Course Introduction   

                        Selection of course leadership groups




The Value of a Liberal Education


1/16                 John Agresto, "The Public Value of the Liberal Arts"

                        Mark Edmundson, "On Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students"

                        Earl Shorris, "In the Hands of the Restless Poor"


Urban Scrounging


1/23                 Jeff Ferrell, Empire of Scrounge (excerpts)


Career Opportunities Part I


1/30                 Guest Speaker: Michael Elias

                        Read: "7 Things That Don't Belong in an Email"

"Don't Let Facebook Ruin Your Job Search"

Sherry Roberts and Terry Roach, "Social Networking Web SitesÉ"

"What would I Find in Your Refrigerator"

"What to Ask at a Job Interview"

                        Proposals for Senior Projects Due 6PM in class


2/6                   Individual Project meetings with me (in classroom)

All groups should be meeting and working in preparation for the group-led classes (and getting your reading packet finalized to be handed in next week)


2/13                 Individual Project meetings with me (in classroom)

All groups should be meeting and working in preparation for the group-led classes (and getting your reading packet finalized to be handed in next week)


Career Opportunities Part II


2/20                 Guest Speaker: Ed Childs

                        Read: Katherine Hansen, "Ten Ways to Market Your Liberal Arts Degree"

Stephanie Clifford, et al., "The New Science of Hiring"

Randall Hansen and Katherine Hansen, "Your First Days Working at a New Job"

                        ** Scans due to me



Group Leadership Sessions


2/27                 Group Presentation


3/6                   Group Presentation


3/13                 Group Presentation


Final Papers


3/20                 Senior Papers due by 6:00PM via email (Hard copies with SASE to 18 E Jackson if you want typed comments)