About Our Curriculum

The Moody Honors Program curriculum consists of 15 credit hours (5 classes) designed to supplement major degree plans, with honors course work counting toward degree requirements or electives.

The courses in the program have been developed to provide a strong foundation in the intellectual traditions of the sciences and humanities, provide the opportunity to explore critical topics in communication fields, and to offer opportunities for independent research and writing. For all classes, emphasis is given to critical thinking, writing and discussion, and courses are taught by top instructors in the college.

The curriculum includes two interdisciplinary courses in critical thinking and dialogue, two special topics seminars, and a senior year experience. To accommodate the various interests and goals of our students, our capstone gives students three options for their culminating experience: a) a two-semester traditional academic thesis, b) a one-semester professional, creative, or community engagement project, or c) a personal reflection essay and extra seminar. To deepen students learning experience, each semester the honors program hosts special lectures and events with leading authors, communication professionals and scholars.

Stage 1: Foundations

In year one, students take two three-credit courses (6 hours) aimed at fostering a dynamic and supportive critical-thinking community.

COM 307H Life of the Mind (3 hours) – Taken first semester. This is an initiation into the Moody Honors Program's Socratic culture of critical thinking and open dialogue, where challenging questions are asked, assumptions are examined, and blind certainties are held up to the light.

COM 308H Life of the Community (3 hours) – Taken second semester. This course considers the meanings of community and the social responsibilities of communicators in a complex and changing world.

After year one, students complete 6 out of the required 15 credit hours in the Moody Honors Program. The remaining 9 hours are taken during a student's second, third, and fourth year.

Stage 2: Explorations

After the foundations courses in year one, students explore special topics in communication by taking between 1 - 3 special-topics seminars. The number of special-topics seminars students are required to take depends on what students choose for their capstone year (Thesis students take one, Project students two, Reflection students take three.)

COM 370H Special Topic (3-9 hours) – All honors seminars carry this course number. New seminar topics with top professors from every communication department are offered each year. 

These are small, discussion-oriented classes designed to foster critical thinking and dialogue around fundamental questions of communication and society. The topics themselves can be on anything relevant to our interdisciplinary communication fields, with an emphasis on advanced undergraduate writing and deep exploration of the specific topic.

If you are faculty, and wish to propose a special topics seminar, learn more here

Fall 2023 Special Topics Courses 

COM 370H - Cinema Lab Honors Seminar

Students in this course will explore the cinematic form through short exercises, filmed sketches and experiments, supported by discussions, screenings, readings and visits around Austin.

COM 370H - Social Media Law and Ethics 

Students in this course will examine social media regulation through legislative methods and informal social norms, prompting critical thinking about the role it plays in personal and professional life.

Spring 2023 Special Topics Courses 

COM 370H - Community Engagement Service Learning 

This course covers the study and practice of community engagement, advocacy, and service through classroom instruction, collaboration with community partners, and field experience with area communities.

COM 370H - Linguistic Diversity, Access, and Inclusion in Communication

The purpose of this course is to engage students in critical discourse surrounding language ideologies, linguistic diversity, access, and (mis)representation in the media. The course will cover concepts including dialect variation, multilingualism, linguistic discrimination, and language policy with an emphasis on Black English and communication across Disabled communities. 

Fall 2022 Special Topics Courses 

COM 370H - Communication in the Age of Surveillance 

Students in this course will discuss secure communication in the age of surveillance, and steps for minimizing the risks of data sharing among communication professionals and their clients when private consumer data is increasingly being collected and shared by both government and private industries. 

COM 370H - Power/Identity in Communication/Media

Students in this course will explore how identities shape and are shaped by media through the production and consumption of media and communication. 

Spring 2022 Special Topics Courses 

COM 370H - Collective Action 

This course examines how globalization and technology have impacted how people organize and communicate to achieve better collective outcomes about public good. 

COM 370H - Community Engagement Service Learning 

This course covers the study and practice of community engagement, advocacy, and service through classroom instruction, collaboration with community partners, and field experience with area communities. 

COM 370H - Hygiene/Politics of Waste

This course explores the ways news is presented, misrepresented and critiqued, with an emphasis on perceived bias in the news media. 

Fall 2021 Special Topics Courses

COM 370H - Black Issues in ADV/PR

This course explores cultural critiques, communication, and media scholarship related to historical and contemporary narratives about Black representation, systemic racism, stereotypes, Black activism, and more. Students also will discuss paths forward for improved representation of Black Americans in public relations and advertising practice. The course draws heavily on the intellectual diversity of Black American scholarship. 

COM 370H - Leadership and Public Narrative

This course helps students develop leadership skills by looking critically at narratives that surround institutions and social movements as well as the self-narratives they are developing during this important time in their lives. We explain public narrative, model it, and critique its positive and negative aspects which develop consciously and/or unconsciously. Students finish the course using behavioral ethics to examine and map their own public narratives, which they hone through team exercises and peer review. This is not a course in public speaking or branding. It is about learning a reflective process that translates authentic values into ethical actions that can guide others to achieve a shared purpose in the face of uncertainty.

*CLD 320 - Communication and Leadership in Higher Education 

*This class is open to honors students but seating is limited. Students who enroll in this course will need to submit a form to earn honors credit after the registration period. This course investigates the ways in which communication and leadership intersect with a range of audiences from students and faculty to parents and legislators. If in your journey through higher education you've ever thought to yourself, "I wish they communicated that better," this course is for you.

Spring 2021 Special Topics Courses

COM 370H - Neuroscience, Technology, and Communication

Thanks to technological breakthroughs, few areas of contemporary science have developed as rapidly or had such wide-ranging impact as neuroscience: the study of the human brain. But how does this science affect the study of communication? And how is this science communicated to the public? This team-taught course will cover recent technological breakthroughs in the neuroscience of communication and how the science of these breakthroughs is covered in mass media and specialized media. Topics will include innovations in brain-computer interfaces for speech and language, silent speech devices, and alternative or augmentative communication. In addition to studying original research and how it is presented in the media, students will create their own press materials to explain the science and its real-world impact.

COM 370H - Travelers’ Tales: The Art and Craft of Observing the World

From time out of hand, the intrepid among us have leapt beyond familiar boundaries, explored the wider world and then sought to describe the wonders (and horrors) they’ve encountered to people back home. Indeed, there’s nothing more human than the urge to explore. For communicators like us, this includes the urge to tell about it, for ourselves and our communities. This course will explore some of the history, evolution and modern practices of observing the world, with an eye toward critical questions that help us better understand the barriers to seeing the world more clearly and the challenges of explaining what we experience more deeply.

Fall 2020 Special Topics Courses

COM 370H - Data-Driven Storytelling

Data Analysis & Visualization will immerse students in an experiential learning environment to obtain hard skills regarding data exploration, analysis, and data visualization while discussing and reflecting upon the ever-increasing dependence on data in our society. Students will master hard skills, such as coding techniques, analytics techniques, and Tableau data visualization software, that will elevate students on the job market upon graduation. Additionally, students will regularly discuss and debate key issues involving the intersection of data and society, such as consumer privacy; privilege, power, and data; quantifying social influence; and the formulation of meaningful data protection regulations.

COM 370H - Visual Media, Culture, and Ethics

Whether in the form of cave paintings, photographs or digital animation, images have a role in the formation of our culture, ideology and social identity. This course explores the power of visual media in society, their production in media and the ethics of their use. This course covers the essential language of visual critique with the goal of helping students become more visually literate so that they can be better readers and creators of visual messages.

COM 370H - Finding Purpose Through Communication

This class offers a unique blend of introspective experiences that will shape students’ journey as they learn more about who they are. The class will be divided into two main sections: 1) Figuring out what is my purpose? (focusing on Internal Communication), and 2) Expressing/Pitching that purpose outwards (focusing on External Communication).

Spring 2020 Special Topics Courses

COM 370H - Rhetoric of Public Memory

This course will examine how public memory is created, shaped, and shared through processes and forms like commemorations, public speech, museum exhibits, historic sites, and monuments. Our goal is to begin to understand how public memory creates shared understanding about our past, present, future, our culture, and our national purpose. Although the focus in this class is American public memory, you will have an opportunity to explore the same types of practices in other cultures through your own projects.

COM 370H - Analyzing Media Bias

Critical analysis of the ways news is presented, misrepresented and critiqued, with an emphasis on perceived bias in the news media. The goals of media literacy have traditionally included teaching the ability to decode media messages and understand the media system producing them. This course addresses these goals by examining the traditional modes of journalistic knowledge production--including both strengths and historical blindspots--emphasizing contemporary problems (and opportunities) for journalism: including technological, political, and professional perspectives. These issues include increasing concerns over the rise of algorithm-based news selection, giant intermediaries for news distribution (e.g., Facebook, Google), populist attacks on journalists, trolling (domestic and foreign), and self-serving claims of “fake news.” Analyzing “bias” means engaging with perhaps the most common concern that the public thinks of when it comes to media.

COM 370H - Maymester: Global Public Relations Strategies - Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a cultural center of Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a global hub for communication, the arts, creative industries, sustainable infrastructure, and technology and international business. As the capitol of the Netherlands -- closely linked to neighboring cities the Hague, Rotterdam and Brussels -- it is also at the epicenter of international diplomacy and global trade. In this program, we will examine how Public relations strategy goes beyond the effective positioning of a brand or a product, as organizations must navigate social, economic and global change, sometimes making strategic decisions to advance change, stem negative impacts, or help influence opinion and drive change. 

Stage 3: Capstone

The capstone year is the culmination of students’ honors experience, offering an opportunity for students to build on their knowledge and put their skills to work via independent work. To accommodate the range of disciplines of our college and interests of students, three options are offered.

COM 679H Honors Thesis (6 hours) – Two semesters of independent research and writing under the guidance of Honors Thesis class and advisors.

COM 330H Honors Project (3 hours) – One semester independent creative, professional, academic or service project under the guidance of Honors class and outside consultant.

COM 040H Honors Reflection (0 hours) – For those who would rather take an additional seminar in lieu of the Thesis or Project. Requires enrolling in 0-credit Honors Reflection course to guide the completion of an independent Reflection Essay.

Current students can visit Canvas for more information about Capstone programming and each of the three Capstone options.