Re: Health Risk Communication, An Online Course at CU-Denver (Graduate-Level)

Subject: Re: Health Risk Communication, An Online Course at CU-Denver (Graduate-Level)
From: Jim Stratman <jstratma -at- CARBON -dot- CUDENVER -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1996 16:36:29 -0700

Announcing! An On-Line Course From the M.S. in Technical Communication
Program, University of Colorado at Denver, Beginning January 20, 1997.

"Health Risk Communication: Theory, Research & Practice" (TC 5620) (3 credit

Enrollment is limited to 15 students. Don't be left out--enroll now !!

For more information concerning electronic registration, visit the "CU
On-Line" Web Site,

Or, call: (303) 779-9266 or (303) 556-2735.
Or, email: jstratma -at- carbon -dot- cudenver -dot- edu (James F. Stratman, Associate Professor)

Scholarships ARE available for CU-Online courses !
Tuition: $348 in-state ($116 per credit hr.); $885 out-of-state ($295 per
credit hour).

***************** Course Description and Requirements

Instructor: James F. Stratman, Associate Professor
Technical Communication Program
University of Colorado at Denver
Campus Box 176
Denver, CO 80217
Ph: (303) 556-2884
Email: jstratma -at- carbon -dot- cudenver -dot- edu


The purpose of this course is to acquaint students and working professionals
with contemporary theory, research and practice in health risk
communication, focusing especially on the health risks posed by
environmental hazards in Colorado and the intermountain west. Health risk
communication has become a specialized field of technical communication
study. The last 20 years have seen an explosion of communication research
aimed at helping people better understand the complex relationships between
their behavioral habits, their home and work environments, and risks to
their health. Intensive social and psychological research has focused upon
how people understand and think about "risk," and this research has profound
implications for technical communicators who--either incidentally or
professionally--must design documents, graphics or whole campaigns focusing
upon health hazards and environmental health risks.

Course Learning Activities

As is appropriate at the graduate-level, the course stresses 3 closely
related activities: 1) reading and understanding research studies in health
risk communication; 2) evaluating these studies for their validity and
significance; 3) applying the findings of these studies to the design of
communications in an effective and responsible way, in order to solve real
health risk problems. Students will be expected to complete a variety of
critical thinking tasks, sometimes collaboratively, sometimes individually.
These tasks include: responding to and conversing about weekly discussion
questions; synthesizing ongoing discussions and researching Websites related
to health risk communication projects; and developing 2 short and one longer
research/feasibility report concerning health risk communication artifacts
in an actual health risk controversy. We will examine a broad range of
health risk communication problems: from air pollution to pharmaceuticals to
occupational risks to nuclear radiation, among others.

Readings/Topics Focused

The health risk communication field is highly interdisciplinary. It draws
upon theory and empirical research
in cognitive and decision science, social psychology, conflict resolution
studies, persuasion research, and graphic and verbal document design. In
particular, we will cover the following research topics:

--What is risk ? Actual vs. perceived risk
--Source credibility effects
--Media effects in risk communication
--Receiver effects in risk communication
--Effects of qualitative vs. quantitative risk information
--Government efforts to regulate health risk communication
--Location and semantic variables in risk messages
--Theories of graphical perception relevant to displays of quantitative data
--Use of risk comparisons and risk "ladders"

A packet of required course readings may be ordered from the Auraria Book
Center on the CU-Denver campus, by calling toll free 1-800-232-5280. Use
requirements, visit the CU-Online Website, at

Prerequisites (Limit 15 Students)

We are especially interested in having professional health risk
communicators and risk managers participate. Otherwise, students must
qualify for graduate "special student" status at the University of Colorado
at Denver--i.e., you must have have completed a bachelor's degree at an
accredited four year institution. It is recommended (though not required)
that you have recently taken a graduate or advanced undergraduate course in
(at least) 2 of the following 3 areas: 1) behavioral research methods or
instructional design or persuasion theory; 2) technical writing or technical
editing or graphic/document design; 3) descriptive statistics.

For other information, visit the CU-Online Website, at

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