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: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 17:52:44 -0700

Attention Technical, Public Health, and Environmental Communicators !

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


The purpose of this course is to acquaint students and working professionals
with contemporary theory, research and practice in health risk
communication. 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.

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

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
projects; and developing 2 short and one longer research/feasibility report
concerning health risk communication artifacts in an actual health risk
We will examine a broad range of health risk communication problems: from
air pollution
to pharmaceuticals to occupational risks to nuclear radiation, among others.

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. Qualified undergraduates may also enroll
with instructor permission. 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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