Attn: Graduate Students, Coming This Summer – Communicating Innovation

Attn: Graduate Students, Coming This Summer – Communicating Innovation

This course represents a partnership between the Journalism School and the College of Engineering. It is part of the course offerings in the renewable energy graduate certificate program but it also has included MBA students who took part to better identify ways to communicate complex technological and scientific ideas and innovations. This class is designed for students in the sciences, business and communications who have not had previous strategic communications experience. Journalism graduate students in media innovation use the class as one of their electives and often take the class final project as a foundation for projects required for the degree. This course provides students with practical application of strategically communicating about new innovations with a focus on the area of renewable energy and other scientific industries. This includes current and future technological and environmental challenges of which renewable energy and other scientific technologies could be a solution. In general, this online course is designed to provide students with practical skills in designing solutions to communication problems.

Students will examine successful case studies on how innovators and entrepreneurs communicate new ideas to the public and key audiences, such as local, state, and federal policymakers and government agencies, citizen interest groups, and the business/investor community. In addition students will: develop an imaginary business related to renewable energy, do consumer research for the business and build a strategic communications campaign for it. Through this process students will learn key components of public relations, advertising and social media campaigns.

The overarching goal of this course is to help students develop leadership, project management, account planning, and consumer research and teamwork skills while working to solve communication problems. Students will develop an understanding of how to create and execute strong, strategic communication strategies that can be effective without big budgets. Because of the online and interactive nature of the class, students will develop ways to communicate ideas with colleagues and knowledge of strategic communications plans and the role they play in launching new projects and ideas.

The learning outcomes of ENGR 680 include:

  1. Make use of basic consumer research techniques as applied to strategic communications
  2. Incorporate verbal, written and visual communication skills in building a communications campaign
  3. Employ project management and teamwork skills in communicating new innovations to the public
  4. Analyze, discuss and apply current practices in advertising, public relations, social media and emerging technology marketing
  5. Integrate various strategic communications tactics for effective campaigns and recognize the importance of this integration.

The class is taught by Dr. Todd Felts, an assistant professor at the Reynolds School, and researcher on the entrepreneurial behaviors of innovators and strategic communication professionals. He spent nearly two decades working with innovators at strategic communications firms in Washington, DC,  as a press secretary to Gov. Jim Hunt of North Carolina and as the business development director of a large national law firm based in Atlanta, Ga.

The class is entirely online and goes for the 13 weeks between May and August, 2017.

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