Medill Undergraduate

The Pentagon, the Press and the People
(1-unit seminar, twice a year)

This course is a study of the often antagonistic and occasionally cozy relationship between the media and the U.S. military, its impact on American public opinion and the ways Americans try to inject themselves into the relationship. The course looks at coverage of current military engagements and the role of the military and the media in shaping national security and foreign policy. It also examines the impact of new communication technology on the relationships among the military, the media and citizens. Examples include how soldiers’ and their families’ blogs affect Pentagon policymaking, efforts by journalists and other watchdogs to provide context to the increasing amount of national security information available online and government efforts to both control information and promote its agenda. Among the topics are changes in social thinking and legal interpretation since 9/11 and the evolution of media-military relations through past wars. The class will include field trips to the Great Lakes Naval Station and such other sites as Chicago’s emergency command center. Senior officers from the Combined Arms Center/Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth would be regular speakers. Students will research recent media-military controversies and create case studies for the National Security Journalism Initiative Web site. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

Civil Liberties and National Security
(1-unit seminar, once a year in DC)

This seminar aims to increase knowledge and understanding of how national security threats have changed federal policy and the nature of the information the government collects about its citizens and how it uses it. The course also examines the balance that has been struck between individuals’ privacy and government access to personal information for the country’s security. Questions we will seek to answer: How has the need for increased national security changed privacy rights? What has been the effect of the Patriot Act? Speakers will include “No Place to Hide” author and Washington Post reporter Robert O’Harrow, at least one former CIA director and former National Security Agency officials. Tours of the CIA and Department of Homeland Security will be included. Students will create and post to a Civil Liberties blog on the National Security Journalism Initiative Web site. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.