COMM 255 : Free Expression and Public Assembly

Transcript title

Free Expression Public Assem



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Total contact hours


Lecture hours


Course Description

Provides a comprehensive overview of civic rights and responsibilities under Federal and State laws pertaining to free expression and public demonstrations.

Course learning outcomes

1. Explain the relevance of the first amendment.
2. Analyze various Supreme Court decisions re-defining free speech and assembly principles.
3. Identify resources and techniques for encouraging non-violent, collective action.
4. Articulate the correlation between using ethical communication and successfully appealing to large audiences.

Content outline

  1. Understanding Free Expression and Assembly
    1. Free Expression Principles:
      1. John Milton
      2. John Stuart Mill
    2. Role of Federal Govt. in Free Speech Issues—1st Amendment
    3. Role of State Govt. in Free Speech Issues—14th Amendment
    4. Legislative Law
      1. Constitution
      2. Congress
    5. Common Law
      1. Federal Courts
      2. Court Opinions
        1. From the Court
        2. Concurring Opinions
        3. Dissenting Opinions
      3. Landmark Decisions
    6. Challenges to Free Expression and Assembly
      1. Obscenity
      2. National Security
      3. Copyright
      4. Defamation
      5. Imminent Danger
  2. Practicing Free Expression and Assembly
    1. Hands on Activity Planning
      1. Practice democratic principles while advocating for Democracy (Sharp, Gene. From Dictatorship to Democracy)
      2. Student Interest—via discussion/pre-attendance survey
    2. Collective Action
      1. Participatory Decision-Making Techniques
        1. Consensus
        2. Principled Negotiation
        3. Standard Agenda
      2. Coordinated Issue-Research
      3. Proper Documentation of Research
      4. Information-Oriented Awareness-Raising Materials
        1. Public Space Messaging (individual): Signs, Clothing, Mime
        2. Public Space Messaging (group): Slogans, Chants, Songs, Dance, Theatrics
        3. Personal Space Messaging: Flyers, Cards, White Papers, Position Statements, Samizdats, Origami
      5. Interaction with Public
        1. Role Plays
        2. Debate Exercises
        3. Speech Preparation and Delivery
        4. Tolerance Drills
        5. Tabling
      6. Local Rules—State, Municipal, Parks and Recreation
    3. Review and Reflect Discuss/Debrief Compose Reflective Essay

Required materials

Key Free Expression texts: John Milton's "Areopagitica," Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy," US Constitution, selected court opinions.

General education/Related instruction lists

  • Arts and Letters

Outside of

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