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    Oct 01, 2023  
American University Catalog 2019-2020 
American University Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

SOC General Information

SOC Centers and Institutes

The Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), is an innovation lab and research center that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact. Focusing on independent, documentary and public media, as well as entertainment storytelling, the Center bridges boundaries between scholars, producers, and communication practitioners across media production, media impact, public policy, and audience engagement. The Center produces resources for the field and academic research; convenes conferences and events; and works collaboratively to understand and design media that matter. CMSI is directed by Professor Caty Borum Chattoo and was founded by Patricia Aufderheide in 2001. For more information, go to

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking (CEF) is one of the leading environmental and wildlife film programs in the world. CEF believes that innovative media making can inform, inspire, and empower people to engage in the critical environmental challenges faced today. The mission is to advance documentary filmmaking, photography and new forms of immersive and interactive media as vital catalysts for raising awareness, promoting solutions and mobilizing movements. CEF is committed to finding new ways to diversify the field, address inequality, and engage new audiences. The center provides an outstanding array of courses, experimental learning opportunities, creative media labs, film and speaker series, and internships. In addition to accomplished and award-winning faculty, CEF partners with conservation and advocacy organizations, media companies, and a vast network of experts, scholars, and policymakers. Join CEF in creating high impact storytelling that truly makes a difference. For more information, go to

The Investigative Reporting Workshop is a nonprofit, professional news organization publishing in-depth stories about government and corporate accountability, from the environment and health to national security and the economy. The Workshop pairs experienced professional reporters with graduate students and co-publishes with mainstream media partners and nonprofit newsrooms, including PBS Frontline and The Washington Post. The Workshop helped develop the American Press Institute’s guiding principles for nonprofit newsrooms. For more information, go to

The AU Foreign Correspondence Network (FCN) provides tools and guidance for students seeking to work as journalists and filmmakers overseas. A platform for the study of international news coverage, the FCN is bolstered by AU’s partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It is maintained by Professor Bill Gentile, former foreign correspondent for United Press International (UPI) and Newsweek magazine. For more information, go to

The American University Game Lab serves as a hub for experiential education, game research and innovative production. The Game Lab educates leaders in this field through a Games and Interactive Media (MFA) , Game Design (MA)  and a Game Design (Graduate Certificate) . The Game Lab also operates the Game Studio that works with paying external clients in education, health, social policy, journalism, and a variety of other fields to produce games for non-game contexts. The Game Lab brings together students and faculty from across the institution and is jointly administered by the School of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences . For more information, go to

The Internet Governance Lab is a campus-wide intellectual center that addresses the implications of cyber policy on society and the economy. The Lab’s mission is to advance the marketplace of ideas with original research, to inform policymakers and the public, and to train the next generation of thought leaders in the area of Internet Governance area. The lab is led by Faculty Directors Dr. Laura DeNardis (SOC), Dr. Derrick Cogburn (SIS), and Dr. Nanette Levinson (SIS). For more information, go to

Student Opportunities and Programs

Career Development

All students are supported through their stages of career development, which includes learning about personal skills, values and personality; exploring majors and careers; selecting coursework to align with academic and career goals; learning about the internship and job search and application process; successfully completing and learning from internship experiences; and seeking jobs post-graduation. Many students utilize formal assistance in these areas provided by the AU Career Center as well as more informal assistance from SOC professors.

SOC Dean’s Internship Program

The School of Communication has a distinct advantage among top competitive peer institutions for the experiential learning opportunities offered with our world-class partners. Top students are recommended by faculty for the Dean’s Internship Program. Premiere partners select Dean’s Interns to work with their organizations on substantive, real-world assignments that provide Dean’s Interns with recognition and future pathways to jobs. Dean’s Intern host sites include The Washington Post, NBC, WAMU, NPR, Weber Shandwick, APCO Worldwide, the Smithsonian Institution, and USA Today. For more information, go to

SOC L.A. Intensive Program

The SOC L.A. Intensive provides unparalleled Hollywood access along with crucial knowledge and the opportunity to build integral relationships for students who wish to locate to the Los Angeles area as media and entertainment professionals. This competitive program connects juniors, seniors, graduate students and recent alums (having graduated within the past two years) with alumni and industry professionals through site visits, meetings, panel discussions and social events. Application is in October for May participation. Length of program: 1 week. For more information, go to

NY Career Intensive

Designed for career exploration and in-depth networking, the annual NY Career Intensive offers a select cohort of up to 25 students’ exposure to career paths and industry leaders in various communication fields from PR to News to Film. Attendees gain access to a range of high-profile media organizations through in-depth site visits over the course of the two days and have the opportunity for exclusive access with New York-based alumni including at a special student-alumni networking event. The trip occurs in January the week before classes start and is co-sponsored by The Career Center, the School of Communication, the Kogod School of Business, and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. It is two days long and requires minimal expense.

SOC Alumni Mentor Program

SOC’s Alumni Mentor Program bridges the gap between the classroom and the professional world as students prepare for future careers in the ever-changing field of communication. Each year SOC students who are admitted into the Alumni Mentor Program are paired with top SOC alumni for career advice through a partnership between the School of Communication, AU Career Center, and SOC Development Team. Whether it is helping mentees meet short and long-term career goals, sharing tips to improve resumes and portfolios or helping students network their way into the communication field, professional mentors are an invaluable source of knowledge and experience for students.

SOC Student Ambassadors

The SOC Student Ambassadors are a select group of current undergraduate students in the School of Communication. They provide leadership in recruitment, assist new students in the transition to college, and engage in community building. SOC Student Ambassadors serve under a three-part mission:

(1) To serve as a recruitment team, sharing personal experiences and insights with prospective SOC students;
(2) To serve as mentors for SOC first year and transfer students, aiding in the successful transition to AU and SOC; 
(3) To serve as a community building team, bringing together current students in the School of Communication.

SOC Ambassadors are an active and integral part of the community. The Ambassador team initiates and coordinates events and activities to the broader AU, SOC, and communication community in the spirit of celebration, education, and growth. All are welcome to participate in and/or contribute to the creation of activities that celebrate the excellence of the AU School of Communication. More information:

Involvement in Student Clubs and Organizations

The School of Communication is committed to creating involvement experiences that engage students through college transitions, traditions, leadership development, and community building opportunities. Engagements both inside and outside of the classroom help students develop life skills that will bring success during the collegiate career and into the future.   

Though not officially governed by any academic unit, student-run organizations are an important method of engaging with the AU community outside of the classroom. Involvement in these organizations provides peer support, an opportunity to utilize skills learned in the classroom, personal and professional development, and space to develop the ability to critically evaluate information in order to make good decisions.

Many students in the School of Communication seek out AU Student Media organizations such as The Eagle, ATV, AmLit, the Blackprint, and more. Other student organizations popular in the School of Communication include the Public Relations Student Society of American University, AU’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Delta Kappa Alpha film fraternity, and more. More information:

Study Abroad (AU Abroad)

AU Abroad offers the opportunity for students to study abroad and gain full American University course credit. All students are encouraged to learn and work in another culture. For more information on AU Abroad programs, call 202-885-1320 or 866-313-0757, e-mail or go to:

Visions Awards

The Visions Awards celebrate the best in film, video, photography, and new media being created by SOC students. Held at the end of every spring semester, Visions is a chance to showcase outstanding work and bring the SOC community together with faculty, students, and outside sponsors. Students and work from all skill levels receive recognition for the best work in documentary, fiction, digital/new media production, screenwriting, photography and more.  More information:

SOC Professional Partnerships

In The Washington Post Practicum, graduate students selected in a competitive process each spring, spend as long as a year in a class that takes them inside the investigative team of one of the nation’s leading newspapers. Students work along side Post reporters and a Pulitzer Prize-winning SOC faculty member, to learn how to research, write and fact check major investigative stories.

Named Fellowships SOC graduate students may apply for a number of named fellowships.