CCI ‘Media and Movements’

Experiential learning series to debut in Spring 2018 with focus on Ohio’s opioid epidemic

The College of Communication and Information has created a series of high-impact, immersive educational experiences that debuts this upcoming spring semester. The “Media and Movements” initiative will enable CCI undergraduate and graduate students to apply their communication, research, multimedia storytelling, design, advocacy, data, information and knowledge management skills to significant and highly relevant social issues.

“Media and Movements” is driven by an essential idea:  Social movements rely upon communication and information to attract and unify members, educate the public, galvanize supporters and create enduring and meaningful change. To achieve these aims, social movements must rely upon a wide spectrum of creative expression:  content, slogans, iconography, photography, film, digital tools and media, exhibits, events and promotional campaigns. Successful social change also requires research, knowledge management and the effective and timely delivery of information, ideas and images to key audiences. 

“Problem-based learning is essential for our students,” said Amy Reynolds, Dean of the College of Communication and Information. “Communication, information and technology are central elements to solving big problems. Media and Movements is one important way to empower students to directly apply and act on what they learn in the classroom. Our students are well-prepared and highly motivated to make a difference.”

“Media and Movements” will encourage collaborations across CCI majors and concentrations. Workshops will vary in topic and format:  Some of the workshops in the series will be open to both undergraduate and graduate students; some will be open to students from other Kent State departments and regional campuses; some will involve substantive engagement with clients; some will include a study-away component; some will focus on research abroad and field work opportunities. 

The first “Media and Movements” special-topic seminar will be offered in spring 2018 and will focus on the opioid crisis in Ohio. The Opioid Epidemic Seminar (CCI 40095 and 50095) will be an intensive, solutions-based course that requires students to understand the scope of the opioid problem and apply their varied disciplinary backgrounds and skills to support the specific communication challenges of Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Trumbull County, Ohio.   

In July, Reynolds and assistant professor Stephanie Danes Smith joined Kent State Trumbull Dean Lance Grahn, Ohio Senator Sean O’Brien and representatives from the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) and the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board to achieve this partnership. According to the Ohio Department of Health statistics, Trumbull County had the second highest number of overdose deaths in Northeast Ohio in 2015.

About the Opioid Epidemic Special Topic Course

Opioid addiction, overdoses and deaths in America have been characterized as a “crisis,” an “epidemic,” a modern-day “plague” and a “mass-casualty event.” While the non-medicinal use of opiates is not new, the pervasiveness and toxicity of street opiates, the soaring addiction and death rates and the staggering societal consequences of this crisis are more grave than the United States has previously encountered. Since 1999, the national rate of overdose deaths involving an opioid has nearly quadrupled. Drug overdoses now kill more people in the United States than car crashes. Overdose deaths from the synthetic opioid fentanyl are another alarming concern: A 2016 report found that overdose deaths from fentanyl have increased sharply in eight U.S. states:  Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland and North Carolina.

This crisis has hit Ohio with unprecedented ferocity. Ohio has been called “ground zero” and the “epicenter” of the nation’s illicit fentanyl use. The number of fatal overdoses soared from 87 in 2003 to 3,050 in 2015. Heroin was involved in more than half of Ohio’s overdose deaths. Across the state, 11 people a day die from heroin, fentanyl or carfentanil. Overall, death tolls in Ohio from unintentional drug overdoses were 36 percent higher in 2016 than 2015.

Communication, information and media can have significant impacts on this crisis. Because opioid addiction encompasses a complicated, interrelated and urgent array of social issues, communication-related challenges include but are not limited to: 

  • Accuracy and quality of information and data on opioid use, overdoses and deaths;
  • Quality and accuracy of reporting from both traditional and social media and citizen journalists;
  • Ethical and privacy implications for affected and at-risk populations, incluing teens, rural communities, children, veterans, pregnant women and the elderly;
  • Quality and efficacy of prevention education, overdose prevention, and treatment;
  • Effectiveness of public education and public health warnings;
  • Education programs for community responders, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, teachers, police, jail and court officers;
  • Reliable information about sufficiency, accessibility, affordability of treatment alternatives;
  • Reliable information about needle-exchange programs and safe-consumption facilities/zones;
  • Advocacy campaigns for new public policies and legislative approaches.

Undergraduate and graduate students will be admitted to the course with the approval of Smith, the course instructor. The course may serve as an alternative capstone for some CCI undergraduate majors. For more information, contact Smith at


POSTED: Monday, August 21, 2017 09:43 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 10:49 PM
Stephanie Danes Smith