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Suffrage Parade, 1913 (Photo via National Archives)

New communications course on protest culture to launch this fall

A new communications course investigating the history and patterns of social movements in the United States is being offered for the Fall 2024 semester.

The course, titled “COMM 3999: Social Movements: Protests, Peace and Pandemics,” will be a special topics course taught by communications professor Dr. James Kimble.

Social movements are “a part of our history that we often overlook,” said Kimble, whose specialty is rhetoric. The class, which will incorporate topics such as racial equality, the women’s suffrage movement, and birth control, will function as a sort of “genealogical course,” he said.

It is vital to “understand where we've come from and the sacrifices of those who came before us,” Kimble said.

“Where does that DNA trace back to?” he said. “It's become part of our national identity that these movements emerge, they make their case, they make a change, and then they kind of fade away in a new movement that takes its place in some other form.”

The rhetorical devices that protesters used during historical moments such as the nineteenth century abolitionist movement are still being used today, he said.

“All of these sorts of issues were under disputes at times in our culture, and it was social movements and activists who were willing to sometimes risk it all to bring these arguments into the social consciousness, to demonstrate, to make sure their case was heard and ultimately affected change,” Kimble said. “Not always successfully, but often they were successful.”

Kimble’s passion for the course stems from his time teaching a similar course at George Mason University.

“There's some dim awareness, but it's easy for us to forget that there were these vibrant movements that were huge, loud voices in American history,” Kimble said. “And the changes that they wrote that it's so easy for us to take for granted.”

Kimble said he hopes the course will equip the next generation to “take concrete steps” to tackle the issues facing society.

“My hope is that this kind of course does inspire our students,” he said, “Because one of the things about a Catholic campus where we emphasize spirituality is that we also talk about ethics and what's right with the world and what's wrong with the world.”

Peyton Hruska is the editor of the Campus Life section of the Setonian. She can be reached at

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