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Fall Graduate Elective--Diffusion of Innovations course

Course Description: An innovation is anything that is perceived as new, such as a modern technology, a new health behavior, a creative environmental practice, an emerging political ideology, a viral pop cultural meme, etc. Diffusion is the communication process that facilitates the spreading of an innovation through mass and interpersonal channels over time. It can be understood via different metaphors and/or imageries, such as the ripple effect, the domino effect, organic spreading of color ink in water, and waves of innovations washing over the shores, to name a few. The diffusion of innovations theory is one of the most cited communication theories, and one that has been cited widely outside of the field of communication, including in marketing, public health, sociology, education, and political science. In this course, we will trace the historical roots of diffusion research, discuss the classic work in this body of literature, and explore recent updates in terms of communication networks, social media, opinion leaders and influencers, and big data. We will examine the diffusion of contemporary innovations in various communication contexts, such as health, scientific, environmental, organizational, political, and journalism. The goals of this course include exploring theories and practical strategies for diffusion, and developing quantitative and/or qualitative research skills for diffusion research. 


Instructor: Kerk F. Kee (Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin) is a communication researcher and an interdisciplinary social scientist of innovations. His research primarily investigates the development, adoption, implementation, and the ultimate diffusion of big data technologies in scientific organizations. He also studies the dissemination of health information in cultural communities and the spread of pro-environmental attitude in modern societies. His research has been funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Based on Google Scholar Citations in February 2019, his research has been cited more than 4,000 times to date. 


Questions about this course? Email Kerk at 


Coy Callison


CoMC Dept of PR