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COML 602 – Communication & Leadership Capstone Seminar

COML 602 is a 16-week course taken in your final semester.  You have two options for your Capstone 602 experience:

  • Communication Project
    • Recommended for students interested in practical applications or creative works, the project has a production element including (but not limited to) a website, a broadcast documentary, or a practical communication plan for an organization using new technology. The project must include a section explaining how communication theory was applied in the product’s design and production.
  • Communication Thesis
    • Recommended for students considering doctoral work or a career in higher education, the thesis is a scholarly, original research paper that requires the collection of data for analysis and argument.

Both the project and thesis are designed to give you the opportunity to carve out a “niche” of specialized work in communication that you are most interested in that will enhance your knowledge and expertise in the field of communication. The difference between a thesis and a project will be in how the work is expressed, not in the rigor of the work.

COML Capstone Requirements (6 credits):
COML 601: Applied Communication Research
COML 602: Communication & Leadership Capstone Seminar
*For students choosing a concentration, the capstone course requires a topic choice relevant to that concentration.

It is not recommended that you pair 602 with another course. Faculty permission is required to take COML 602 with another course.

COML 602 - Capstone Project or Thesis Details

Your thesis or project will be written under the guidance of a faculty mentor. It is crucial that your mentor be familiar with the area you would like to research, the method you would like to use, and the specific requirements of your assignment. It is your obligation to share all of this with your mentor.

Please submit the Mentor Agreement with your thesis/project proposal. COML-Mentor Agreement

Josh P. Armstrong (

Dr. Armstrong is the Director of the Comprehensive Leadership Program at Gonzaga University. The Comprehensive Leadership program includes an undergraduate leadership studies program and Gonzaga-in-Zambezi, a faculty-led study abroad program


  • Ph.D. In Educational Leadership, Michigan State University
  • M.Ed. in College Student Development, University of Vermont

Research interests:

  • Experiential education
  • Servant leadership
  • Attachment and authentic leadership
  • Accompaniment and community development

Giovanni Caputo (

Professor Caputo is a lecturer in Communication and Leadership Studies.

Research interests:

  • Intercultural communication
  • International communication
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Media
  • Linguistics
  • Speech
  • Storytelling

John Caputo (

Dr. Caputo is a lecturer in the MA in Communication and Leadership Studies department. He has been teaching communication courses for more than 30 years and has appeared on radio and television news and discussion programs. He has written more than 20 articles in professional journals, and been honored as a Visiting Scholar In-Residence at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England and taught in Florence, Italy. In addition, Dr. Caputo is on the faculty of Loyola College of Maryland\’s Cagli Project, Summer Professional Media Experience. He has been honored with Master Teacher Awards by the Western States Communication Association and the University of Texas at Austin.

He is the author of seven books:

  • Effective Communication Handbook
  • Communicating Effectively: Linking Thought with Expression
  • Dimensions of Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication: Competency Through Critical Reasonings (co-authored with Bud Hazel and Colleen McMahon)
  • Public Speaking Handbook: A Liberal Arts Perspective (co-authored with Bud Hazel)
  • McDonaldization Revisited: Critical Essays on Consumer Culture  (co-edited with Mark Alfino and Robin Wynyard for Praeger Press)
  • Effective Communication

Research Interests:

  • Communication theory
  • Intercultural communication
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Media values
  • Social values

Andrew Ciofalo (

Professor Ciofalo teaches Communication/Journalism at Loyola College and is the founder of the Communication Department.

He teaches courses in travel writing, book publishing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, and opinion writing. He has recently founded The Institute for Education in International Media, which is an  independent organization that sponsors Cagli-style media projects in Italy, Russia, and Greece.

Cheryl Coan (


  • Multicultural Education, ABD at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • MA Marquette University in Communication and Rhetorical Studies
  • BA Alverno College in Professional Communication

Research Interests:

  • Working to create a culturally inclusive curriculum
  • Online and mediated learning
  • Critical thinking and writing
  • Leadership — collaborative, servant leadership, and civic
  • Cultural diversity in organizations

Selected Presentations:

  • 2009 International Servant Leadership Conference Presentation–Building Community For the Adult Higher Education Association
  • Helping, Fixing, Learning: Teaching Students to Live and Be in Community
  • Redesigning a Curriculum for Adults: Focus on Leadership, Service, and Social Justice
  • Workshop – Writing From Life: The Transformational Power of Narratives in the Classroom
  • Workshop – “Called to Story: Narrative and the Adult Learner”

Heather Crandall (

Dr. Crandall is an Assistant Professor in the MA in Communication and Leadership Studies department.


  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Washington State University

Research Interests:

  • Scholarship related to media
  • Rhetoric
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Gender communication
  • Race communication
  • Class communication
  • Political communication
  • Content analysis methods
  • Rhetorical criticism methods
  • Framing methods

Carolyn Cunningham (

Dr. Cunningham is an Assistant Professor in the M.A. in Communication and Leadership Studies department.


  • Ph.D., Radio – Television-Film, University of Texas at Austin
  • Doctoral Portfolio in Women’s and Gender Studies

Research Interests:

  • Social impact of new media, with a particular focus on race, class, and gender
  • Digital divide
  • Media policy
  • Youth media
  • Qualitative research methods

Scholarly achievements:

  • Multiple book chapters on the digital divide
  • Conference presentations on new media
  • Presentations at the National Communication Association and Society for Cinema and Media Studies

Lisa Davis (

Dr. Davis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Communication at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.


  • Ph.D. in Communication, Ohio State University
  • M.A. in Communication, California State University

Research Interests:

  • Rhetorical theory and criticism
  • Health communication
  • Rhetoric of science
  • Medicine and technology
  • Gender and medicine
  • Cooperative argumentation
  • Critical thinking
  • Persuasion
  • Risk communication
  • Environmental communication

Paul DePalma (

Dr. DePalma is a Professor of Computer Science. For more information on him, students may view his website at:


  • Ph.D., Computational Linguistics, The University of New Mexico
  • M.S., Computer Science, Temple University
  • M.A., English, University of California at Berkeley

Research Interests:

  • Social impact of computing
  • Speech recognition
  • Genetic algorithms
  • General linguistics
  • General computer science
  • General artificial intelligence

Cher Desautel (

Cher is the President and CEO of Desautel Hege Communications, the largest public relations firm in the region. Cher has over 25 years experience designing and implementing strategic communication programs for a wide variety of clients and organizations such as the Washington State Department of Health, ITRON, Energy Northwest, and more.

Lunell Haught (

Lunell is the owner of Haught Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in implementation, conflict resolution/management and psychological aspects of organization members.

Lunell was a pioneer in implementing Title IX at a California University; the first administrator to enable navy personnel to secure college degrees through courses onboard ships (Japan and Philippines); collaborator in the International Trade program for business; and implemented a comprehensive training program and performance management system for a county government. Lunell is an adjunct faculty member at Gonzaga University’s Masters in Organizational Leadership program, teaching Conflict Management, Human Resources and Organizational Theory online and on campus.


  • Ph.D. in Educational Leadership
  • B.S. degree in Business Management,
  • M.A. in Counseling
  • Extensive study in organizational change

Research Interests:

  • Organizational collaborations
  • Developing effective strategies for working through complex situations

Scholarly achievements:

  • Articles published in popular business magazines and newspapers
  • Certified Management Consultant (CMC), the premier award given in the consulting profession

Michael Hazel (

Dr. Hazel is Associate Professor and Chair in the Communication and Leadership Studies department and teaches research methods, organizational communication, and the capstone thesis course.


  • Ph.D. Washington State University

Research Interests:

  • Communication apprehension
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Political leadership
  • Organizational communication

David B. Givens (

Dr. Givens website along with his resume and publication list can be found on this website:


  • Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Washington

Research Interests:

  • Nonverbal communication
  • Evolution of the human brain and nervous system
  • Leadership

Thomas Jeannot (

Thomas Jeannot is a professor in the department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences at Gonzaga University. His interest includes organizational ethics.

Alexander Kuskis (


  • Ph.D., MEd Computers in Education, University of Toronto
  • M.A. Drama, University of Toronto
  • B.A. English, University of Western Ontario

Scholarly achievements:

  • Diplomas & Certificates: Computer Programming, Business, Adult Education, and Online Learning

Research Interests:

  • Communication theory
  • Media theory
  • Media ecology
  • Internet studies
  • Educational media
  • E-learning
  • Marshall McLuhan

Roisin Lally (

Dr. Lally teaches Ethics and Human Nature at Gonzaga\’s Philosphy department.


  • Ph.D. (ABD) in Philosophy, “Hyperology: The Age of the Chimera.” M. Litt. Philosophy, “The Ontology of Technology”
  • B.A. English and Philosophy, H. Dip. Business and Computer Technology

Research Interests:

  • As technologies further subjugate the subject, are humans in danger of becoming standing reserve, or are we approaching a new epoch in humanity?

Larry Massey (

Professor Larry teaches in the Communication department at Gonzaga University. He retired from the business world after 20 years in venture capital development in Europe and Asia. He has taught Communication and Speech Communication courses at the University of Washington, Bellevue Community College, Gonzaga University, and is tenured faculty in Communication Studies at Spokane Falls Community College.


  • M.A. in Communication, University of Washington
  • B.S. in Philosophy, Gonzaga University

Research Interests:

  • Intercultural Communication and conflict
  • Ethnography of Communication
  • Organizational Communication – especially in trans- and multicultural organizations

Andrea McCracken (

Dr. McCracken is a Faculty Lecturer in the Communication Studies Department.

Dr. Andrea McCracken is interested in health communication and interpersonal communication. Regarding health communication, her research focuses on how memorable messages from significant others are related to health attitudes, cognitions, and health behaviors, especially pertaining to weight management. Recently, she has worked on a series of studies that examine how acceptance and challenge are related to weight management messages from romantic partners. She is further interested in examining features of memorable health messages from diverse and disenfranchised populations in order to help healthcare practitioners adapt their communication to diverse patient needs and improve communication and health outcomes. Regarding interpersonal communication, she investigates communication in “on-again/off-again” relationships and how communication in these relationships, specifically during transitions, differs from other relationships.


  • Ph.D. in Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Research Interests:

  • Health communication
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Persuasion
  • Family communication
  • Mixed methods research
  • Quantitative research

Scholarly Achievements:

Research articles published in Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Interpersona, and Western Journal of Communication

Academic conference presentations at the National Communication Association Conference, International Association for Relationship Research Conference, Western States Communication Association Conference, and the Northwestern Communication Association Conference

Josh Misner (


  • Ph.D. Leadership Studies – Dissertation: “Seeing Again for the First Time: Nurturing Initiative and Purpose Through Father Presence”
  • M.A. Communication & Leadership – Thesis: “Forwarding Fantasy: Computer-Mediated Communication and the Dissemination of Urban Legends”
  • B.A. Applied Communication – Thesis: “I Believe You Have My Stapler: A Fantasy Theme Analysis of the Film, Office Space”

Research Interests:

  • Mindfulness
  • Authenticity
  • Father-child interaction
  • Cultural identity
  • Restorative communication
  • Social media and its impact on interpersonal relationships

Kris Moreshouse (

Professor Morehouse is a lecturer in Applied Communication Studies. Prior to becoming a professor, he spent 13 years in newspaper reporting and editing.


  • M.S. Journalism, William Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas (Aug 2006)
  • B.A. English, University of Missouri-Kansas City (Graduated with honors 1988-1990)
  • B.A. Biology, University of Missouri-Columbia (1983-1987)

Research Interests:

  • Mass media and cultural influences
  • Community journalism
  • Speech communication
  • Graduate-level writing

Diana Osborne (


  • M.B.A. , Purdue University, Concentrations Strategy & Finance
  • M.A. Applied Linguistics, Southwest University in Bulgaria

Scholarly Achievements:

  • Publications & conference presentations on virtual teamwork
  • Construction of organizational/corporate reality in contemporary popular culture
  • Business start up dynamics
  • Chair of Business/ Corporate Culture Area at the American Culture Association since 2003

Research Interests:

  • Organizational change
  • Leadership
  • Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship – their economic impact
  • Strategic planning – especially at the start up level
  • The economics aspect of constructing meaning in the context of an organization

Kipp Preble (

Scholarly Achievements:

  • Panelist and workshop leader on numerous occasions at National Communication Association and Western States

Research Interests:

  • Critical studies of mass media
  • Intercultural communication
  • Communication and education

Adrian Popa (

Dr. Popa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership. Before Dr. Popa came to Gonzaga University he worked as a research analyst at University of Utah contracting with federal, state, and community programs. This work also provided foundational opportunities to work in grassroots leadership development with refugees from Croatia and Sudan. Prior work included family counseling in the hospital and medical setting at Loma Linda University Medical Center, CA. At Gonzaga University, Dr. Popa teaches in the areas of Organizational Ethics, Research Methods, Leadership and Imagination, and Leadership Seminar.

Dr. Popa is active in various organizations, presents at international conference and serves as editor of AUDEM: The International Journal of Higher Education and Democracy.

Dr. Popa was born and raised in Romania, where he continues to visit, serve, and partner with colleagues on academic projects and endeavors.


  • Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Utah
  • B.A. in Psychology, University of California at Irvine
  • Master Degree in Social Work, California State University of Long Beach
  • Master Degree in Public Administration, University of Utah


Research Interests:

  • Leadership and hardiness
  • The role of psychological hardiness in post-conflict societies
  • Moral imagination

Mike Poutiatine (


  • Ph.D. Educational Leadership
  • M.S. Experiential Education
  • B.S. Environmental Education

Research Interests:

  • Transformational Learning Theory
  • Formational Development
  • Adaptive Leadership
  • Emergent Leadership Theory
  • Non-profit Leadership
  • Leadership in Schools (teacher development/leadership specifically)
  • Teams

Other interests:

  • Coffee
  • Community
  • Good conversation
  • All things Parker Palmer

Pavel Shlossberg (

Dr. Shlossberg is an Assistant Professor in the Communication and Leadership Studies department.


  • Ph.D. in Communications, Columbia University

Research Interests:

  • Specializations in media and culture
  • International communication
  • Race and diversity issues
  • Latin American studies

602 Thesis Database

Click here to search the COML student thesis and project database from 2011-present.

Click here to search over 800 GU theses and dissertations from 1981-present.  You can generally access a 24-page preview as well as the full-text PDF, if available, for Gonzaga theses and dissertations.

Click here to search more than 1 million theses and dissertations covering the humanities and social sciences with abstracts, 24-page previews, and full-text PDF, if available, for dissertations from other universities.

We hope these inspire you on your 602 journey!

Oral Presentation

Upon authorization from your 602 instructor, the COML Program Assistant will contact you to set up a date/time for your oral presentation. You will receive more details as you complete the work in 602. Orals are generally planned as group sessions either on campus or by way of phone/video conference calls based on your preference/capability.  Campus students often bring a guest.

Oral Presentation FAQs

  • Each session is typically 2 hours in length.  Every student is REQUIRED to stay engaged the entire time.  Please arrange this in your personal/work schedule.
  • Each presentation is scheduled in 15 minute time slots with 7-8 minutes for the student presentation and the remaining time for Q&A.
  • This is an informal discussion of your thesis.  Each presentation should summarize your work, the theories utilized and result of the research or project.
  • Eligibility: Your 602 instructor will notify the Program Assistant who then will contact each student to arrange a date/time for the oral presentation.

Signature Page

Following your Oral Presentation and 602 instructor authorization, you will be sent, via US Mail, a signature page which will include the signature of your professor, mentor and 2nd reader if applicable. The receipt of your signature page is NOT your cue to upload your thesis to Proquest. You must receive final approval from your professor and mentor. 


All theses/projects must be bound through ProQuest UMI Dissertation Publishing at

The submission instructions are self-explanatory once on the ProQuest UMI website.  The basic cost is approximately $36 for the “Traditional” Option.  An additional $95 fee is charged for “Open Access Publishing”. The difference between “Traditional” and “Open Access Publishing” are explained in detail on the ProQuest website. Either option is acceptable.

Once you upload your thesis/project to ProQuest, the COML Program Assistant will “Approve” and “Deliver” your submission and it will move forward through the publishing process. Please note that it takes 8-12 weeks for processing and another 6-8 weeks to publish. You are able to check the status on the ProQuest website.

Thesis comes from an ancient Greek word that means stand or position. Your thesis is the stand or position you take on an issue. In a thesis you generally state your thesis at the beginning of the paper and then spend the remaining pages showing why the position is correct or reasonable.

A thesis is broken into a series of chapters. Each chapter leads directly to the following chapter. The thesis must be written with good transitions from chapter to chapter.

Rough and Final Drafts

You will likely have multiple drafts of each section. We advise that you do not delay the writing process for fear that you are not a good writer. This can often lead to writer’s block. Give yourself permission to write poorly. Just “crank things out.” It is in revision that the work will be cleaned-up, and inconsistencies or gaps will be clarified.

That being said, your professor or mentor is not your line editor. All submissions for review must be as error free as possible. If your papers are grammatically incorrect, contain poor use of prose, incorrect spelling or use of APA citation requirements, they will be sent back to you for editing.

You may also be referred to a “Writing Tutor.” Some students have found it best to hire a local editor to help them with writing mechanics. Our advice to you if you struggle with composition is that you have made the necessary arrangements for an excellent proofreader or editor so your submissions do not delay your progress

A more in-depth explanation of the process can be found in the 680 Handbook.

Examples of MA level Communication Projects are listed below and organized according to possible interest areas.

Interested in teaching?

Project: Demonstrate a thorough understanding of issues in communication pedagogy followed by an individually tailored portfolio of syllabi, readings, learning activities, and ethical questions for teaching communication courses at the college level. This project would be accomplished by completing an internship in teaching or Directed Study on Communication Education.

Interested in media literacy?

Project: Upon completion of COML 516, one might create and execute a media literacy promotional campaign to raise awareness of media and culture. Students would also take a directed readings course on media literacy or perhaps an internship with a media literacy organization such as the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media or one in your community.

Interested in community organizing and social change?

Project: After reading the foundational literature, students could develop and implement a campaign to mobilize a community action program. Again, it would be advised that this be combined with an internship with an appropriate organization.

A more in-depth explanation of the process can be found in the 680 Handbook.

Interested in Training and Consulting?

Project: A developed portfolio of training materials and consulting strategies for working in organizational and adult learner settings. COML 511 would be required and an Internship recommended. The written part of the project would resemble a thesis with the omission of a research component.

Guidelines for writing and preparing thesis and projects are explained in Chapter Eleven of Rubin, et. al. (2005). Communication research: Strategies and sources (6th ed.).

Exemplary Completed Theses

  • Darlene Wilson: The 21st Century Educator: The Communication Practices of an \’Architect of Learning\’ (view .pdf)
  • Elise Berman: Florida’s Perspective Of Domestic Violence: When A Woman Is The Offender And A Man Is The Victim (view .pdf)
  • Noel Bermudez: Effects Of Social Media On Individual Voting (view .pdf)
  • Kimberly A. Coudreaut: Is A Brand’s Use Of Social Media To Disseminate Information During A Crisis As Credible As Using Traditional Media Sources? (view .pdf)
  • Regenia G. Dowling: Sybaritic Cyberspace (Example thesis using archival research) (view .pdf)
  • Megan E. Fairweather: Health Promotion at Work: Exploring Employee Perspectives of Wellbeing (view .pdf)
  • Beena Gohil: Endometriosis And Livejournal: How Women Use Social Media For Health Communication (view .pdf)
  • Martha Johnson: Improving Board Communication: An Assessment of Interpersonal, Small Group and Organizational Communication of a Ten-Month-Old Nonprofit Organization (view .pdf)
  • Rachel Lepchitz: Perceived Muted Voice and its Impact on Female Communication Techniques in the Workplace (view .pdf)
  • Joshua Mathiesen: The Cognitive Effect Of Tailored Safety Communication On Smokejumpers: An Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective (view .pdf)
  • Robert McKeever: Facebooked: Groupthink in the Era of Computer Mediated Social Networks (view .pdf)
  • Angela McNutt: You Have to Become a Citizen of Cagli: An Examination of How a Digital Storytelling Program Abroad Takes Students from Casual Tourists to Global Citizens (view .pdf)
  • Janel Nels: Perceived Reality Depicted in Media Branding of Higher Online Education (view .pdf)
  • Carissa M. Simmons: Perceived Confirmation and Disconfirmation in Community College Online Distance-Learning Courses (view .pdf)
  • Lisa Spence: Preferences for Leader Traits and Leadership Communication Styles among Members of Different Generational Cohorts (view .pdf)
  • Michael J. Stasio: Transformative Pedagogy in Conversation: The Role of Instructor Interventions in Peer Feedback for Speech Outline Development (view .pdf)
  • Michael Welch: The Emerging Media Revolution: Considering the Influence of New Media Forms on Democratic Society (view .pdf)
  • Rebecca Westover: Learning Organizations: A Preliminary Investigation between the Presence of a Learning Organization and Profit (view .pdf)
  • Bryan S. Wilson: The Effect of Adult Sportsmanship and Pro-social Behavior Modeling on Child Self-Competence in Youth Football Programs (view .pdf)
  • Morgan Drdak: Meeting Constituent Needs Through E-Governance (view pdf)

Exemplary Completed Projects

NOTE: These examples are provided for sharing excellent student work. The samples do not necessarily meet the requirements for APA 6th edition for which you are responsible.

More Thesis topic ideas are available in this PowerPoint file.

Note: Prior to Fall 2015, COML 602 was known as COML 680.

Program information subject to change.

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