Christopher Finlay

Communicating Success


For Dr. Christopher Finlay, associate professor of Communication Studies, the story is the thing. Finlay joined the top-ranked LMU College of Communication And Fine Arts in 2012, and ever since, has been helping students explore the media, its infrastructure, and the role of narrative in the way we understand ourselves, each other, and different groupings of people.

“In my courses, we study stories in the media -- often cases studies ripped from the headlines,” Finlay said, “We take a close look at how these stories are developed, the infrastructure that allows them to be dispersed, and ultimately, which narrative is going to win and why from a political science perspective.”

Among Finlay’s slate of courses, he teaches “The Digital Self,” which looks at digital culture from a socio-psychological perspective, and “Wires and Empires,” which examines how internationalization and global relations can be understood through the lens of media research.

Both courses challenge students to become extraordinarily self-reflective and to think about the role their own identity plays in the development of media.

Originally drawn to LMU for its Jesuit mission, in particular its commitment to educating the whole person, Finlay says that he finds the intellectual curiosity and optimism of LMU students to be very inspiring.

“They often see themselves as co-creators of the future,” Finlay said, “imagining themselves as collaborators as opposed to people who just receive the future. They really want to make a difference and add meaning to the world in addition to learning a skill-set.”

This summer, Finlay will lead a course called “Decoding Social and Streaming Media” as part of LMU Summer Programs, a two-week pre-college experience for rising junior and senior high school students that aims to transform and enlighten.

Finlay says that he will help students decode the economics, psychology, and politics of social and streaming media in this course. Moreover, students will have the opportunity to blend insights and research from media economics, political theory, and social psychology to inform their exploration of how digital media devices and platforms (as well as their inventors and investors) shape both how they understand themselves as well as their relationships with one another.

Additionally, Finlay is co-founder of LMU’s Lingdao Fellows Program, which aims to help student participants develop a basic understanding of the varied cultural, economic and political challenges facing modern China.

In its inaugural year, 11 student leaders were selected to participate in this immersive global experience in Beijing, China, and enroll in EDLA 498: Imagining Global Leadership. Through these experiences, the Lingdao Fellows have worked to cultivate a respectful global worldview and develop an intercultural approach to leadership in order to engage in dialogue around global leadership and creative change to positively impact the campus community.  

As for what advice Finlay has for incoming LMU Lions?

“Take advantage of your time in college to explore and to potentially make mistakes in a safe environment,” he said. “If a course is really challenging for you, stick with it. Looking back, the courses that meant the most to me were the ones that were my most challenging. You want to grow over the course of your college career, and sometimes growing can be uncomfortable and challenging.”

Finlay holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in digital media cultures, sports communication, global media industries and political communication.