Check out this recent post by Andy Sernovitz, who’s a reliable source of great examples and insights on driving credible word-of-mouth about products, services and brands. In this post, Andy mentions that venerable Northwestern has introduced a course on social networks. (Full disclosure: I went to NU long ago for their graduate program on integrated marketing communications – which at the time was considered cutting-edge – so I have soft spot for the Evanston institution.) It’s good to see this course emerge because university programs – particularly of the undergraduate variety – provide a handy thermometer of how industry trends and developments are catching on with pundits and students. Let me be clear… I’ve been disappointed many times by recent PR or journalism grads that lack even a basic understanding of public relations – what do you mean isn’t it just about media relations? And I’ve been frustrated more than once by academic departments and professors who seem to have designed their course modules in a musty cave, far away from messy and complex events happening in the real world. So I’ll reserve any celebration until I see evidence this is more than an isolated nod to the social media hype. Still, it’s a positive sign. Go Wildcats!