Communication studies professor Niko Poulako enjoys teaching his students about social media and other modern topics. Photo courtesy of Niko Poulako.

A University of Rhode Island communications professor prides himself on his ability to mess with student’s minds… in a productive way of course. 

Professor Niko Poulakos’s COM 346 class. The class, titled Social and Cultural Aspects of Media, discusses topics about the progression of the world and communications through new-age media, advancing technology and social media. 

Poulakos said his favorite part of teaching is feeling like he is messing with student’s minds in a productive way that makes them question the world around them. 

“My greatest asset is causing students to radically question the foundations and assumptions of all their thinking,” said Poulakos. “I don’t have to change their minds. Students aren’t obligated to think the way I think. This isn’t a matter of ‘what’s real and what’s not.’ I want them to profoundly not know something after I teach it.”

One thing Poulakos teaches his class about is the popular form of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a revolutionary system that he believes will one day take off because it is a form of currency that has no middle-man; meaning that it doesn’t go through any institution like the government bank system, and on top of that cannot be viewed by anyone other than the owner of the currency. 

Bitcoin is also almost impossible to hack into because of the unique online system, making it a profound new business that is rising in popularity.

Poulakos is from Iowa, but also lived in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before coming to Rhode Island. He originally went to school at the University of Iowa to study physics, but ended up graduating with a degree in philosophy. Poulakos went on to get his master’s degree in critical theory and cultural studies and a Ph.D in rhetoric. 

Poulakos has taught at URI for six years. In addition to COM 346, he also teaches COM 100 and COM 246. 

Poulakos is so passionate about his studies of communications that he often speaks at or attends conferences, mostly that revolve around the topic of alternative sex and sexuality. 

This year, he was given the honor of attending the first international transgender conference in New York City, New York.

Poulakos says that if there is one thing he wishes most for his students to take away from his classes it is what reasonable politics and arguments look like. 

“Fake news may be a popular 21st century problem,” said Poulakos. “But the 21st century didn’t create fake news.”