Exceeding the demands of a changing industry — Communication, Media Studies merge departments

Student TV anchor in studio

There is no question that a liberal arts education provides graduates with the best preparation for an ever-changing field, particularly when that field heavily relies on communication skills.

Over the past year, faculty in the Communication and Media departments have worked to combine their programs in order to provide the best preparation for their graduates. The new Department of Communication consists of three majors: Strategic Communication, which offers two different tracks (Advertising/Public Relations and Organizational Communication/Public Relations); Journalism/Broadcasting; and Communication Studies. It will also offer minors in those programs as well as in Health Communication.

“Students who are graduating in either media or communication are expected to have knowledge and skills in both,” said Dr. Dawn Carusi, who is co-chairing the department with Lori Smith. “We really believe we are going to have students graduate with a well-rounded background of knowledge about messages, perception and how well people read other people as well as the tools to help disseminate it.”

Carusi said all of the majors share a core group of classes in addition to having major-specific courses.

“[Communication Studies] is the broadest major and it requires a student to get a major, a minor or at least a cognate in another area across campus, so they’re bringing communication skills and knowledge to another field that they might be interested in,” Carusi said.

The newly established department will provide other benefits to students, Smith said.

“It’s going to give them more diversity of voices, as far as instructors,” Smith said. “They are going to have more professors and a greater choice of professors, so they’ll see different teaching styles. I think that exposure to diversity will be good for the students.”

Internships and other experiential education opportunities will remain key elements of each major.

“It’s only going to grow,” Carusi said. “Students are already doing corporate videos and internships, but now we have this consulting firm that [Dr. Alane Sanders] developed that we’re rolling out in the fall. It will continue to give students opportunities to work with clients and develop their skills for the world of work and be able to graduate with a nice portfolio of projects that they’ve worked on outside of classroom.”

The consulting firm, Fifth Street Consulting, is an interdisciplinary project that will involve students from across different majors to work on building a healthy organization — from human resource management to client selection, design, proposal development and more