Catherine W. Phelan, Chair
Cheryl A. Casey
Megan M. Dowd
The mission of the Communication Department is to ensure that students are critically aware of the ways in which information technologies inevitably alter interpersonal and social environments. The curriculum focuses on the interplay of face-to-face and mediated communication, while recognizing that speech can take many forms and be studied within many contexts.
Coursework in the concentration is designed to offer knowledge of historical and theoretical paradigms, as those paradigms provide cogent explanations of a rapidly evolving social landscape. As students progress through their studies they are expected to develop an understanding of what it means to be informed scholars.
The goals of the concentration require the integration of theory and practice in order to prepare students for the demands of civic engagement beyond the classroom. We encourage each student to identify and pursue an individual research agenda that builds on an awareness of the ways in which communication can both inform and influence ethical decisions. The department’s mission supports the 2009 Hamilton Strategic Plan in terms of civic engagement, relevance of coursework and the development of a supportive learning community.
Learning goals of the Communication concentration include:
1. To critically investigate the diverse ways in which information technologies can alter the human communication environment.
2. To understand the complex ways in which concerns with communication cannot be separated from ethical concerns.
3. To discern how interpersonal communication is fundamentally different from the varied forms of mediated communication.
4. To relate the different approaches of the study of Communication to the key questions of the discipline.
5. To apply the most appropriate of different methodological approaches to one’s own research questions.
6. To organize, adapt, and present one’s scholarship successfully for diverse audiences.
These six goals are supported by the objectives identified in syllabi for specific courses in the curriculum.
A concentration in communication consists of 11 courses: five core courses, three electives in communication (one of which must be at the 300 level or above), and three cognate courses from other disciplines. The core courses are 101, 275, 302, 455 and the senior thesis (500). These courses are offered every year. Electives in communication are offered every other year. Cognate courses speak to the interdisciplinary perspectives that inform the study of human communication, and must be at the 200 level or above; cognates cannot count toward a second major or a minor. During the second semester of senior year, students will provide their advisor with a written rationale that supports their selection of cognates and explains how these courses enrich their study of communication.
Students pursuing a concentration in communication will gain a critical understanding of the theoretical frameworks and methods of research in the discipline. Communication Theory (302) should be taken in the student’s junior year, followed by Methods of Communication Research (455) and Senior Thesis (500) in the fall and spring, respectively, of senior year. All senior projects consist of both written and oral components, culminating in a final draft of original research and an oral presentation to students and faculty at the end of the course.
Honors in communication will be awarded based on a cumulative record of 3.5 (90) or above in all courses counting toward the concentration, as well as a grade of A or above in Senior Thesis (500).
A minor in communication consists of five communication courses: 101, 275 and three additional courses (one of which must be at the 300 level or above).
101F,S Introduction to Communication.
An introduction to the fundamental questions of the discipline. Investigates the role of symbolic communication, the essential features of interpersonal communication and group process, and the consequences of mediated communication. Theoretical examples draw on diverse communication practices that shape one's view of self and other. Casey (fall); Dowd (spring).
202S Explorations in Communication.
An exploration of the fundamental questions regarding how human communication differs from the communication of other living creatures. Drawing on key readings from the communication discipline, students work collaboratively to discover what makes humans unique. Readings incorporate articles on human communication and scientific studies of birds, frogs, chimps, bees, elephants, among others. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Phelan.
203F History of Communication.
Examines the symbolic forms and technological extensions of communication, from the evolution of human language to the emergence of digital technologies, and evaluates the relationship between dominant modes of communication and the cultures that shape and are shaped by those dominant forms. Examines the varied ways in which communication technologies have shaped political, social and economic structures, in addition to shifting perspectives on temporal and spatial orders, as exemplified by revolutions in communication technologies. Casey.
Explores the basic principles of argumentative discourse including concepts such as spheres of influence, presumption, burden of proof, rhetorical forms of reasoning and evidence. Emphasis is on construction and deconstruction of arguments, the role of argumentation in society, incorporation of research into argumentative structures, and argumentative and persuasive speaking. Emphasis on crafting arguments tailored to a variety of outlets including print and presentation. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
222S Interpersonal Communication.
Covers dynamics of relationship development, negotiation and construction of shared meaning, self concept and conflict management. Students study theory and engage in discussion and exercises designed to enhance their effectiveness in interpersonal communication and their understanding of its theoretical underpinnings. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101 and 202. Dowd.
230F Small-Group Communication.
From an individualistic perspective the study of small group processes presents three challenges. First, it is crucial to understand the significant role of groups in American society. Second, one must move beyond the interpersonal dimension to recognize the multi-faceted focus of the group. Third, the study of group process must address the complexity of cultural, political and social influences. Confronts these challenges through the study of cross-cultural perspectives, theoretical analysis and detailed hypothetical applications. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101, 202, 280, 222. Maximum enrollment, 20. Dowd.
240F Self in Society.
An intermediate-level course in phenomenological social psychology. Emphasis on the nature of the self, the life world as experienced, the taken-for-granted nature of social life, roles and bad faith, and the routinization of everyday life. Prerequisite, one course in sociology or psychology. (Same as Sociology 240.) Chambliss.
275S Communication Ethics.
Examines the philosophical approaches to and practical implications of ethics in communication. Provides insight into the relevance and pervasiveness of communication ethics in everyday life through an examination of leading theorists and various ethical challenges, including responsibility, justice, transparency and autonomy. Students develop views on ethical issues, while applying ethical models to specific examples of communication in relationships, the workplace, politics, religion, mass media and digital media. Casey.
Examines the nature of conflict in American life and investigates varied approaches and alternatives to adversarial practices. Emphasizes individualistic and collectivistic perspectives, drawing on cross-cultural examples of conflict mediation. Investigates the relation between arbitration, mediation, and ajudication from a cross-cultural perspective. Prerequisite, 101 or 222, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.
302F Communication Theory.
Examines theoretical perspectives and conceptual frameworks underpinning the study of communication and its disciplinary interests. Current theories and scholarly literatures are reviewed and applied to group presentations, weekly papers and a research paper. (Oral Presentations.) Open to concentrators, minors or with consent of instructor. Phelan.
304S Religion and Media.
Investigates the role of various media in shaping religious traditions especially Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. Beginning with studies of orality and literacy, we move into the impact of the printing press, then electronic media including Internet and video games. Prerequisite, one course in religious studies or consent of instructor. (Same as Religious Studies 304.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Rodriguez-Plate.
Communication, Language and Culture.
Examines language as the primary symbolic medium through which humans record, represent and understand experience. Readings consider culture as a complex system of symbolic interactions and identify relationships among language acts, identity, social contexts and cultural meanings. Examines how language is a cultural medium that shapes perception, understanding and social interaction in order to understand the ways in which language influences thinking and behavior. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101, or one course in sociology or anthropology. Maximum enrollment, 20.
310S Media Form and Theory.
Investigates the impact of mass media on American society in order to more clearly understand the problems of living in a world dominated by media technology. Examines relationships between various components of the media process, focusing on how media alters our understanding of politics, persons and communities. Prerequisite, one course in communication, government or sociology. (Same as American Studies 310.) Phelan.
314S Communication Law: Freedom of Speech.
Detailed investigation of the first amendment. Study of case law which has contributed to the creation of a unique American perspective on the role of speech in a free society. Exploration of historical origins of the first amendment, political consequence and technological constraints. Legal distinctions regarding print, broadcast and electronic media focus on implications for the 21st century. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, one course in communication, government or sociology. Open to seniors and juniors; sophomores and first-year students with permission. Phelan.
Investigates the symbolic processes at work within a dramatically changing organizational landscape, especially as communication technologies call for greater coordination, speed up the pace of work, distribute work processes and demand cross-cultural cooperation. Applies leading theoretical perspectives to analyze and evaluate the networks of communication within and with organizations, strategies of decision-making and problem solving, organizational missions and ethics, and conflict mediation. Prerequisite, one course in communication, psychology or sociology.
Study of the ways people co-create meanings and influence each other through the strategic use and misuse of symbols. Includes the study of message- and audience-centered theories of persuasion, propaganda, persuasion’s place in democratic societies, and the roles of reason and emotion in the persuasion process. Students critique and produce persuasive discourses including public service announcements, political speeches, advertisements and news reports. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, one 100- or 200-level communications course or consent of instructor. Dowd.
380S Social History of Advertising.
An historical overview of advertising media and design in American society. Investigates the emergence of consumer culture and advertising innovations, which developed as consumerism permeated American society. Addresses the creation and manipulation of markets, the social, economic and political contexts that contributed to marketing theories, and the impact of advertising strategies from late 19th century to the present. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Casey.
451F Seminar: Communication, Technology and Society.
Theoretical analysis of how communication technology alters social construction of time, space, community and identity. Readings detail historical precedents in order to address future implications of emerging technologies. Prerequisite, Communication 101 or consent of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. Maximum enrollment, 12. Dowd.
455F Methods of Communication Research.
Overview of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods of communication research. A detailed rationale for each approach offered and different approaches to communication research compared. Students analyze and compare current communication research and finish with a preliminary research proposal for the senior thesis. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, open to concentrators, minors or consent of instructor. Phelan.
500S Senior Thesis.
A semester long research project, based on research proposals completed in the communication methods course.Required of all concentrators in the department and open to senior concentrators only. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 302, 455. open to concentrators only. Casey and Phelan.