Progressive changes are being made in the Communication Studies department to help prepare communications majors for the work force. Susannah McMonagle, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies, recently shared the details about a recent revamp of the department’s curriculum. All the curriculum changes will be in full effect by the fall of 2016. Students who declare communications as a major will have access to all new classes. Current students will not need to add new courses unless a current course was completely changed.
The first prominent change is the replacement of the Rhetoric track. This has been replaced with a Strategic Communication track, which concentrates on the “business side of communication, [including]… public relations, advertising, writing for the media, social media and organization courses,” says McMonagle. A new course called “Social Media and Organization” will be included in the Strategic Communication track, and will focus on creating communication campaigns for companies and identifying the role that social media plays in these campaigns. Included in this track is a new Global Media class, where all students, alumni, and faculty members will have the opportunity to travel abroad for a week during spring break to learn about global media in different settings. The first week-long trip will happen in the spring of 2018.
The second major change includes revamping one current track in the department. The Mass Media track will be changed to a Digital and Emerging Media track. McMonagle notes that students in the Digital and Emerging Media track will study “the media and critical consumers of the media [along with] an applied piece…that teaches students how to put together and edit film.” A new course, Film Production, was offered this semester as a trial run to see whether students are interested in such classes, and so far it has been a success. According to Dr. McMonagle, Film Production will operate as a two course sequence. The fall semester concentration will be digital storytelling, and the spring semester will focus on digital production. John Hatch, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and co-chair of the department, conducted a research study that assessed communication programs at Messiah College, Cabrini College, and Wheaton College, and found that it is typical to have a communication concentration in media production.
The new additions and changes to the Communication Studies curriculum were made in an effort to prepare students for their purpose-driven communication career paths. McMonagle says, “changes will impact the department favorably since companies are looking for communication graduates who are knowledgeable with technology.” There are four full-time faculty with over 50 declared majors. The challenges with these new changes are having enough teachers for classes and finding applicable specific internships, but McMonagle is hopeful. “Now that we better reflect the ever expanding communication field, it is exciting to prepare students even better for whatever field they want to go into.”