Department Chair: Terence Check
Faculty: Kelly Berg, Terence Check, Jeanmarie Cook, Karyl Daughters, Katherine Johnson, Jennifer Kramer, Shane Miller, Aric Putnam, Erin Szabo

The field of communication focuses on how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The discipline explores the human condition by studying how we communicate and how that communication constructs social reality, shapes human communities, influences relationships, and defines our physical environment. The field of communication promotes the effective and ethical practice of communication. Understanding communication entails understanding writing, speaking, and listening; as well as understanding the influence of medium, form, audience, culture, and source on the message. Courses in the department reflect the classical and the modern strands of the discipline by offering courses in three areas: Rhetoric and Public Address (Area 1), Communication Theory (Area 2), and Media Studies (Area 3).

Communication courses are designed to provide students with the communication theory and skills that are necessary for college work and for personal and professional development after graduation. These courses are especially recommended for students considering careers in teaching, management, government, health care, law, public relations, newspaper and magazine writing, broadcasting, and business; but a communication major can be an excellent foundation for any career.


The Communication Department uses a variety of assessment measures to determine the abilities of our students and the effectiveness of our teaching. These may include, but are not limited to, the following: senior exit interviews, portfolios of papers collected across lower and upper division courses, videotapes of speeches and presentations, sophomore and senior essays, self-assessment instruments, site supervisors’ written evaluations of internship performance and communication competence, job placement upon graduation, and standardized longitudinal assessments. The data collected is used by the department to revise the curriculum and/or individual courses in order to enhance student learning.

Major (40 credits)

Forty (40) credits -the equivalent of 10 courses -distributed as follows:

  1. At least two of the foundation courses (8 credits): 101, 103, 105. Note: The third foundation course may be taken to fulfill ONE of the area requirements described below in #2, #3 or #4.
  2. At least one course (4 credits) from Area 1, Rhetoric and Public Address: 111, 225, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 333 or 381.
  3. At least one course (4 credits) from Area 2, Communication Theory: 205, 250, 251, 253, 265, 350, 351, 355, 356, 367 or 385.
  4. At least one course (4 credits) from Area 3, Media Studies: 245, 286, 313, 335, 340, 341, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 383, or 386.
  5. At least 16 credits of the major must be 300-level communication department courses. [Note: Internships (COMM 397) and Independent Learning Projects (ILPs - COMM 371) may not be applied to this requirement, although 4 credits of internship or ILP may be applied to the overall 40 credits required for the major.]
  6. Two of the courses (8 credits) for the major may be from: ART 217, ART 218, ART 233 (Visual Narrative), ART 262, ART 317, ART 318, ART 362, ENGL 286, ENGL 311, ENGL 369, ENGL 386, ENGL 387, ENGL 388, PCST 346, PSYC 221, PSYC 235, PSYC 347, SOCI 201, SOCI 302, or THEA 117.
  7. Plus additional courses within the department to complete the required 40 credits.

Minor (24 credits)

Twenty-four (24) credits -the equivalent of six (6) courses -distributed as follows:

  1. At least one course (4 credits) from the following: 101, 103 or 105.
  2. At least 20 additional credits:
    • 8 credits of which must be 300-level communication courses. Internship and ILP credits may not be used to complete the minor.
    • 4 credits of which may be from among the following: ART 217, ART 218, ART 233 (Visual Narrative), ART 262, ART 317, ART 318, ART 362, ENGL 286, ENGL 311, ENGL 369, ENGL 386, ENGL 388, PCST 346, PSYC 221, PSYC 235, PSYC 347, SOCI 201, SOCI 302, or THEA 117.

For the most current information about the department, consult our web site at:

Courses (COMM)

Foundation Courses

101 Persuasion in Society. (4)
This course is an introduction to public persuasion, examining the mechanisms by which individuals, groups and institutions seek to reinforce or alter the beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of American audiences. The principal goal of this course is to make students more analytical and discriminating audiences for persuasive messages in society. Note: Although individual and/or group presentations may be assigned in this course, this is not a course in public speaking.

103 Mass Communication and Society. (4)
This course explores the relationship between mass media and society. Students will learn about the role of mediated communication in creating and dispersing knowledge and will become more aware of the relationship between media economics and media content. The course also introduces students to basic theoretical concepts needed to critically analyze mediated messages, helping students become more skilled and knowledgeable consumers of media content. Finally, the course will provide students with the basic understanding of media needed for advanced media courses.

105 Introduction to Human Communication. (4)
This course provides students with a general overview of communication theory and research, particularly as it relates to their everyday interactions. The course covers theories related to interpersonal, gender, group, organizational, and intercultural contexts.

Courses in Area One - Rhetoric and Public Address

111 Public Speaking. (4)
Provides the theory and practice to equip students to prepare and deliver effective speeches. Offers students opportunities to present original and researched ideas to an audience as well as to analyze the speeches of others. Addresses rhetorical issues such as credibility, audience analysis and logical reasoning. Develops skills in organization, outlining, critical thinking and speech criticism. A-F grading only.

220 Debate. (2)
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of debate. Students will learn argumentation and debate theory and develop research, organization, reasoning, refutation and delivery skills. Students will participate in classroom debates. No previous debate training is expected.

225 Argumentation and Advocacy. (4)
Provides the theory and practice necessary for students to analyze and construct effective arguments. By developing skills as critics of argument, students will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in claims. Examines how advocates use and misuse statistics to bolster arguments. Skills in research, organization, argument anticipation and refutation are developed. Prerequisite: 101 or 111 or permission of instructor.

301 Persuasion. (4)
This is an applied persuasion course in which an analysis and review of the theories and methods of persuasion are used to conduct a persuasive campaign on or off campus. The class may integrate basic principles and practice of video production to complete persuasive video projects. Prerequisite: 101 or permission of the instructor.

302 Public Address. (4)
A critical and historical study of public discourse in a variety of forms including artistic, public and private. The specific focus of the course may change from year to year. Prerequisite: 101 or permission of instructor.

303 Social Movements. (4)
Examines how social movements influence social change. Students employ social movements theory to critically analyze the persuasive appeals of movement agitation techniques and establishment control measures. A variety of historical and contemporary movements are studied. Prerequisite: 101.

304 Political Communication. (4)
Examines how political symbols mobilize society, stimulate social action and create national identity. Explores how political language reinforces, interprets, challenges and manipulates popular beliefs, attitudes and values. Topics may include presidential rhetoric, campaign discourse and legislative appeals. Prerequisite: COMM 101.

305 Women's Voices. (4)
This class is a survey of the rhetorical efforts of a variety of North American women from the early 19th century to contemporary times. Women from diverse cultures and movements will be studied, and their rhetorical efforts critically discussed. The class will draw upon a variety of rhetorical theories to discover how and why women's voices have been silenced, as well as to understand the creative efforts used by these women to make their voices heard.

307 Freedom of Speech. (4)
This course will explore the controversies surrounding freedom of speech. The course will survey the historical and legal development of free speech in the United States.

308 Rhetoric of Advertising. (4)
This course examines the rhetorical function of advertising in society—how  images and arguments function to persuade audiences. Students learn how to use theory to render critical readings of advertisements as social, political, and cultural messages. This course includes a unit on minority representation in advertising, with a special focus on Latinos. The primary objective of the course is to empower students to become critics of persuasive messages in advertising. Students learn the rhetorical strategies that companies use to appeal to mass audiences. Students use critical theory to render a deep reading of advertisements as social, cultural, and political messages. Evaluation will be through oral presentations, class discussion, examinations and a research paper. Prerequisite: COMM 101 or COMM 103.

309 Environmental Rhetoric. (4)
This course examines environmental communication focusing on how public participants (movement leaders, corporations, scientific experts, politicians, reporters, citizens and others) attempt to define and articulate environmental issues for mass audiences through speeches, news, advertising, film, and other discourse. This course has three specific objectives. 1) To enhance the ability of students to analyze and critically evaluate the persuasive content of a variety of environmental “texts” (including environmental policy speeches, advertising, news stories, etc.). 2) To increase student awareness of environmental issues and the way that groups define and present these issues to public audiences. 3) To empower students to take action on environmental issues, if they desire, by improving their writing, discussion, speaking, research and critical thinking skills. The course satisfies requirements for the Environmental Studies major. 

333 Rhetorical Criticism. (4)
An examination of the criticism of rhetorical texts from a variety of perspectives including neo-Aristotelian, generic and feminist approaches. Questions of judgment based on ethical, aesthetic and effects criteria will be addressed. Critical methods will be studied and applied to contemporary and/or historical rhetorical texts. Prerequisite: 101.

381 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Public Address. (4)
An advanced course focusing on a specific topic in rhetorical theory, rhetorical criticism, or public address. Topics might include contemporary or classical rhetorical theory, civil rights rhetoric, etc. May be repeated as the topic changes. Prerequisites vary with the topic. See descriptions in the registration bulletin.

Courses in Area Two - Communication Theory 

205 Interpersonal Communication. (4)
Introduces students to basic principles and theories of interpersonal communication. Readings, discussion and exercises facilitate understanding of interpersonal communication processes. Topics may include perception, self-concept, verbal communication, listening, conflict, nonverbal cues, gender roles, family communication, culture, communication competence, and relationship development.

250 Effective Listening. (4)
Introduces students to basic principles and theories of listening. Approaches listening as a critical component in the communication process. Readings, discussion and exercises facilitate understanding of effective listening and development of individual listening skills. Topics include discriminative, comprehensive, mindfulness, critical, therapeutic and appreciative listening.

251 Communication and Conflict. (4)
Introduces students to principles and theories of conflict. Examines causes of conflict and a variety of approaches to managing conflict. Emphasizes conflict in various interpersonal contexts.

253 Nonverbal Communication. (2)
Provides students with a general overview of the theoretical and practical application of primary areas of nonverbal communication research. The course examines theoretical and empirical studies in selected areas of nonverbal communication such as personal appearance, touch, space, body language, gestures, eye contact, use of time, facial expressions, olfaction, and body adornment/alteration.

265 Group Communication. (4)
Examines the theory and practice of group communication. Includes such topics as group dynamics, decision making, power, norms and roles, conflict, groupthink and communication theory.

350 Intercultural Communication. (4)
Examines the relationship between communication and culture. Communication theory is used to identify and explore barriers and opportunities in communicating with individuals from different cultures and co-cultures. Skills necessary for communication across cultures are identified and developed. Topics may include: worldview, ethnocentrism, language, nonverbal cues, translation issues, physical and psychological environment, health context, educational context, culture shock, acculturation, and ethical issues.

351 Gender and Communication. (4)
Examines the impact of socialization on gender roles and the influence of gender roles on communication. Looks at the communication behaviors of women and men in same sex and mixed sex contexts. Introduces students to current theories of gender communication. Examines the function of communication in gender role development. Topics may include language, perception, nonverbal cues, communicative style, gender in intimate contexts, gender in public contexts and gender in the media. This course satisfies requirements for the GWST major/minor.

355 Communication Theory. (4)
An in-depth examination of contemporary communication theories and research as well as research methods appropriate for the study of communication. This course is especially recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate studies in communication. Prerequisite: 105 or permission of the instructor.

356 Communication Research. (4)
Provides students with the conceptual and practical understanding of quantitative and qualitative research in the field of Communication.  Students examine many methodologies available to researchers for doing empirical social research and learn to think more scientifically and interpretively about a variety of social phenomena involving communication. The course includes a collaborative hands-on empirical investigation of a particular communication phenomenon. Prerequisite: 105 or permission of instructor.

367 Organizational Communication. (4)
Theories and concepts of organizational communication are discussed. Includes such topics as communication approaches to organizational theory, power, corporate culture, conflict, organizational metaphors, organizational processes, management styles and organizational change. Prerequisite: 105. [Note: Some sections of this course may carry a Service Learning component. See registration booklet for details.]

385 Special Topics in Communication Theory. (4)
An advanced course focusing on a specific topic in communication theory. Examples: gender, language and culture; health communication; love, sex, commitment, and communication; family communication. May be repeated as the topic changes. Prerequisites vary according to the topic. See descriptions in the registration bulletin.

Courses in Area Three - Media Studies


245 Introduction to Media Writing. (4)
A course in the writing style used in the news and public relations professions. The student will learn various criteria for newsworthiness, basic newsgathering techniques, story structure, leads, and other aspects of print journalism. Prerequisite: Completion of First Year Seminar or the equivalent and basic keyboard skills.

286 Introduction to Film. (4)
This course offers an introduction to film as a medium of communication and representation. Topics may include a survey of the development of film and the movie industry, techniques of acting, directing, cinematography, narrative style, and film theory. The vocabulary of cinema and representative films of the first one hundred years of filmmaking will be covered. Fall or spring. Cross listed with ENGL 286.

335 Mass Media in Elections. (4)
An examination of how the mass media influences the behavior of candidates and voters, and vice versa, in political campaigns. Specific areas of study may include news reporting, press editorials, campaign advertising, polls, cartoons, talk shows, speeches, debates and press conferences. The impact of issues, image, race, gender and third parties may also be discussed. Students will research presidential or state elections and may engage in volunteer work for a political campaign.

340 Media Theories. (4)
This course examines the evolution of theories about the role of media in society. Prerequisite: 103 or permission of instructor.

341 Culture, Communication and the Construction of News. (4)
The role of the news industry in a democracy is to inform and socialize the citizenry for participation within the democracy. What are the consequences for the nature of that information when the news industry is profit-driven? How do decisions about the "bottom line" influence decisions about an event's newsworthiness? This course will examine issues of ownership, the influence of advertising, and factors within the routines of production that help determine the content of news. Prerequisite: 103 or permission of instructor.

345 Advanced Media Writing. (4)
This course continues to develop writing and reporting techniques and methods introduced in COMM 245: Introduction to Media Writing. Students will explore theory and practice in writing for media in one or more of the following areas: public relations, broadcasting, or print journalism. Prerequisite: 245 or permission of instructor.

346 Strategic Communication Campaigns. (4)
This course provides a framework for students to understand the components and appropriate use of theory in designing strategic communication campaigns. By developing campaigns (Ex: public relations, advertising, integrated marketing communication, health or political communication), students will be able to build skills in issue and audience identification, research, goal and objective setting, campaign planning and execution, and evaluation of campaign outcomes. The course may use case studies, reading, discussion, exercises, and group projects to increase students' critical evaluation of campaigns and apply the lessons learned to development of their own campaigns. This class will involve a service learning component. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and COMM 103 or COMM 101.

347 Mass Media Effects. (4)
This course examines the use and effects of entertaining and informative mass media for individuals and societies, and attempts to answer such questions as: Who is affected by the mass media, What effects occur, How do these effects occur, To what degree, What type of media content is responsible for various effects, and What particular contexts and individual differences make media effects more or less likely? This class primarily focuses on adults and the effects of television, newspapers, magazines and film, because these are the most heavily researched areas. This class will employ a social scientific approach to exploring the question of media effects, with representative research being read and discussed. Prerequisite: 103.

348 Mass Media and Children. (4)
This course examines the role of mass media in children's, and adolescents' lives, acquainting students with issues, theories and research pertinent to youth and the mass media. We will assume a developmental perspective, looking at various aspects of child development (cognitive, social and moral). We will also assess a number of claims made by social scientists, pediatricians, scholars, political leaders, and members of the public, about how mass media affect children. Finally, we will discuss media literacy as an intervention strategy for maximizing positive, and minimizing negative, effects of media experiences. The class includes a required service learning component and should be of interest to anyone desiring to produce media content, become a parent, work with children, and/or concerned about issues relating to children. Prerequisite: 103.

383 Special Topics in Mass Media. (4)
A study of a special topic not ordinarily treated in standard courses. Examples: media history, criticism of a particular media genre, on-line communication, layout and design, and advanced journalism topics. May be repeated as the topic changes. Prerequisites vary according to the topic. See descriptions in the registration bulletin.

386 Studies in Film. (4)
This course will read film through one or more theoretical/critical aspects. Psychoanalytical, feminist, cultural studies, and reader-response theories are among possible approaches offered. A selection of films will be viewed for illustrative and interpretive purposes. Cross-listed with ENGL 386.

Service Courses, Independent Projects, Internships, Honors


252 Listening Basics. (2)
This course is intended primarily for secondary and elementary education students seeking certification in the communication/language arts. Focuses upon the central role of listening in the communication process. Introduces students to the basic principles and various purposes of listening. Uses readings, discussion and exercises to heighten awareness of barriers to effective listening and to develop students' listening skills. Topics include cultural attitudes toward listening, costs of ineffective listening, intrapersonal listening, listening in various contexts, and ethical responsibilities of listening.

271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. The proposed project must be grounded in previous relevant coursework in the discipline. ILPs may not substitute for a regularly offered course and must be student-designed. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability toward major or minor requirements. Not available to first-year students.

371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. The proposed project must be grounded in previous relevant coursework in the discipline. ILPs may not substitute for a regularly offered course and must be student-designed. Permission of department chair and completion of 12 credits within the department required. Four credits maximum will count toward the major. ILP credits may not be applied to fulfill the four 300-level courses in Communication for the major. Not available to first-year students.

392 Communication Practicum. (1)
Under the supervision of an approved faculty moderator, a student who participates in a practical communication-related activity (e.g. KJNB radio or any official student-edited publication) may receive credit. Evidence of work completed (e.g. portfolio, audio tapes) letters of evaluation by supervisors, regular conferences with the faculty moderator, a structured self-evaluation, and a minimum number of hours (30 per term) and projects completed are required. Students present a proposal to a faculty moderator and obtain approval prior to registering for this credit. Course is repeatable for total of 4 credits. These credits may be used to satisfy the Teacher certification requirement for a communication/language arts “activity.” It may not be applied toward completion of the communication major or minor.

397 Internship. (1-16)
Practical off-campus experience for juniors and seniors in the areas of broadcasting, journalism, public relations, public speaking, advertising, human resources management, etc. Experience is arranged by the student with the advice and approval of the internship director and the departmental faculty moderator prior to registering for the course. Departmental moderator supervises and evaluates the experience. Prerequisite: Legal and Professional Issues Seminar. No student will be permitted to register for an internship without completing this seminar. Fall, spring and summer.  Students should contact the Internship Director early in the semester prior to your internship. A maximum of 4 internship credits may be applied toward completion of the major. Internship credits may not be applied to fulfill the requirements of four 300-level courses in Communication for the major. Internship credits may not be applied toward completion of the minor. See department chair for a copy of specific department policies. Faculty in the department are limited to a maximum of three internship supervisions each term. This might mean that not all students who desire to complete an internship for credit will be accommodated.

398 Honors Thesis/Senior Thesis. (4)
Required for graduation with "Distinction in Communication." Prerequisite: HONR 396 and approval of the department chair and the director of the Honors Thesis Program. For further information see HONR 398.

200 Public Speaking Basics. (2)
This course is intended for education majors who need to fulfill the state requirements in oral communication. (Communication majors or minors should take COMM 111 - Introduction to Public Speaking, rather than this class.) Through the study of theory and through applications, students will learn to understand the basic concepts of practical public speaking situations, including the development and delivery of informative and persuasive speeches.