Communications Department is keeping up with the times

Emily Loof

Copy Editor

The Department of Communication received a major overhaul over the summer, and newly developed classes and majors are underway.

Last March, The Cardinal reported briefly on the changes to the department, especially the new majors available within the department. But with several new classes also added into the mix and current majors gradually being phased out, there may still be some confusion about what exactly is going on in the department.

Department Chair Dean Beckman and Dr. Steven Schild have developed two new majors: Digital Media and Journalism, and Strategic Communication. The Digital Media and Journalism major is a blending of (and replaces) both the Electronic Publishing and the Journalism majors, which are being phased out; upperclassmen with either of these majors can still graduate with them, but new students cannot pursue them.

Strategic Communication, the second of the new majors, is not a blending of anything but came about for students who want to study “small group and intrapersonal communication,” Beckman said. This major is meant to appeal to students who want to be involved in upper-level management and/or leadership in their careers.

With these new majors has also come a major shift in the Communications Core, or classes that all students of the department are required to take. New classes in the core include Social and New Media Communication, which instructs students on how to use social media channels professionally; Multimedia Production, which shows students how to use different technologies needed to craft messages and tell stories; Social and Data Analytics, a partnership with the Business Department that focuses on teaching students how to measure the success of social media messages; and Portfolio, in which students assemble their written works into a coherent and shareable portfolio for potential job interviews.

Traditional classes such as Reporting I and Practical Grammar and Usage and other staples of communication remain in the core, Beckman said.

The department boasts a new minor this year as well. In addition to the Public Relations minor and the Digital Media and Journalism minor, the department is also offering a Leadership minor. It will mirror the Strategic Communication major in many ways but will focus specifically on building leaders, which according to Beckman is a major initiative in the university’s current Strategic Plan.

These changes came about “because of the clear and rapid professional changes taking place,” Beckman said. “The media changes daily. The skills and knowledge needed by communication professionals today is vastly different than what it was even five years ago.”

Any current student can declare any of the communication majors or minors. Never considered a communication major or minor and think this information is irrelevant to you? Think again.
“No matter what job you go into—faith formation coordinator for a church, corporate sales, or marine biologist—in every business and every walk of life, you will be required to communicate in multiple formats,” Beckman said. “I think more students should look to communication as something to minor in. Our department should appeal to so many students because they’ll develop skills that they’re eventually going to need.”

Author: gkvanb13

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