A Message From the Chair

Communication occupies an especially exciting position in contemporary scholarship and education. We have seen over the past generation the emergence of new media forms as fundamental to the fabric of our social, economic, scientific, and cultural life as was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. The ever-expanding centrality of information technology and communication industries; the mass migration of social interactions to the digital world; the substitution of mass media for other institutions of socialization and intermediation; the life-altering impact of globalization, which makes mediated relationships across distance and community boundaries increasingly important; and the growing attention to how built and digital environments assume and shape as well as foster particular forms and practices of life - all have motivated increased attention across the social sciences and humanities to mass media, information technology, and processes of mediation. The "linguistic turn" in many disciplines, subsequently broadened to include visual and other discourses, have similarly increased the centrality of our discipline and the range of its connections to other fields.

As you traverse the website, the department’s unusual approach to the field of Communication will undoubtedly become apparent. Our faculty come from fields across the Social Sciences and Humanities and bring multiple disciplinary traditions and methodologies to bear in the study of communication as an institutional, technological, cultural, architectural, and cognitive phenomenon, inextricably anchored in and shaped by questions of democracy, diversity, social justice, and social change.

What this means for those considering an undergraduate major in Communication is a more theoretically-oriented investigation of how discourses, communication infrastructure, media institutions, and the spatial dimensions of human activity together shape economic, political, and cultural life. Although we do not provide pre-professional training in journalism, advertising, public relations, or business communication, our curriculum is nevertheless rich in hands-on learning opportunities for students interested in designing and producing media, conducting fieldwork, or bridging the university-community divide through participation at a number of our faculty directed, regionally-based labs and community-based sites. Students in Communication can expect to graduate with analytical tools applicable to a variety of careers, not only in the industry sectors traditionally categorized as “Communication,” such as journalism, broadcasting, advertising, and marketing, but in other fields where communication systems and processes are increasingly central, for example, government and public policy, law, business and non-profit organizations.

For prospective graduate students, we offer a PhD program that vigorously engages in the social investigation and transformation of communication practices, marries symbolic and structural approaches, and weaves together perspectives, theories, and methods that include but go beyond those typically deployed in the field. Much of the research in Communication at UCSD looks closely and critically at the organization of extant communication structures, media systems, and technologies to consider how such structures, systems, and technologies might be harnessed to facilitate social change, reshape communication cultures, redistribute social access, and foster new forms of political engagement, public awareness, and social connectedness. These characteristics of our program have made it possible for us to attract innovative faculty and graduate students and to create a challenging, dynamic, and intellectually textured environment for scholarly development, exchange, and research.

I encourage you to peruse the website and to check back periodically to stay current on news, events, publications, and symposia. For those of you interested in learning more about our undergraduate and/or graduate programs, please feel free to contact our faculty and staff.

With best wishes,

Valerie Hartouni
Professor and Chair