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About Our Curriculum

Graduate students spend their first year taking foundational classes to prepare for first year exams as well as entering the scholastic world of Communication.

Communication as a Social Force

Communication as a Social Force examines the relation of communication institutions to the broad
structures of power in society. In this part of the curriculum, we examine institutional arrangements and
structural characteristics regarding:

  • Communication and political systems: state, law, regulation, social movements and political parties, democracy
  • Communication and economic systems: markets, ownership, access; "demographics" and class/gender/racial and national stratification
  • The production of content within media industries

Faculty research includes the following topics, among others:

  • The study of news as public information and political ideology
  • Telecommunications and the information economy
  • Intellectual property and the flow of culture between global North and South
  • The relationships among law, communication technologies, ownership, democracy and the
    public sphere.
  • Comparative analysis of media systems
  • Communication, globalization and economic development

Communication and Culture

We experience our everyday lives through a variety of cultural artifacts and discourses including news reporting, law and public policy, commodity markets, popular music, films and television shows, advertisements, museum displays, landscape and urban design, and health and identity documentation systems. How can we understand the histories and changing practices associated with these forms of representation? What is the role of media (print, visual, electronic, material) in forming ideas about social identity and in shaping subjectivity? This part of the curriculum draws on the humanities, anthropology, history, political theory, cultural studies and the sociology of culture to offer students a range of methods and theoretical frameworks for interpreting the production and circulation of artifacts, discourses, and meanings in a range of local, national, transnational, and diasporic cultural contexts.

Faculty research includes the following topics, among others:

  • Collective memory and the struggles over the meaning of the past
  • The study of power and politics in the interaction of nature and culture
  • The politics of representation of women, children, reproductive rights, and childbearing
  • Performance, film, and feminist theory
  • The representation of race, gender, and nationalism in colonial settings.

Communication and The Person (sometimes known as Communication and Human Information Processing, or "HIP")

How are individuals constituted in language and culture? How do minds develop and how are persons formed in interaction through various media? This part of the curriculum draws particularly on the fields of psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, and education.

Faculty research includes the following topics, among others:

  • The study of work settings as sites of collective cognition and problem solving
  • The development of reading and writing in deaf children
  • Critical studies of artificial intelligence
  • Design and implementation of new forms of educational activity mediated by computers and telecommunication networks
  • Bilingual and bi-cultural development

Media Practices

Hands-on practice is crucial to the experience of a communication student. The major has a required production component that complements the three areas of theoretical inquiry. Through courses in production, students may produce a documentary video or audio program, create a web site or software project, or organize a media event. Projects may be individually produced, collaborative and/or community-based. With departmental approval, a media project may count toward the degree requirements. Direct involvement in production gives students opportunities to expand their understanding of how media is made, distributed, and interpreted, and how authorship is determined in media arts and industry.

Some communication faculty production interests include:

  • Hybrid documentary and narrative forms
  • Alternative representation of gender, race, and ethnicity in film and electronic media
  • Distributed and networked media production
  • Digital media based on game-like forms
  • Altering and diversifying the terrain of mass media
  • Development and use of media technology in and for educational contexts
  • History, Theory and Development of world cinema and folklore
  • Global media networks
  • Experimental approaches to cinematography and sound design
  • Media as a tool for social and political activism