Student demand for a communication program has been growing steadily, according to Wittenberg Provost Sammye C. Greer. A communication major can prepare students for careers in journalism, business, public relations, advertising, social services, law, politics and many others, she said.
Currently Wittenberg has more than 30 students who have created their own interdisciplinary communication majors. Some 25 other interested students have not yet declared a major. In recruiting the Class of 2004, Wittenberg was contacted by 1,156 students interested in studying communication and many comparable colleges already offer formal communication programs, Greer added.
The major will develop into a new academic communication department after three years. In the meantime the new program will be housed administratively with the English department.
Students will be required to take courses from three basic areas: rhetoric (public discourse, political communication, persuasion, argumentation, deliberation); communication and culture (interpersonal, intercultural, organizational) and media, according to Catherine Waggoner, assistant professor of communication.
A fourth key element will require that students apply what they have learned in one of those three areas, she added. Here students could work in areas such as journalism, public relations, photography, public speaking, computer imaging, advertising, or marketing management. The four years of study would be completed by a capstone experience.
Beginning fall 2001, Waggoner and a new faculty member with expertise in media will offer courses for the program. A third full-time faculty member with expertise in relational communication will be hired in 2002, completing the new department.
Waggoner led the curricular planning for the new major, assisted by English faculty and colleagues from across the university. This is a natural area of study for a liberal arts college since in ancient times it was one of the original liberal arts, said Waggoner. “That classical tradition becomes even more appropriate in our contemporary society,” she said.
“More than just a new major, communication courses will enrich the education of our majors in management, political science, sociology, English and other areas,” Greer said. “Our communication program is closely interwoven with established majors to the benefit of each program.”