CofC Logo

Areas of Study in Communication

The department's curriculum is integrated, covering the entire range of communication topics.  Our faculty expertise and research afford students the opportunity to explore communication in all areas of the field. We encourage you to take advantage of the depth and breadth of the talents and expertise of your faculty.  Listed below are some of these areas.  Be sure to discuss your interests with your advisor:

STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION is the study of how organizations and individuals use communication to negotiate their role in society. Public relations is a central aspect of strategic communication and involves the study of how organizations utilize responsible behavior and two-way communication in order to influence opinions and behavior of key publics as well as to respond and adapt to the concerns of those publics. Strategic Communication includes the applied and theoretical sides of communication in regard to social influence, reputation management, and brand communication. Students specializing in strategic communication will learn how to develop, execute and evaluate complex integrated communication plans and cases using research, analysis, critical thinking, creativity, and practical skills. As such, students that complete the strategic communication area of specialization are prepared to launch meaningful careers in corporate communications, public relations, marketing communications, community outreach/public information and public affairs for nonprofit, agency, and corporate organizations, in a variety of specializations. In addition, the rigorous theoretical, research and application-based training in the strategic communication area provides students an outstanding foundation for graduate school.

The strategic communication area is a sequence of a minimum of three courses: 1) COMM 310: Message Design and Influence, Writing for Strategic Communication, 2) COMM 410: Analysis of Communication Practice, Strategic Communication, and 3) COMM 480/481: Capstone in Communication, Strategic Communication Campaigns. The COMM 310 course in Strategic Communication serves as a prerequisite for the COMM 410 course in Strategic Communication, and both courses are required in order to apply for the capstone experience in Strategic Communication Campaigns. Students are strongly encouraged to take COMM 336 Addressing Problems in Context: Strategic Communication, as well as other courses with a strategic communication focus. 

In addition, all students interested in strategic communication are encouraged to complement their coursework through participation in the Public Relations Society of America student chapter, which offers both leadership and networking opportunities. Finally, a professionally oriented internship is also encouraged and ensures that students gain the hands-on experience that merges both academic and professional interests.

HEALTH COMMUNICATION involves the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions related to health. A health communication scholar may study a wide variety of contexts, such as communication that occurs between health providers and patients, sources people consult for health information, construction of public health messages and campaigns, and images portrayed by health providers and health issues in the media. Communication majors who focus their studies in health communication may pursue jobs with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, HMOs, local or state health departments, health-related non-profit organizations, federal government health agencies, or other health-related organizations and companies.

POLITICAL COMMUNICATION is an area within the disciplines of communication and political science that is primarily concerned with the composition, transfer, and reception of political messages. Political communication scholars pursue the „political‰ in a variety of ways including analyzing campaigns, governance, international relations, media, social movements, and identity politics. The sum total of these inquiries produces a knowledge base that allows scholars and students to speak to questions about the health of the public sphere, challenges posed by media, possibilities for citizen engagement, and, ultimately, how individuals come to understand political power in its various forms.

PUBLIC AND VISUAL CULTURE considers the impact of communicative action on modes of cultural production.  Courses in this area study civic and community engagement, cultural studies, film and popular culture, identity and memory politics, intercultural and transnational communication, rhetoric and influence, social justice activism, and/or visual literacy.  Public and Visual Culture is rooted in liberal arts inquiry that studies how citizens communicate in a world in which traditional political and state boundaries take on less significance due to the growth of emergent technologies and continually evolving constructs of self and world.  Faculty and students develop critical tools and practical skills necessary to analyze communication through the production, performance, reception, and circulation of various cultural forms.  Students pursue employment or graduate study equipped with critical reasoning skills, strong communication skills, and the flexibility to productively adapt and excel in evolving workplace cultures of contemporary life.