With approximately 300 majors and minors, Communication is one of the largest and most diverse departments on campus, offering over 40 courses that present considerable breadth and depth in the areas of rhetoric, media studies, and human communication.
The study of communication is inherently dynamic since it involves highly complex interactions between people and their environment, and between individuals and society. Over its long history, the discipline of communication has continued to change and expand to encompass new theories, account for new social and technological developments, and develop new methodologies and approaches for studying meaning-making and its political and social consequences.
A sympathetic affinity between the study of communication and the community, which keeps theory symmetrically aligned with praxis, is essential to the vitality of the discipline and thus to those who seek a degree within it. Therefore, the department sees its mission as educating students about communication within a framework that emphasizes social justice, ethical interaction, community involvement, and an understanding of the workings of power and privilege.
Among our goals—faculty and Communication students alike—are:
- To understand the role communication plays in the construction of knowledge;
- To critically analyze and evaluate communicative processes and actions;
- To study communication in order to make us more humane and create a community of understanding;
- To develop imagination and creativity in our approach to the study of communication;
We provide a range of resources and programs for students including academically rigorous classes, opportunities to work closely with professors on research, creative teaching that often includes service learning, regular research colloquia and guest speakers, a national honorary society, and more.
Communication faculty work with students to produce research of exceptional quality. Students have presented papers at the DePauw University Undergraduate Honors Conference, the conference on Ethnicity and Family Communication, the National Communication Association and at the Eastern States Communication Association.
The Communication Department offers a rigorous and robust curriculum that addresses three overarching areas of study: Relational Communication, Rhetoric, and Media Studies. In the tradition of the liberal arts, we encourage students to take courses from all three areas of study to appreciate the complexity of communication. It is our commitment to educate autonomous thinkers who use moral discernment when addressing the issues of our time through a curriculum that engages students in intersecting media, texts, and interactions when analyzing meaning-making in any given context.
Our curriculum emphasizes cognitive complexity in processes of inquiry, analysis, reflection, writing, and speaking.
- At the 100-level, courses introduce topics relevant to the study of communication and ways of thinking about communication in the world;
- 200-level courses introduce theoretical perspectives, assisting students in formulating and investigating questions appropriate to the discipline as taught at Denison;
- 300-level courses explore theory and research that helps students utilize the power of communication perspectives and methodologies on topics important to them and to society;
- 400-level courses engage students in developing proficiency in the study of communication and producing new knowledge that is socially significant, ethically informed, and fundamental to cultivating one’s self as a life-long learner.
Throughout the curriculum we generate opportunities in many ways for students to practice what they are learning. Students practice the discipline through structured opportunities that promote original research in senior seminars, conference presentations, journal publications, and summer research. In terms of less traditional modes of practice students have multiple opportunities to address publics through speaking and writing, ethically engaging with other students from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, using technology as agents rather than consumers, and interrogating and rethinking the performance of the self. Insofar as “practicing” the discipline involves mindful awareness and reflection on the processes of communication that continually surround students, the department does this as a matter of course.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Department will consider granting exceptions to majors who are unable to enroll in COMM 280 and/or 290 by the end of their sophomore years. Students who wish to petition for late enrollment should have fulfilled the following conditions for consideration:
You have already taken either COMM 280 or 290.
You have been previously waitlisted for either COMM 280 or 290.
You have transferred to Denison from another school.
Students wishing to petition must submit a written petition (available at petition form [pdf] ) and a transcript. The Department will evaluate student petitions on a case-by-case basis. Petition requests will accepted through October 15 in the Fall and March 15 in the Spring (unless the deadline is on a weekend or holiday in which case the deadline will fall on the following Monday that school is in session).
The Department will consider granting internship credit to students who meet ALL of the following requirements:
You must be a communication major or minor.
You must have a GPA of at least 3.0 in your Communication courses.
You must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5.
You must have completed COMM 280 and 290 PLUS at least one other relevant Communication course before the start of your internship. Students who meet the above requirements and wish to petition must complete the following:
You must submit a written petition (available at transfer credit [pdf]).
You must find a faculty advisor with whom you have had class. This is in order for your advisor to tailor a suitable academic component to the internship.
A student can do two internships and have the resulting four credits count as an elective, but not as a 300-level course.
Directed and Independent Studies can be used to fulfill elective requirements, but not the 300-level course requirements. The requirement that students take two 300-level courses mandates that two courses be taken.
The differences between these, in addition to Senior Research and Honors Research, are explained in the College Catalogue, pp. 12-13. A directed Study involved intensive work in close association with a faculty person around a subject not offered within the curriculum. Independent Studies are relatively undirected, with faculty involvement typically at the beginning and conclusion of the project. Note that in neither case should independent work duplicate a regularly-offered course.
No. Senior Research can be used to fulfill the elective requirements but not the 300-level course requirement.
The College norm is a maximum of 60 out of the 126 required for graduation. In the department, no more than 3 courses, or 12 credits, can be transferred into the major.
Students can use 8 credits of off-campus study work towards the major requirement of 36. Minors can count four credits of off-campus work towards their 24 credit total.
If the internship has involved Communication, the student can count two of the credits under our own internship policy, and the remaining six credits can be counted toward the 126 needed for graduation, but not toward the 36 needed for the major.
The 300-level courses and the senior seminar all must be taken at Denison. If upper-division courses are taken off campus, they can be used to fulfill elective requirements. When students take courses off campus, they should always be advised to bring back copies of syllabi, papers, etc. to demonstrate the level of the work they did.
No more than two General Education requirements can ever be met by courses from a single department. However, if a student has passed out of a requirement (this would include either the R or the K), completion of the requirement via proficiency exam doesn’t count toward that two course limit. So a student that proficiencied out of the R could meet two additional Gen. Ed. requirements through Communication courses. (Again, the same is true in Modern Language.)