Karen Tracy, Chair, Department of CommunicationMessage from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Communication!

We all have reasons to be effective communicators: making close relationships; workplace exchanges; public meetings; volunteer and recreational groups; political, environmental or social media campaigns. During your time in our department we will be encouraging you to become a skilled and thoughtful actor and analyst in the kinds of communication situations you care about most passionately.

We are a lively intellectual community. Across the centuries writers have had world-changing and interesting ideas about communication. Writers have also had bizarre ones that caused harm. With the increasing amount of technological change, novel, hybrid ideas also are popping up all the time. You will learn about these ideas so you can better handle our vibrant, changing and ever so messy social world.

We believe in the power of talk. In classes you will discuss with fellow students and professors what you find compelling or stupid, useful or problematic, ethical or flawed. Through these conversations you will become a better explainer, tactful criticism-giver, effective problem-solver, good argument maker and poised speaker.

We believe in the power of writing. You will get to observe interesting communication practices and write up reports.  You will receive complex cases about organizational branding, community initiatives to foster diversity or coaches’ presentations of team troubles to which you will craft responses. You will get to pursue research in the world and in the library about communication issues that especially intrigue you.

When you graduate you will take the skills you acquired during your time with us—working in groups to solve problems, designing ethical effective messages, analyzing what is working (or not) in face-to-face and mediated scenes—to secure a position in one of the many business, community and government jobs that is looking for a good communicator.


Karen Tracy
Department of Communication


About the Department

Communication creates the society in which we live, work and play. In the Department of Communication, you will learn about the communication practices that underlie all of our social interactions, both in face-to-face interaction and in new forums like social media. Your education will enable you to enact change in your personal life, work life and civic life.

The communication curriculum blends the best of a broad, liberal arts education with training in practical skills that contribute to career and life success. You’ll learn how to analyze and effectively engage in a wide range of communication practices. You will also gain valuable communication skills—speaking, listening, managing conflict, building consensus, analyzing audiences, designing messages and collaboratively solving problems.

Within the department, you can pursue your interests by focusing on human relations, organizations and professions, public advocacy, race and gender or communication across cultures.