Department of English, Communication, and Philosophy
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Madison, NJ 07940

The Bachelor of Arts in
Communication Studies

Program Description

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The landscape of communication is changing rapidly and profoundly and the maps and models of the old systems are being challenged. Future communication professionals need to be grounded not only in the issues and debates concerning the role of new media but also in the historical and cultural contexts in which these debates are framed.

The BA in Communication Studies at the College at Florham is an interdisciplinary liberal arts major that prepares students for a wide-range of communication careers as well as for advanced academic study. Course requirements in media studies, organizational communication, global communication, and writing, introduce students to major areas of study and practice, while requirements in literature provide an analytic grounding that puts communication in the larger context of culture.

Cognate courses in visual and performing arts, sociology, psychology, marketing and management provide additional perspectives on communication issues and practices.

The major culminates in an internship in a communications-related firm where students acquire real-world experience. Many internships have resulted in employment opportunities after graduation. Graduates of the program are employed throughout the northeast in a variety of corporations as editors, writers, technical writers, marketing representatives, public relations specialists, assistant producers, among others. Many students have gone into teaching and the law.

The degree is offered through the Department of English, Communication and Philosophy in the Becton College of Arts and Sciences on the Florham-Madison Campus. The situation of Communication Studies alongside English and Philosophy allows for a unique interdisciplinary approach to the subject.

The study of Communication demands a knowledge of and expertise in the problems that have shaped the Western philosophical tradition from Descartes onwards. Questions concerning epistemology (how do we know?), the philosophy of language (how do words mean?), and the philosophy of mind (how can we understand?) form the foundation of the problematics that drive Communication Studies: what is meaning? What makes meaning possible? How can meanings be communicated? How is meaning understood? How can meaning be transmitted accurately and effectively? How is meaning used to persuade? How is meaning created? Such questions have been the domain of Western philosophers for a number of centuries and an understanding of contemporary communication issues cannot be complete without an awareness of this tradition.

The field of English Literature shares much in common with Communication Studies. Both address issues of meaning, of how we make sense of the texts that surround us, whether that text be a novel, a television program, or a person's bodily posture. Both fields give students the skills to appropriately read, understand, and act with respect to those texts.

Most importantly, both English and Communication Studies share language as their common focus: how language is used to create literary and social worlds, to create and maintain relationships, and to provide the bridge between our subjective and objective worlds, our personal and social lives, and our private and public identities. Language is THE central and most crucial problematic, and Communication Studies demands that students have a rich and sophisticated knowledge of the nature of language and how it operates in a variety of domains.

Literature is a wonderful way of demonstrating how language works on many different levels to produce meaning, feeling, and entire worlds for our exploration. These skills and tools are essential for communication students attempting to understand the nature of language in relationships, in the media, and between cultures. English Literature is also a wonderful place for introducing students to sophisticated notions of popular culture through the analysis of genres such as detective fiction, the thriller, and science fiction.

We hope you find the study of communication as fascinating as we do!

Copyright 2002 by Fairleigh Dickinson University
This site last updated April 22, 2002, by Gary P. Radford.