Communication, Design and Culture

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Dr. Susan Jasko (chair) | Dr. Sylvia Foil | Dr. Craig Fox | Greg Harrison | Dr. Macdonald Kale | Dr. Patricia Milford | Spencer Norman | Cindy Persinger | Dr. Joel Press | Dr. Nancy J. Shaffer | Dr. Greg Spicer


The Communication, Design and Culture faculty are united in their dedication to understanding how humans create their own symbolic reality through ideas and expression, technology and creativity, and reasoning and interaction. Our aim is to enable students to develop the skills and deep understanding to utilize -- but not be used by -- the many forms of communication and expression common in today‚Äôs digital world. Students graduate from our degree programs understanding how to design and how design effects everyday human experience, and they depart with the strong and well-founded confidence of powerful and adept communicators, and with an understanding and true appreciation of the role of ethics in their careers, communities and lives. 

Our faculty come from several different academic traditions and backgrounds, including communication studies and rhetoric, philosophy, art history and graphic design. Read below to learn a little more about each of these areas. 

Communication Studies

Communication studies is the academic discipline that focuses on human communicative behavior and its influence on our personal, professional, social and cultural lives. The faculty in communication, design and culture believes that human communication is fundamental to an individual's capacity to function as an effective and ethical participant in a free society. The department offers courses and activities designed to help students deal with the demands of varied communication situations and prepare for work in a variety of communication professions. 


The word "philosophy" comes from two Greek words that mean love (philos) and wisdom (sophia), and throughout much of history, anyone who sought knowledge was called a philosopher. Philosophy students study the historical development of theories about the nature of knowledge, reality and values; and they learn how to assess such theories. Students develop abilities to think logically, to explore issues from different perspectives and to present their ideas effectively in writing. 

Graphic Design

A professional degree in graphic design fosters critical and analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication skills, individual initiative and responsibility, professional knowledge and performance skills in a broad range of art media, and an understanding of historical context and the role of art and design in the history of humankind. The primary focus is on the development of concepts, skills and sensitivities essential to the graphic designer.


Students majoring in Communication, Design and Culture can choose from two different degree programs: a B.S. in Graphic Design and a B.A. in Communication Studies. 

B.A. in Communication Studies

Students pursuing a B.A. in Communication Studies can tailor their last two years of coursework in a vast number of ways. Students work with their academic advisers to develop an emphasis according to their interests and career goals. Here are four broad options to consider:

  • The speech communication emphasis focuses on developing skill in the invention, arrangement, style and delivery of messages. Students also gain a keen appreciation of the process of persuasion and how attitudes and beliefs are formed, sustained and challenged. Students in this concentration are well prepared for careers in law, politics, public relations, corporate and organizational communication, customer relations, travel, tourism, hospitality and a host of other professional paths that require skill at persuasion and sensitivity to image.
  • The radio and television emphasis focuses on the application of mass communication theory to the production of messages, particularly in audio and video formats. Students are given solid instruction in basic skills in production and post-production work. Other courses emphasize professional preparation in media writing in various forms (commercial, drama and news writing), methods of media criticism and film analysis, broadcast management, and sports and media relations. Students have opportunity to put thier classroom learning to work at the campus radio station (WCAL) and television station (CUTV) located in the Student Center. 
  • The public relations emphasis seeks to create graduates who understand how public opinion emerges and changes and the role that effective public relations plays in this process. Courses are designed to create professionals with a strong academic background as well as specific career preparation. Students learn the fundamentals of public relations, cultivate skill in writing, grow to understand the role of research, learn to create messages to target particular audiences and practice presentational skills to "pitch" PR campaigns to clients.
  • The philosophy empahsis covers the history of philosophy, logic and issues in philosophy that might be grouped as ethical, epistemological or metaphysical.

BS in Graphic Design

The primary focus of the graphic design program is on the development of concepts, skills and sensitivities essential to the graphic designer. In addition to gaining a solid technical foundation in graphic design, students learn communication, critical, analytic thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as individual initiative and responsibility and professional knowledge.


In addition to the options identified above, students majoring in any other program on campus may choose minors in: 

  • Communication Studies
  • Philosophy

Honor Societies 

Lambda Pi Eta is the national communication honor society that recognizes outstanding achievement by undergraduates majoring in communication studies. Pi Kappa Delta is the honor society for intercollegiate debaters, individual events competitors and teachers of communication. Our department has a long and storied history with successful competition in speech and debate.


The department advises the Philosophy Club, which gives students informal social opportunities for discussions, debates and lectures.

The department hosts a chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. This student organization offers students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and provides professional development opportunities.

The Vulcan Speech and Debate Team offers students the opportunity to develop and sharpen oral presentation skills through participation in regional competitions. 

The department also hosts topical lectures and forums.


Communication Studies

Aside from the obvious careers in broadcast journalism or public relations, an undergraduate major or minor in communication studies is an asset for careers in law, religion, education, labor relations, politics, marketing and human resource development.

Employers continue to rank communication skills at the very top of desirable traits for employees.


Those focusing their study on philosophy go on to a variety of careers: law, ministry, teaching, civil service and management, to name a few. Indeed, philosophy is well-suited for any career that values critical reasoning, logical problem solving and an ability to look at issues from many perspectives. Increasingly, the business world is looking for this kind of liberally educated person.

Graphic Design

Graduates with a B.S. in Graphic Design have plentiful opportunities for careers in the expanding fields of advertising, graphic design and web design.