Cultural Studies and Communication

Mosiac of Knowledge

Letter from the Program Director

Welcome to the website for the Cultural Studies and Communication Program (formerly Communication and Culture), which offers a unique interdisciplinary major and a minor at Clark University — focusing on culture, media, and society.

The program at Clark provides a range of courses, from first-year intensive seminars, “problems of practice” courses, advanced “integrative” seminars, and a range of capstone experiences — all exploring the complexities of culture, communication, and media, in personal, institutional, and societal contexts.  Courses emphasize new ways of thinking about communication, and explore topics as diverse as the effects of mass media, the creation of nationalism and nationalist symbols, gender and language development, and new media technologies.  As a CSAC student, we will work with you to develop critical and analytical skills for understanding the role of communication — locally, nationally, and globally.

Unlike the Communication programs at most universities, our curriculum is neither primarily technical nor skills-based. Although we offer credit for classes focused on professional practice, our goals are analytical: to understand how communications processes work, whether in an argument between friends, an exchange in a social networking site, an interpretation of a popular television show, a political speech or event communicated across the world, or a design of a new technological tool to support neighborhood community organizing.  At Clark, you might study how the dress of Asian women in London has become culturally charged and powerfully coded, how architecture communicates the values of a culture, how images of "minorities" are circulated in advertising and film, or how a program called “Poetry Inside-Out” works in an urban fifth grade classroom.

We are a highly collegial and collaborative faculty — coming from a range of different disciplines, and bringing a wide range of interests and expertise.  We do share, however, a common commitment to interrogating culture and communication — in the service of better understanding and engaging in the modern world.  We see the CSAC major as preparation for leadership in the twenty-first century, working with people, texts, and tools across a wide-range of geographic, cultural, institutional, and linguistic borders.

Using the lens of cultural practice, our program studies communication at the intersection of many disciplines — including sociology, English history, linguistics, urban education, psychology, anthropology, and the fine arts — drawing from both humanistic and social-scientific modes of inquiry to examine fundamental communication processes and effects.  Clark’s global, international character offers many opportunities for our students to think about and to shape the impact of communication throughout the world.  Preparation gained in the major provides a liberal arts orientation to how we think about and participate in communication as the twenty-first century unfolds. 

A Cultural Studies and Communication major provides the tools and analytic insight to collaborate with others across diverse cultural boundaries, document and analyze new digital media tools and products, and advocate for change in a changing world.  Through Harrison Funds, we provide students with support for their own research and development projects, and we encourage students to explore professional practice through internships and study abroad opportunities.  Here are the characteristics we see, in many different forms, in our CSAC students:

A CSAC major (on graduation from Clark) is:

  • a bridge-builder
  • a meaning-maker, aware of power and context
  • a savvy citizen of the world
  • an ideological critic
  • a good conversationalist (well-informed)
  • an intellectual sophisticate
  • someone who “knows B.S.” when they see it, and has the courage to speak up
  • someone who recognizes structure and stricture, and can work with both
  • an assumption and message interrogator and contextualizer
  • an avant gardist
  • the conscience of society

For more information about the program, please contact me at: smichaels@clarku.edu or Donna DiRado, the CSAC program assistant, at 508-793-7180 or through email at ddirado@clarku.edu, or by visiting the CSAC Program office, in 208 Jonas Clark Hall.

Thank you for visiting,

Sarah Michaels, Ph.D.
Program Director
Professor of Education
Senior Research Scholar, Hiatt Center for Urban Education