Communication and Culture

The Communication and Culture Program offers a unique interdisciplinary major and minor at Clark University - emphasizing human communication (broadly conceived). Unlike the Communication programs at most universities, the COMM curriculum is neither primarily technical nor skills-based. Courses focus on the complex relationship between communication and culture, via critical and comparative examinations of media, local and global cultural processess, and socical institutions. The COMM major encourages studetns to think analytically about human communication, to integrate concepts and idea with professional practices, and to engage in original projects and research. The COMM major equips students wtih the tools to become engaged citizens, generators of new knowledge, bridge builders, and 21st century leaders.

Although COMM offers credit for classes and internships focused on professional practice, the primary focus is ideological critique: to understand how communications processes work, whether in an argument between friends, and exchange in a social networking site, and 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.

A Developmental Trajectory — building a strong foundation, linking theory and new digital literacies, leading to capacities for effective practice in the world:

The program at Clark offers a range of first-year seminars (FYIs), and requires that all majors and minors take the foundation course, "
COMM 101," ("Introduction to Communication and Culture"), ideally in their first year. This is followed by a set of required course that examine:

In addition to a solid foundation in chronologies, theeories of culture, and methodologies, the program offers a wide range of "practicum" courses, study abroad opportunities, and internships, emphasizing new digital tools and literacies. Engaging deeply in the world of practice and acquiring new media leteracies helps to prepare students (in their junior and seniors years) for more advanced "problems of practice" courses, integrating theory and the messiness of real world problems. These experiences prepare students to select from a range of capstone options (from capstone seminars, LEEP legacy projects or an Honors Thesis — producing original work of quality and consequence, exploring the complexities of culture, communication, and media, in personal, institutional, or societal contexts.

Q. What is required int he communication and Culture Major?

The COMM major is a 12-course sequence, moving from COMM 101 as the foundation course, to a series of 7 "lenses and tools" courses, at least 1 "engaging in practice" course or internship, and then 2 "problems of practice" courses integrating theory and practice, endind with a "capstone" experience, in which students produce original work of publishable quality and consequence. Below is a check-list of major requirements.

Foundation (1 course)

Lenses and Tools

1. Chronologies-(3 "media through history" course), 1 in each period

2. Theories of Culture — (2 "theory-intensive" courses), emphasizing analytic writing and challenging academic reading

3. Methodologies — (2 "method" courses), emphasizing tools for doing critical analysis and ideological critique

Engaging in Practice — (1 "practice-intensive' course), drawn from many options including Internships and Advanced Practicum courses

Problems of Practice — (2 'PoP" courses), integrating theory and practice

Capstone - Capstone Seminar, Honors Thesis, Capstone Project, LEEP Legacy Project

Additional details, including an updated course list, will be available in September 2013.

Q: What courses should be taken during the first year?
Students considering a COMM major should take the foundation course, COMM 101: Communication and Culture, or the First Year Intensive seminar, COMM 050: Communication and Culture in Main South. Click here to see the course availability.

Q: If key introductory courses are filled, are there good alternatives?
There are always a few spaces available in COMM101 for entering first year students, and the course will be offered again in the spring semester. Courses with openings as of June that will provide a good perspective for entering students on what is meant by the cultural study of communication are:
  • GEOG 017: Environment and Society. Click here to see course availability.
  • COMM 170: Computer Mediated Communication. Click here to see the course availability.
  • ARTH 010: From the Stone Age to Our Age. Click here to see the course availability.
  • ENG 105: News Writing. Click here to see the course availability.
  • SCRN 101: Foundations of Screen Studies. Click here to see the course availability.
  • CMLT 130: The National Imagination. Click here to see the course availability.
  • SPAN 133: Studies in Hispanic Culture. Click here to see the course availability.
  • FREN 124: French Popular Culture. Click here to see the course availability.
  • EDUC 152: Complexities of Urban Schooling. Click here to see the course availablity.
Q: Where should students or faculty go for more information?
Students or faculty can contact Professor Sarah Michaels, Program Director, in the Education Department and the program assistant Donna DiRado (508-793-7180), who will be available after August 16, for further information.