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Curriculum Q&A


Master of Arts in Communication Program

The MA in Communication curriculum is innovative, cutting edge, and entrepreneurial in spirit.  It highlights the unique qualities of the program--a commitment to fostering curiosity, creativity, and passion and harnessing those qualities to develop great ideas that make a difference.  

How do communication theory and practice marry in the MACOMM curriculum?

We believe it's essential for the study of communication-or any discipline-to balance theory with practice.  We want our students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their chosen careers.  Our program provides them with a greater understanding of how effective communication shapes successful strategies, structures and processes in organizations and society.  But to have effective communication practice, you need to understand the theory behind it.  Why do we need to question and change the way we do things?  Why do certain communication practices work better than others?  How can we best predict the effects of changing communication strategies?   Theory provides the answer to these questions.

When you say you're teaching students to ask the best questions, what does that mean?

We know that the world is changing rapidly.  We live in a hyper-connected global environment with ever-evolving digital and mobile forms of communication.  These changes are transforming the lives of individuals, organizations and societies.  No one is immune.  The rate of change is unimaginable.  The amount of information accessible to us is unimaginable.  And the challenges that arise as a result are unprecedented.  We believe we can best prepare for these changes by continual learning and asking the right questions.  And the questions are many:

What do these changes mean for individuals?

With advances in digital technology, the tools we use to communicate change daily.  How do we as individuals stay current?  How do we keep our tools sharp to add value to our organizations and society?  And how do we not drown in hyper-connectivity while doing it?

What do these changes mean for business?

Competition is fierce.  The playing field keeps changing with shifting markets, technologies, products, and customer and employee demographics.  It's like playing ball on running water.  How do organizations survive and thrive in today's world?  How do they stay innovative?

Finally, what do these changes mean for society?

The amount of information accessible to us is seemingly limitless.  How do we, as a society, access and process all of this information?  What's "truth"?  What's public?  What's private? How do we engage as citizens?  And most important, how do we not leave others behind who may not have access to the information and technology?

There are many unexplored communication issues and challenges.  Today, more than ever before, we need leaders and engaged citizens.  With challenge comes opportunity,  and we believe we're preparing our students to solve today's communication challenges by giving them the opportunity to ponder these important questions then harness their curiosity and passion to launch innovative solutions.

What does digital literacy mean? Why is it important?  

Digital literacy is the ability to access, analyze and evaluate information and messages; create content; and engage in the community using digital communication tools.  At the Knight School, we believe it is important for our students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels to reflect on the social and ethical implications of digital communication, then work individually and collaboratively to solve problems in our communities-whether they are personal, professional or social issues. 

How are students using what they're learning in the workplace and the community?

The Knight School has strong technological and digital knowledge that allows us to impact the lives of our students and the larger community.  Over the past year, we introduced several digital literacy initiatives through our classes and partnerships in the community. 

We enhance our students' digital literacy through classroom assignments and monthly digital literacy workshops that incorporate a variety of platforms, such as blogs, microblogs, video blogs, podcasts and social networking sites.  Our students tell us that they take these tools to work the very next day and add value to their organizations.  They are showing their organizations the benefit to using digital communication platforms to build community and customer loyalty and to foster innovation. 

We also act as a resource for students seeking ways to serve in the community in projects that have the potential for transformative results.  Our partnerships with local organizations such as schools and libraries allow our students to get out in the community and act as "digital citizens" as they teach others how to best use new digital communication tools to stay engaged and advance their goals. 

Many of our graduate students are inspired by Queens' motto of "Not to be served, but to serve" and chose to develop philanthropic projects as part of their final capstone projects in the master's program.  In the past few years, we seen several capstone projects focused on helping local organizations such as small businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations, cultivate community and innovation through digital communication plans.

What are special topics courses and how do they add to the program?

For the on-campus program, our special topics courses (Comm 668) are offered nearly every term. Special topics courses allow our faculty to offer students courses in specialized areas that draw upon faculty expertise and student needs and interests. Simply put, these courses allow our program to be cutting edge, responsive, and innovative. For example, we have recently offered innovative and diverse special topics seminars including "Proxemics--Space and Communication," "The Art and Practice of Teaching," "Health Communication, Self-Disclosure, and Social Support," and "Global Media."

How is that component of the program part of the overall learning experience?

Our graduate students gain a variety of knowledge and skills in our master's program that allows them to advance their personal goals and contribute to their workplaces and communities.  Our program helps students better understand how effective communication, including the ability to analyze a variety of audiences and craft messages across multiple platforms, enhances organizational strategies, structures and processes.  The Knight School's focus on digital and media literacy enhances students' experience but providing them with critical thinking and the most current tools for communicating in a rapidly changing digital age.

Learn more about the program  or contact Jakita Jones, Knight MA in Communication admissions counselor. 

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