Where We Came From
Communication as a discipline has ancient roots, firmly grounded in Ancient Greek rhetoric. During the millennia since rhetoric ("the art of finding the available means of persuasion") became a subject of study, much has changed, but the core theoretical principles are still constant. You'll see glimpses of them as you study Speech even today.
In modern US institutions, Communication as a discipline originated around the turn of the last century (1914 is usually cited as the break-point, when the National Communication Association was formed, which back then was called the Academic Association of Teachers of Public Speaking), as the vocational instructors of the Elocution movement became more academic, and as departments of English recognized that teaching speech merely as a subset of teaching writing was not doing anybody any favors.
In our particular organization, at UAF the Department of Communication originated as a hybrid with the Theatre department, which later became a separate department when the differences became too large to easily reconcile as a single major.
Where We Are
Currently the department is recruiting graduate students, including 2-3 more Teaching Assistants, for Fall 2014. In the undergraduate program, we are celebrating the commencement of five of our seniors... congratulations to Autumn, Ronnie, Leonard, Miyoung, and MaCherie! You've done well in your courses, and we look forward to your staying in touch with us throughout that first job search and success, and beyond. The seniors this year took on projects in several of the upper division classes, in one of them looking at crisis communication (using oral history data for the research) and in the capstone seminar looking at performance appraisal.
The faculty presented at six conferences this year, with the largest number going en masse to the Northwest Communication Association conference. There's also been a lot of international travel this year... trips to Saudi Arabia, Russia, and our close neighbors in Canada. Summer will be busy, with more classes offered this summer in Comm than in any previous summer. Check out the course offerings using UAF's Coursefinder, and come join us for summer fun in Alaska!
Where We're Going
The department will continue to grow, and in particular is emphasizing developing improved cross-disciplinary opportunities for students. For example, Comm has recently added some upper level courses in conflict management (Justice Dept), and has received curriculum committee approvals for adding courses in PR and event planning (Journalism Dept). The local chapter of PRSA has a formalized mentoring program that we will be working with, for internship placement and other opportunities for students. The Leadership program will mean increasing enrollment in and thus regular offering of courses in Leadership and Advanced Group Work (Management).