About Us

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 2015.  In the undergraduate program, we are celebrating the commencement of 16 of our seniors... congratulations to Jayleen, Benissa, Monica, Monica, Mitchell, Tori, Victoria, Patience, Michelle, Georgianne, Garrick, Helen, Amy, Joe, Danna, and Sheena!  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 research projects in their capstone seminar, which they presented at the URSA Research Fair competition.  The projects mostly used varied forms of social media as data, drawing on YouTube for concussion discussions, Twitter for vaccination and anti-vax debates, television and YouTube for Superbowl advertisement analysis, Twitter and traditional newspapers for Iditarod coverage, and Twitter for climate change/global warming longitudinal hashtag usage.

Our graduate students continue to excel and impress.  This year, one of our former grad students Kristin Timm was among the top-25 most cited theses, and her work since then has won her a Vizio award.  One of our former grad students completed an interdisciplinary PhD and is now working as faculty here for the Alaska Native Knowledge Network http://ankn.uaf.edu/.  Some among this year's graduates have gone to work in Juneau (congratulations Mary!) and the local Autism Society http://www.asagoldenheart.org.  Still others continue in their original employment here locally.  We are proud of all of you, and hope you'll stay in touch!

The faculty presented at severa conferences this year, including the National Communication Association conference (in DC this year) and the Northwest Communication Association.   There's also been a lot of travel in-state as well this year, with faculty doing community-based projects in Tok, Galena, and Barrow.  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). 

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