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Wheaton in Profile

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Departmental Mission Statement

Requirements for Major

                Interpersonal Communication

                Media Studies

                Rhetoric and Culture


Requirements for Minor

Requirements for Theater Minor

General Education Requirement

Journalism Certificate

Course Descriptions


Chair, Associate Professor Kenneth Chase

Professor Lynn Cooper

Associate Professors Emily Langan, Mark Lewis, Joonhee Park, Read Schuchardt, Michael Stauffer

Assistant Professor Theon Hill

Visiting Assistant Professor Rebecca Sietman


Communication is the art of building community through created and shared symbol systems, from the embodied message to digital rhetoric. It is rooted in the creative work of God, establishing communion with his creatures.

The Communication Department equips graduates to build the church and benefit society worldwide by educating whole persons in the history, art, theory, and practice of competent, ethical communication. The Department enables students to understand historical and cultural effects of communication; engage in intentional processes of creating identities and messages; comprehend guiding theories, foundational research, and investigative methods; and demonstrate knowledge, skill and motivation for the ethical creation of messages.

Students focus their studies in one of four areas: Interpersonal Communication, Media Studies, Rhetoric and Culture, or Theater. The department also offers co-curricular activities in debate and theater, and a certificate in journalism. A Bachelor of Arts degree is offered in Communication.

Requirements for the major are 32 hours, including a core of performance (COMM 201), theory (COMM 301 or 302), research (COMM 311 or 312), and senior capstone (COMM 494). These four core courses comprise 14 of the required 32 hours needed for the major and should be completed in sequence. Additionally, students must choose from one of four concentrations: Interpersonal Communication, Media Studies, Rhetoric and Culture, or Theater. Each concentration includes at least 16 hours of course work that progresses from introductory to advanced levels of study. Finally, every major must submit a portfolio and have a senior assessment interview as part of the capstone course.

The Interpersonal Communication concentration explores how meaning develops in messages within personal, social, and institutional relationships, as well as how patterns of human communication behavior contribute to Christian community. Required course offerings include COMM 221 and 424; elective choices are 223, 362, 363, 367, 461, 495 and 496. The core courses are COMM 301 and 311.

The Media Studies concentration helps students engage and contribute to the media environment—the world of symbols and meanings, texts and contexts, form and content—from a critical and cultural perspective. Coursework is divided between theory and practice, with an emphasis on how theory informs and shapes practice and on how medium shapes message. Required course offerings include COMM 241, 246 and at least one upper-division course; elective choices are 215, 242, 243, 341, 343, 345, 444, 445 and 496. The core courses are COMM 301 and 312. (302 and 311 are acceptable substitutions with department chair approval.)

The Rhetoric and Culture concentration prepares students to construct oral messages intended to influence specific audiences and cultures. It also enables students to engage culture critically, charitably, and redemptively. Required course offerings include COMM 253 and 454; elective choices are 252, 353, 363, 393, 444, 495, and 496. The core courses are COMM 302 and 312.

The Theater concentration enables students to investigate their own embodied stories and the stories of others, with the aim of devising means to effectively share those stories with a larger community. Required course offerings include COMM 271; elective choices are 272, 273, 373, 374, 376, 473, 474, 476, 495, and 496. The core courses are COMM 302 and 312.

Requirements for a minor are 20 hours in Communication courses including COMM 201, which also meets the general education requirement, and 301 or 302.

Requirements for a theater minor are 20 hours in Communication consisting of COMM 271, 272, 273, 374, and an elective upper-division COMM course. COMM 373 will NOT count towards the minor.

General Education Requirement. The following courses fulfill the oral competency requirement: COMM 101, 201 (Communication majors and minors only), and 252. This requirement must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

The department offers an honors program for outstanding junior and senior majors desiring to carry out independent research. Details of the program are available from the department Chair and on our department website.

Journalism Certificate

The goal of the journalism certificate is to cultivate the next generation of professional Christian journalists. To meet this goal, this certificate enacts three objectives: 1) to provide a strong undergraduate preparation for students interested in career journalism; 2) to encourage students to seriously consider journalism as a desirable Christian vocation, and 3) to develop a global network of internship and career opportunities for student journalists.

Students pursuing the certificate will be approved by the program coordinator and will be expected to meet regularly with the coordinator and other journalism students for program review, networking, and career discussions. Certificate students will be required to attend two co-curricular or extra-curricular journalism events per semester for four semesters. Events may include guest lectures, involvement with The Record, WETN, or other on-campus publications, consultation with visiting practitioners, and participation in World Journalism Institute conferences. Students are encouraged to take advantage of courses beyond the required 24 hours.

Required courses:

Core Requirements—12 hours*

                COMM 246 Media Production

                COMM 215 Journalism or COMM 415 Advanced Journalism

                4 hrs: Media and Society (Select one of the following):

                                COMM 241 Media Studies

                                COMM 341 Media, Religious, Culture

                                COMM 444 Special Topics in Media and Culture

                                COMM 454 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Culture


Elective Requirements—4 to 6 hours*

                COMM 242 Media Performance

                COMM 343 Writing for Media

                ART 318 Graphic Design I or ART 319 Documentary Photography

                ENGW 444 Feature Writing (2) [has a recommended prerequisite: ENGW 214 Discursive Writing (2)]

                COMM 415 Special Topics in Journalism,

                COMM 416 Special Topics in Journalism (2)

*At least 6 hours of core and elective requirements must be in upper division (300 or 400 level) courses.


Practitioner Requirements—6 – 8 hours**

                COMM 296

                COMM 498

**At least four hours of practitioner requirements must receive a letter grade.


Transfer credit from the CCCU’s Best Semester Washington Journalism Center can be applied towards the certificate; 4 hours of the Washington internship will count as the graded internship (COMM 498) requirement, and one additional Washington course of 3 or 4 hours will be the equivalent of COMM 415: Special Topics in Journalism. The remaining two hours of Washington internship credit will be counted as elective hours towards graduation. Students pursuing the CCCU Washington Journalism Center option will be required to complete 2 additional hours from Practicum or internship at Wheaton.

Communication Courses (COMM)

COMM 101. Public Speaking. (Gen Ed) A performance-based course to aid students in the invention, organization, delivery, and criticism of informative and persuasive speeches. This course does not meet major requirement. (2)

COMM 171. Introduction to Acting. A beginning acting course focusing on acting for the stage, with emphasis on self-awareness, improvisation, imagination, and technique. The course features exercises, monologues, and scene work. Designed for students in any major. (2)

COMM 201. Fundamentals of Oral Communication. (Gen Ed for majors and minors only) A performance-based course involving the nature of communicative interactions, message construction and criticism, and ethical responsibilities involved in communicating. Required of majors and minors.

COMM 215. Journalism. An overview of basic writing skills utilized in mass media, with a practical emphasis on the gathering and writing of news and sports, and analysis of campus and metropolitan newspapers.

COMM 219. Journalism Co-Curricular. A periodic gathering of journalism students for the purpose of applying and broadening the academic discussion of journalism. Students are required to attend two approved events per semester for four semesters.

COMM 221. Interpersonal Communication. An examination of face-to-face interactions using cognitive learning, skills training, and experiential techniques to better understand and interact with others. Topics include verbal messages, nonverbal communication, listening, self-disclosure, conflict, gender roles, and intercultural communication.

COMM 223. Communication and Diversity. An overview of how perceived difference shapes and influences our interaction with others. Discussion covers the impact of diversity on language, nonverbal communication, mediated messages, relationships, and conflict. Course may be repeated for credit in Gender or Intercultural communication. (2)

COMM 241. Media Studies. An introduction to approaches and practices used to examine and evaluate the media environment. Background readings, examination of current criticism, and beginning practice in media criticism are employed.

COMM 242. Media Performance. A skills-based course for in-studio practice of audio and video technique in news, music, and narrative broadcast programming. Students are coached in voice, diction, and production logistics.

COMM 243. Digital Society. An examination of the new media environment and its influence on social spaces, cultural meanings, and human interactions.

COMM 246. Media Production. An overview of media production skills with an emphasis on recording, editing, and producing using new media technologies and distributing them in varying outlets. Students will be expected to create video blogs, podcasts, and other new media texts.

COMM 252. Argumentation and Debate. (Gen Ed) A performance-based course in which students learn argument design, including use of reason and evidence, and practice in competitive debate.

COMM 253. Messages, Influence, and Culture. An examination of the strategic use of messages in creating social change. The course will also introduce students to methods of cultural analysis. Diversity designation.

COMM 271. Theater Survey. An exploration of the history of theater, the nature of theater as a communication art, and the roles of playwright, director, designer, actor and audience. $100 fee for Chicago theater trips.

COMM 272. Scenography. An exploration of scenographic theory and production practices necessary to move theater design from page to stage, including scene design, stage lighting and costuming. Prerequisite: COMM 271 or permission of instructor.

COMM 273. Acting I. An investigation of the fundamentals of acting technique through foundational exercise and scene work, including observation, physical awareness, stage discipline, and text analysis. Prerequisite: COMM 271.

COMM 275x. Musical Theater London. See MUCS 275.

COMM 296. Journalism Practicum. A lower level experiential learning internship enabling students beginning their journalism program to gain hands-on experience under professional supervision. The Program Coordinator will supervise this course in conjunction with a site supervisor. Internship form required. (2 – 4).

COMM 301. Communication Theory. An overview and integration of current approaches to understanding interpersonal, small group, organizational, mass, and intercultural communication. Prerequisite: COMM 201 or permission of instructor.

COMM 302. Rhetorical Theory. An historical and critical analysis of the modes of persuasion. The contributions of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine, as well as selected medieval, renaissance, modern, and postmodern theorists will be considered. Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor.

COMM 311. Human Communication Research. An overview of methods and techniques for systematic observation of communication behavior. Students will learn to design, run, and analyze various qualitative and quantitative methods in areas of their communication interest. Prerequisites: COMM 201 and COMM 301, or permission of instructor.

COMM 312. Communication Criticism. A study of communication performances using a variety of methods, with special attention to textual analysis. Texts selected will be taken from mass media, theater, and public speaking. Prerequisites: COMM 201, and 301 or 302, or permission of instructor.

COMM 341. Media, Religion, and Culture. An examination of the intersection of media and religion from a cultural and theological perspective. Prerequisite: COMM 241 or permission of instructor.

COMM 343. Writing for Media. An overview of the craft of writing promotion and programming for radio, television, feature film, and multimedia. Prerequisite: COMM 241 or permission of instructor. Not offered in 2015-16.

COMM 345. Narrative Media. A skills-based course in non-linear editing, advanced techniques of media production, sound design, and directing. Students will make a narrative or documentary visual production, utilizing lighting, sound, and directing. Not offered 2015-16.

COMM 353. Advanced Persuasive Speaking. A skills-based class in which students become proficient in researching and delivering public speeches and oral performance within a variety of contexts. Prerequisite: COMM 101, 201, 252, or passed oral competency exam

COMM 362. Group Dynamics. An experiential course which integrates theory and practice in small task groups. Topics include roles and leadership, discussion, decision making and problem-solving, social influence, conflict, power, and interaction in peer groups. (2)

COMM 363. Persuasion. An examination of theories of attitude and behavior change, specific techniques of persuasion, and analysis of contemporary practitioners. Students will gain experience in attitude research and preparing a persuasive strategy.

COMM 367. Reconciliation & Conflict Resolution. This course provides theoretical and practical resources for working through conflict in interpersonal, group, and international contexts. An emphasis will be placed on negotiation tactics and reconciliation processes. (2)

COMM 373. Theater Workout. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. One hour credit per year. Register for credit in Spring semester. Graded pass/fail (0 or 1)

COMM 374. Directing. An investigation of the stage director's art and craft: play selection, casting, mounting the play, rhythm, characterization, and actor-director relationships. Prerequisites: COMM 271 and 273. $100 fee for Chicago theater.

COMM 375. European Theater Studies. Students will study contemporary European theater in production. Selected playwrights, performance theory and styles will be studied in the class to be used as a basis for the evaluation of live performances in London, Paris, Berlin and Prague. (2)

COMM 376. Church and Theater. An investigation of the theological and aesthetic relationships of the church to the dramatic arts. Lab experiences facilitate practical application of these discoveries. Not offered 2015-16.

COMM 393. Intercollegiate Debate (Practicum). Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. One hour credit per year (4 hours maximum; 2 hours maximum if combined with COMM 252). Register for credit in Spring semester. Graded pass/fail (0 or 1).

COMM 415. Special Topics in Journalism. An advanced study of such topics as interviewing, community journalism, ethics and the law, and investigative reporting. Guest instructors will be selected who have established professional success in journalism. Course may be repeated for separate topics. (4). Prerequisite: COMM 215 or permission of instructor. Not offered 2015-16.

COMM 416. Special Topics in Journalism. An advanced study of such topics as interviewing, community journalism, ethics and the law, and investigative reporting. Guest instructors will be selected who have established professional success in journalism. Course may be repeated for separate topics. (2) Prerequisite: COMM 215 or permission of instructor.

COMM 424. Special Topics in Interpersonal Communication. An advanced study of such topics as listening, nonverbal communication, friendship, family relationships, non-profit organizations, and sports communication. Prerequisite: COMM 221 or permission of instructor. Course may be repeated for separate topics. (2-4)

COMM 444. Special Topics in Media and Culture. An advanced study of such topics as globalization, iconomy, virtual identities, and media and politics. Prerequisite: COMM 241 or COMM 253, or permission of instructor. Course may be repeated for separate topics. (2-4)

COMM 445. Media Constructions. An advanced study of professional-level video production, with structured teaching leading to high quality portfolio presentations in the media industry. Prerequisites: COMM 246 and 345 or permission of instructor. Not offered 2015-16.

COMM 454. Special Topics in Rhetoric & Culture. An advanced study of such topics as Civic Discourse, Critical Approaches to Rhetoric and Culture, and Public Advocacy. Prerequisite: COMM 253 or permission of instructor. Course may be repeated for separate topics.

COMM 461. Organizational Communication. An application of communication theory and research in work contexts. Both corporations and non-profits will be examined through case studies, site visits, interviews, applied research, and team work projects.

COMM 473. Acting II. An application of developing acting skills to a series of exercises, monologues and scenes. Prerequisites: COMM 271, 273, or permission of instructor. May be repeated as Acting II: Shakespeare.

COMM 474. Special Topics in Theater. An advanced study of such topics as Theories of Contemporary Theater, Advanced Production, and Theater and Culture. Prerequisite: COMM 271 or permission of instructor. Course may be repeated for separate topics. (2-4)

COMM 476. Theater and Culture. The course will examine the role of the theater as a vehicle of social change throughout history and in contemporary culture. Through selected play readings and laboratory experiences, the student will be challenged to explore the responsibility of the Christian theater artist to his/her local and global community. Prerequisite: COMM 271 or permission of instructor

COMM 494. Senior Seminar. An overview and integration of ethical perspectives as students consider the role of responsible communication in contemporary society. Development of the portfolio assessment is included. Prerequisite: COMM major with Senior standing. (2)

COMM 495. Independent Study. An investigation of current issues and developments in a specialized area of communication. Prerequisites: two appropriate Communication courses and permission of a professor. (1-4)

COMM 496. Internship. An application of course work that engages the student in a responsible role as a worker in an organization or other practical experiences. Prerequisites: 16 hours in Communication; junior or senior standing with Communication major or minor. Graded pass/fail. (2-4; may be repeated for a maximum of eight credits, but only four hours count toward the major.)

COMM 498. Journalism Internship. An application of course work that engages the student in a responsible role as a worker in the journalism profession. This experience will receive a letter grade based on a portfolio of work, journal entries, summative essay, and site supervisor evaluation.

Revision Date: June 1, 2015



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