Communication and the Liberal Arts
Department Mission Statement
To act in useful ways and to create beauty in the world are two of humanity's deepest impulses, and it is to these impulses that we owe virtually every good and beautiful thing in the world.
--Page Smith, Killing the Spirit, Penguin Books, 1990
The Department of Communication and Media Studies offers a major and a minor in communication. The department is an integral part of Goucher's liberal arts education. Students are encouraged to develop a sense of communication history and are provided with the means of mastering the language of modern media. They are challenged to develop a critical view and ethical judgments about contemporary media issues. Academic and theoretical classes are supplemented with skills-oriented coursework, applied internships, and research activities.
In its essence, a liberal education is about a process: the process of learning to learn, grasping concepts of reality, and deepening comprehension of self. A liberal education helps each student form a world view and a philosophy of life. In this process, the student gains ethical and civic maturity and embraces a sense of responsibility to humankind. The college experience entails intellectual, ethical, and creative growth. The process depends on freedom of thought -- a freedom predicated upon sound judgments and disciplined argumentation and understanding, in an environment that fosters mutual respect among learners. It is about living consciously and questioningly. This process, honed during the college years, should be life-long.
The Communication and Media Studies Department at Goucher is an integral part of the liberal arts. It is not a pre-professional program. It is not oriented toward or framed by a "skills" acquisition philosophy: such a framework would work counter to a liberal arts education and Goucher's mission as a liberal arts college. All of our coursework seeks to raise and perhaps answer important questions about human beings, social organization, and cultural forces. These questions treat a wide range of issues, from our relationship to the natural environment to the economic forces that structure media practices. We seek to understand the historical development of film genres, patterns of representation of social groups, and the artistic and persuasive impact of individuals. Our field is by necessity interdisciplinary, traversing history, politics, sociology, and several art forms, within a global perspective. The most important things students can learn in their education is to ask probing questions; to discover what resources are available to aid in answering these questions; to really consider and understand other people, other ideas, and new ways of thinking, observing, and being: to explore the world to the best of their abilities. This is an awesome and endless task -- a process more than a result.
In conjunction with this exploration, the department seeks to foster the ability to express and communicate ideas, arguments, historical findings, and creative insights. Students develop their writing skills in both analytical and creative contexts. Many also learn to express themselves using newer media technologies. They learn to apply theoretical concepts to creative work and experiential insights about production to their intellectual research. Students are encouraged to pursue specific interests in television and film studies, video and audio production, print, radio and television journalism, photography, advertising and public relations, and popular culture studies. The department sponsors a student-staffed campus radio station and a television channel, and serves in an advisory role with the student newspaper, The Quindecim. Students complete internships in a variety of arenas, including television, radio, public relations, advertising, nonprofit agencies, film, news writing and production, and marketing. Motivated students are always encouraged to pursue independent research in their particular areas of scholarly interest.
To sum up, we hope that all of our students will leave Goucher and our department as lifelong learners; as thinking, caring human beings; as critical problem solvers; as innovative and ethical creators; as independent, intelligent people who view life through the filter of history and multicultural understanding. We also hope our students will leave here with the ability to write well and to communicate well in other forms, such as video, audio, photography, and new media. We maintain high expectations and hope that students will also challenge themselves continuously, strive to work independently, and take full advantage of the opportunities that Goucher, and our department, present to them.