For over 20 years, the Seattle University communications department has consisted of three unique majors: journalism, communications and strategic communications. But now, the department has decided to merge the three branches underneath the umbrella of “Communications Studies,” with an emphasis in either strategic communications or journalism.
Three majors in the Communications Department will become one.
“We took the last two years to really think about what we wanted to do, and we decided to go from three majors now into one to reflect the convergence that we think is happening,” said Chris Paul, chair of the communications department. “We thought it would be best for students in any institution if we combined it into an unified force.”
The department originally began seeking change after more and more students began demonstrating the demand for more classes that intersected within the department, rather than just their own major.
“The primary impetus was student choice, we felt like our students weren’t able to do the kinds of things that they were coming to us for. Fewer and fewer students were identifying as solely one of these three majors. They were seeing connections before we were,” Paul said. “So we did some deep thinking about what made the most sense for us and our students and this is what we landed on.”
Paul feels these changes will have positive budgetary effects on the department by streamlining the funding for each major into one dynamic program. As for how the faculty and staff of the department deduced what needed to change, they talked with both students and employers to discover what kinds of courses would be most beneficial to the student.
“The primary force behind it was the faculty members who opted into the process of redesigning the major,” Paul said.
In addition to the help of faculty and professors, students are also getting involved by creating marketing strategies for the new changes.
“Our main goal is to just get all the information necessary in front of everybody that we can so that May 8, when registrations starts, everybody is making informed decisions about the new major,” said Charlie James Naughton, a senior strategic communications major and member of the PR team.
“It’s going to look like Facebook posts to the communications department pages, to different class year pages; it’s going to look like info sessions, so hopefully we’re going to have one or two in the coming weeks before registration, and I think we’re going to try and do some class visits just so that we can get freshman and sophomores who need this information going forward,” Naughton said, describing how students will learn about the new program.
“We’re going to be focusing on outreach to existing students, then we’re going to pivot and start addressing possible incoming students and prospective students, so going after freshman, pre-majors, or transfer students, or even prospective Seattle University students.”
As for practical changes for current and incoming communications students, Paul said all incoming students will be enrolled in the new major, while current students will keep the degree title they have worked toward already.
“The new catalog will be on the new major website and then they’ll see two changes, the first thing is we’re going from CMJR, to CFME, which is communications and media, and then there will be new course titles,” Paul said.
Paul also mentioned the possibility of adding more specializations to the major. “We’re still kind of figuring those out, something we’ve talked about is digital communication and political communication.”
Although these changes are important for the student’s education, there are still many communications majors confused over what will be on their next quarter’s registration. “To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what [the changes] consist of. I feel like communications is a pretty broad area of study so maybe it’s good to merge,” said sophomore journalism student Logan O’Neil. “I sort of heard it through the grapevine.”
O’neil’s case isn’t unique.
“As far as I know, there’s been two emails that have been student-facing from Chris Paul mentioning the transitions,” Naughton said.
Despite a lack of initial communication from the communications department, faculty and students of the new major will be returning to Seattle U in the fall with new courses and a new approach to their curriculum. More information can be found on the communication major webpage on the university website.
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