Changes to political communication major await approval

New politics classes proposed for 2013-2014

by Frankie Olito / Beacon Staff • September 27, 2012

Leaders of the department of communication studies are planning to make changes to the political communication major in an effort to address student concerns over a lack of politically-focused courses, according to Department Chair John Anderson.

The school is creating a plan to replace the course communication and the political world with two classes students can choose from to fill the requirement. Students can take american political discourse or international politics, said Anderson.

Along with the changes to the first level course, the department is hoping to approve new elective classes, according to Anderson. Classes like public diplomacy, political philosophy, and technology and politics are currently offered as topical classes and are being proposed as regular courses, Anderson said.  

“This change gives them more flexibility,” he said. “It includes more global perspectives.”

Michael Weiler, associate professor of communication studies, said he and Gregory Payne, associate professor of communication studies, worked on the proposal for the new changes.

“We’ve been working on this for quite a long time and are very close to coming up with a finished proposal. [We] hope we can accomplish that at the faculty meeting on Tuesday. Then we can meet the deadline for catalog copy,” Weiler said. 

The changes, Weiler said, will create a stronger presence of politics in the classroom with an option to study international politics,

“Politics are defined broadly, not just in terms of election politics but also social advocacy,” Weiler said. “We want to strengthen the social advocacy emphasis as well, and make it a co-equal emphasis.”

Currently, there is only one course in the political communication major that discusses international topics. The International Communication course touches upon communication within other cultures, but it lacks a political component, according to the 2012-2013 course catalogue. 

Weiler said with the proposed courses students will be able to choose international politics or American politics to study, but they can also study both. 

According to Anderson, the department is also planning to reconstruct the communications studies major, but that project is on hold.

These proposed changes come after a focus group of political communication students expressed issues with the major last year. 

“One of the themes that emerged was that the majors wanted more politic specific stuff and more distinct courses. We’re responding to both concerns with our proposals,” he said.

Abagael McCauley, the Student Government Association communications studies senator, said she sees the benefits of such a change.

“It’s incredibly important,” the sophomore political communication and marketing communication double major said. “It creates a distinction and it personalizes your education.”

Erin Goodyear, sophomore political communication major, agrees.

“I think it’s awesome. It definitely makes sense,” Goodyear  said. “It’s innovated and it’s an improvement.”

Weiler said President M. Lee Pelton is cognizant of the fact that some students feel that the school of communication is neglected at times. 

“One of President Pelton’s major objectives is to focus on excellence in the school of communication,” Weiler said. 

Goodyear said she thinks the department can make improvements.

“I think Emerson has a very strong social science platform to offer,” Goodyear said. “Emerson should feature the school of communication more.”

Weiler said the department will be working on new projects throughout the year.

“We plan on moving forward in innovative and interesting ways and is prepared to find resources for that as ideas emerge,” Weiler said. “This is an exciting time for the school of communication.”