Mary C. Toale, Chair
Directory of Professors
Communication Studies examines the fundamental role that communication plays in our personal lives, our work and the world. It explores how humans interact with one another, how we exchange ideas and create messages. This includes examination of different ways we communicate by focusing on relationships ranging from the one-to-one relationship of friends, to groups and those who reach out to mass audiences. We also study the symbols used to communicate meaning and the environment in which communication occurs.
The study of communication spans the history of human development—from the days of Aristotle to media and beyond to the frontiers of cyberspace. Because the discipline is broad, we offer a choice of different degree programs: Communication and Social Interactions, Public Relations, Broadcasting and Mass Communication, and Journalism. We cosponsor interdisciplinary major programs in Cinema and Screen Studies, Information Science, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Linguistics. Minors in communication and social interaction, and journalism along with interdisciplinary minors in peace and conflict studies, and arts management allow students a wide variety of study options.
The department’s goal is to provide a learner-centered environment. We stress effective writing skills, sensitivity to the social sciences and history, an understanding of how technology impacts communication as well as an appreciation of the dramatic and creative nature of the discipline.
Communication Studies offers numerous opportunities for experiential learning through internships, on-campus clubs and organizations, and through supervised activities that include service-learning and production.
The department boasts excellent facilities including wide-screen and standard digital television studios, high-definition editing suites, radio studios, and a multitrack audio recording facility. In addition, SUNY Oswego has a rich media landscape including professional and student media. WRVO-FM, the college’s award-winning National Public Radio affiliate; WTOP, the campus television station that houses the Al Roker Television Studios; WNYO-FM, Oswego’s student music radio station; the Oswegonian, the student-staffed and managed newspaper; and Oswego Online all provide numerous opportunities for student self-expression.
Students are encouraged to participate in department-related activities throughout the year, including the Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit, our spring study abroad program, COM week, and Hollywood POV, a summer program based in Los Angeles that examines the entertainment industry.
Broadcasting and Mass Communication
The major is designed to provide students with an understanding of the evolving mass media industries including radio, television, cable, film, the Internet and multimedia. Oswego provides students with the opportunity to study media in a traditional campus setting or online via the Web. Students study a core of courses related to the creation and production of media, the interrelated nature of the media industries and the skills necessary to write, produce and distribute media messages. Students may explore a variety of areas including audio and video production, broadcast journalism, copywriting and media management.
Students are encouraged to participate in one or more internships during their college careers. The department offers media internships all across America and in foreign countries.
Communication and Social Interaction
The major explores the various ways human beings interact and exchange ideas about feelings and beliefs to build relationships and gain cooperation with others. Students analyze the process of creating, sending and interpreting verbal and nonverbal messages that run the gamut from one-to-one relationships, to group and organizational relationships, to relationships between the individual and the media.
Students may explore the humanistic, behavioral and interactional dimensions of human communication, and then go on to study such specific influences on communication as gender, culture, conflict, ethics, and cognition. Or, students may focus on public communication, which includes the study of public speaking, the critical analysis of public messages, and the understanding of principles of persuasion and argumentation.
Communication is a popular major for students interested in wide variety of careers including management, speech writing, political communication, human resources, sales, and law. Students majoring in business management and marketing as well as many other majors will find a minor in communication useful.
The interdisciplinary BA degree program is designed to prepare students to gather, write, edit, package and produce news stories. The study of journalism allows students to develop and apply their critical thinking, research and communication skills. In addition, the program emphasizes the social, ethical and legal contexts within which journalism is practiced in the United States. The Center for Community Journalism, located on the Oswego campus, offers students the opportunity to learn about community newspapers.
Students study the unique role the press plays among institutions in a democratic society and the rights and responsibilities of journalists. They study the concise, objective style of journalistic writing and the investigative methods that are central to modern newspaper and online reporting. They explore the different forces that shape the news on television and radio and the demands of writing news in broadcast style. Finally, they learn how and why graphic design plays an increasingly critical role in effectively communicating the news.
In addition to completing an internship, students may enrich their studies by pursuing a minor, second major, or concentration in an area of study other than journalism.
Public Relations is a management function that helps shape the way an organization performs. It is the management of relationships between an organization and its publics that can affect its success. Through research and evaluation, the public relations professional determines the concerns and expectations of the organization’s publics.
The public relations major gives students a strong foundation in the principles of discipline by offering courses that include print, broadcast and web-based research methods; persuasive writing; graphics; as well as public relations case studies, strategies and tactics; communication channel analysis; and ethical responsibility.
Writing, critical thinking and interpersonal skills are emphasized and internships are strongly suggested. Students in the public relations major are encouraged declare a minor or a second major.
Please note: Since the Communication Studies program has enjoyed strong student demand, admission of freshman and transfer students may be restricted.
The Department of Communication Studies cosponsors these programs: