A Message from the Department Head
The quality of our lives and the health of our society depends on how we talk, with whom, and to what effect. That we casually appraise talk as “cheap” and speech as “just words” says little about its real value and more about its hidden power.
The Pennsylvania State University Department of Communication Arts and Sciences prepares students to better grasp and harness the power of communication in the personal, professional, and public spheres. Undergraduates studying communication learn to express themselves constructively and listen respectfully. Our students come to appreciate the complexity of social interaction and the necessity of effective oratory and dialogue in community and national politics. In short, our undergraduates develop the capacities routinely ranked as most vital by civic leaders, employers, and intimate partners alike.
Our alumni have used their communication degrees to achieve distinction in diverse fields—from law and medicine to business and public service. Their generous contributions have strengthened our department and the wider university.
The Communication Arts and Sciences Department also has made direct contributions to the social sciences and humanities through its faculty and graduate student research. Ranked among the top programs nationwide, our department features the Center for Democratic Deliberation, which advances the study of public discourse and rhetoric but also features educational and outreach initiatives that promote engaged citizenship. More broadly, our scholarship has advanced the appreciation and criticism of classical and modern rhetoric.
Our department also foregrounds the study of communication in health and interpersonal contexts, with research streams investigating topics such as how people change communication patterns across the lifespan, persuade through emotional appeals, and navigate personal relationships and questions of health and illness. Once again, these efforts aim to both build knowledge and improve the quality of life in our community and across the globe, as illustrated by our faculty’s central involvement in the Drug Resistance Strategies Project.
Communication Arts and Sciences pursues these projects while simultaneously carrying out the broader educational mission of The College of Liberal Arts, which seeks to open students’ minds to the complexities of human affairs. Our department also collaborates with specific Liberal Arts units, such as the university’s acclaimed Department of English, out of which the study of rhetoric, speech, and communication grew at The Pennsylvania State University. Our faculty and students also affiliate with other colleges across campus, such as the College of Communications, the nation’s largest accredited program in journalism, telecommunications, public relations, and media studies.
In sum, it is my pleasure to welcome you to our department and its website, and, of course, I hope we get the chance to talk.
Professor and Department Head