Written by Anna Morton ’13
The Gustavus Adolphus College Communication Studies Department has been notified that it will receive the 2012 Rex Mix Program of Excellence Award from the National Communication Association (NCA), at the organization’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 15-18. This award commends the innovation and dedication of undergraduate Communications Studies programs.
The NCA is the largest national organization in the communication studies field with more than 8,000 members from 50 states and 21 countries. Each year, the Program of Excellence Award highlights one department that has demonstrated superior innovative, intellectual, and practical programs. Communication studies faculty from across the country choose the recipient of this award based on “opportunities for student engagement and enrichment.”
“As a department, we have been intentionally working on curriculum revision over the past decade. This includes solidifying our core requirements and departmental strategic plan,” said Professor Leila Brammer. “Our goal is to improve student learning and to develop one of the best undergraduate liberal arts programs in the country. This award recognizes our past work and invites future innovation.”
The department established a national reputation through the creation of its Public Discourse class in 2007. The course requires students to identify an issue in the community, research it fully, and work directly with their communities to address the issue. Public Discourse is a national model of transformational civic education that has been adopted and adapted by faculty across the country. The course has had a lasting influence on Gustavus students.
“Students discover the power of their voices to make a difference and develop the capacity to be civic leaders,” Assistant Professor in Communication Studies Pamela Conners said.
“When we implemented Public Discourse, we knew the evolution would spread to the rest of our curriculum,” Associate Professor of Communication Studies Martin Lang ’95 said. “An important element of departmental excellence is our cutting-edge innovation in the areas of community advocacy and public discourse.”
A critical strength of the Communication Studies Department is that the curriculum is designed to better each student’s education through comprehensive and enriching courses and core requirements. Department faculty underscore the importance of integrating departmental emphases, including ethics, power, community, and civic engagement, into each course.
Sarah Wolter ‘02, who helped develop Public Discourse, explained, “As both a student and now a professor in the department, I have witnessed the curricular evolution and am honored to have been a part of the department’s more purposeful integration of civic engagement into its curriculum.”
The Program of Excellence Award demonstrates and acknowledges the high quality of faculty and student work taking place within the department.
“This is a great honor, but it’s the academic, personal, and civic growth of Gustavus students that inspires us to continue to excel,” Brammer said.
For more information about the Gustavus Communication Studies Department, go online to gustavus.edu/communication.
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