What is Communication Studies?

The term Communication Studies (sometimes Writing and Communication Studies or Communication and Media Studies) refers to an academic discipline that takes as its focus the ways messages are constructed, shared, and interpreted across contexts and media. The professional organization for the discipline, the National Communication Association defines it as the study of “how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The discipline promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication.”

Generally accepted to have developed from the study of classical rhetoric, contemporary Communication Studies includes components of rhetoric, speech, linguistics, semiotics, hermeneutics, and cultural studies including propaganda, ideology, and aspects of identity theory and intersectionality. Students of Communication Studies generally also take courses in applied communications including journalism, news media, and documentary film; mass communication; political communication and speech writing; advertising and marketing; public relations; publishing and editing; interpersonal, intercultural and non-verbal communication; computer-mediated communication; visual communication and photography; new media; and film, television, and radio among others depending on the program. Established and evolving sub-fields of communications including business and workplace communication, financial communication, crisis communication, social media, visual media, licensing, grant writing, and advocacy, are central to many parts of the communications and media industry and are supported by related research and analysis.

While Communication Studies is often considered an independent discipline, the list above reveals how deeply it draws from other academic disciplines including anthropology, biology, economics, English, Linguistics, sociology, philosophy, political science, psychology, and writing studies.


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