Abby Grace Shrader, reporter
Ansley White, editor
The communication department at Berry College is adding a new concentration called communication and media studies.
The new concentration will be available to students starting in fall 2022. Matt Delzer, lecturer of communication and director of forensics, said that the concentration is now being reviewed in the academic council as part of the final steps.
“The communication studies track is a response to the need for students who want to go through the communication department and prep for graduate studies,” Delzer said. “Just from the forensics team, we have had a lot of students over the years who want to go into graduate studies and are highly involved in the department in lots of the extracurriculars and all that fun stuff, but they’ve worked in the tracks that haven’t necessarily always made sense to them.”
Currently in the communication department, a communication major has a choice of public relations, filmmaking, sports communication and digital storytelling for their concentration. All students will take foundation classes within the major, as well as classes specific to their concentration. The new communication and media studies concentration will help students broaden their knowledge of communication.
“We have had students that have declared filmmaking and hodgepodge some other things to set the scales that they want for graduate studies, but they have had to kind of fudge their way through, so this is a great response to that,” Delzer said. “They should now have a home that really hones those skills to get them ready for graduate school.”
According to Delzer, the concentration will offer classes in oral interpretation, argumentation and debate.
When deciding to add this concentration, the faculty in the communication department prioritized student needs. Brian Carroll, professor and department chair of the communication department, said that the decision was not made in haste.
“Our thinking was to look at our course offerings and identify those courses that were being underutilized in our concentrations as presently arranged or constructed, and to put together, using those courses, something that would be more specific to students thinking about graduate school,” Carroll said. “That then led to a discussion about communication studies.”
The new concentration will focus on the process of both negation and persuasion in communications. One of the goals of the new concentration is not only to help current communication students hone their skills, but also to bring in new students to the department.
“We think there is an untapped potential in the Berry student population for Berry students who would really like to, at least think about going to graduate school in these multiple fields,” Carroll said. “Bringing in non-com students is certainly an emphasis in our strategic thinking behind this.” Senior communications major Mary Banks Shelander is pursuing a concentration in Public Relations. She believes that the new concentration will be a great addition to the department she has been in for four years.
“I think this major has the potential to grow the department and provide more opportunities for students like me who don’t have a certain career path that aligns with the more specific concentrations that are offered now,” Shelander said. “I think this major is an excellent addition and I wish I could stay another four years to experience it.”
Delzer and Carroll are also optimistic about the addition.
“I am unbelievably excited for it,” Delzer said. “Do I think this track will be as large as the other three tracks? No, but I think it is helping round out the department and reflects what we are prioritizing.”