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Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Department Chair
Discover the Power of Communication

Welcome to the website of the Department of Communication Studies at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Whether you are a current student, a prospective student, or just looking for more information about our department, you've come to the right place. Use the drop-down menus above for quick access to our site's content. If you are a student or faculty member, login to access additional content.

Communication is an essential part of human life. It affects how we relate to each other, how we achieve success, and how we view reality. It has shaped the world we live in, and it will shape the world ahead. We invite you to discover the power of communication. Contact us today, and discover how the Department of Communication Studies at West Chester University can be a part of your future.

Department News

International Programs Available for COM Students

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Communication Studies students who are interested in international courses have an increasing number of options related to their major. For more about the international experience, check out this video featuring WCU undergrads who studied in Ireland last year. If you want to learn more about the programs, contact Dr. Lordan at elordan@wcupa.edu.

Dr. Brown Appointed to NCA Student Outcomes Workgroup

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Dr. Timothy Brown, Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, has been appointed to lead one of six faculty workgroups for the Student Outcomes Project of the National Communication Association (NCA). His appointment to this prestigious post was recently announced by NCA President Steven Beebe and NCA's Executive Director, Nancy Kidd.

The National Communication Association received a grant of over $600,000.00 from the Lumina Foundation to fund the project, the largest grant NCA has ever received to create national standards for students of communication. The project will explore bridging the Tuning process and the Degree Qualifications Profile within the discipline of communication. Tuning is a collaborative process that convenes experts in a discipline to identify and articulate the distinctive skills, methods, and substantive range of the discipline. To learn more about the project, visit http://www.natcom.org/tuningproject/.

COM Professors launch MOOC on intercultural communication

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A team of three professors in the Department of Communication Studies (Dr. Anita Foeman, Dr. Bessie Lawton and Dr. Philip A. Thompsen) recently published the department's first MOOC (Massively Open Online Course). Their free online course is entitled "A World of Difference: Exploring Intercultural Communication."

Wikipedia defines a MOOC as "an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web." MOOCs have been a growing trend in higher education, and have been offered by many different institutions, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Temple, The University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University.

The three COM professors involved in the project did most of the work developing the content for their MOOC this past summer. They received support for the project from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Distance Education. Many of the videos were recorded in the University's Digital Media Center.

"A World of Difference: Exploring Intercultural Communication" was launched on the Udemy platform in October, and over 200 students from around the world enrolled within the first month. Many of those students have already completed the course and have left positive feedback. Although students do not receive academic credit for completing the course, the Udemy system does provide them with a certificate of completion.

For more information, watch the promo video above, or visit the course page at https://www.udemy.com/intercultural.

Faculty research: Experiment shows limited influence of news coverage on perceptions of media effects

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Dr. Boyle's research on factors affecting the third-person perception was published in the most recent issue of the Atlantic Journal of Communication. The third-person perception is the persistent finding that we view others as more likely to be affected by negative influences of media (such as video games) than we see ourselves as being affected. This study considered how news story characteristics, such as depictions of who is affected and how they are affected, could have implications for individual assessments of the effects of video games on self and others. The experiment also considering the role of more stable beliefs such as maternalism, paternalism, and assessments of media vulnerability. Results indicate that more permanent factors superseded the effects of the news story manipulations. Ultimately, the data show limited influence of media coverage on effects perceptions and suggest that such person perceptions are driven more by long-standing beliefs. This indicates that perceptions of media effects - particularly whether you think others are more affected by media than you are - are driven more by deeply-held beliefs than news stories that could potentially support or contradict your beliefs. The research was co-authored by Mike Schmierbach from Penn State University and Douglas M. McLeod from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Boyle, M.P., Schmierbach, M., & McLeod, D.M. (2013). Pre-existing factors or media effect?: Understanding the third-person perception. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 21:230–246.

COM Professor Receives EPA Grant

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The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Dr. Denise Polk a grant for $14,685 for a food compost pilot initiative. This pilot program partners West Chester Borough Public Works, Borough Leaders United for Emissions Reduction (BLUER), Roots Café, Landmark Americana of West Chester, Thornbury Farm, the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID), and Chester County Solid Waste Authority. It involves a local effort to collect and haul food waste from the two restaurants in order to track the benefits. The goal is to set groundwork to move toward a long-term sustainable Borough-wide food waste composting program. The pilot will take place in 2014.

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