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

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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

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.

COM Major Kenny Ayres Wins 2013 Kalas Award

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COM majors in the news! Quad editor-in-chief Kenneth Ayres has been awarded the 2013 Kalas Award, given annually to the Philadelphia-area college student who demonstrates the greatest commitment to a career in sports broadcasting.

If you're around media at WCU, you already know Kenny. You'll find him on the air at WCUR, editing stories for the Quad, and constantly helping fellow students to sharpen their media skills. He's plenty busy off-campus as well: His internships have included stints with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and WBCB in Levittown.

As part of the award, Kenny received a $1,500 check and a plaque at a special ceremony preceding the Phillies game on Wednesday, August 21.

When you see Kenny on campus this Fall, congratulate him on the award, and when you see him on a sports broadcast down the road, tell your friends that you knew him when he was an up-and-coming COM major at WCU!

Watch Kenny receiving his award here before the start of the game in this MLB.com video...

Dr. Braz Publishes Article in Human Communication

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Dr. Braz, along with WCU co-author Dr. Chris Stangl, published an article titled Perceived Obstacles to Voting following Superstorm Sandy in Human Communication, a journal of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association. The authors surveyed students of voting age during the week between when the storm hit the area and National Election Day. Students reported perceived obstacles to voting, ranging from physical obstructions of downed power lines and road closures to attending to other higher priority events in the aftermath of the storm. The article offers a unique contribution to understanding how weather related events affect voters.

Stangl, C.A. & Braz, M.E. (2013). Perceived obstacles to voting following Superstorm Sandy, Human Communication, 16(1).

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