May 25, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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The Department of Communication embraces the mission of Saint Mary’s College to instill a liberal arts, Catholic, and Lasallian character through curriculum that identifies the process of communication as a primary means by which we construct social reality, recognize and analyze social processes, and affect social change. The study of Communication is complex and interdisciplinary, incorporating rhetoric, social sciences, cultural studies, and film and media studies. Students studying communication will engage in ethical and systematic inquiry into a broad range of areas, including relational and intercultural communication, new media and digital culture, mass and alternative media, organizational communication, visual studies, ethics, and international communication. Students will also learn to express their inquiry in research, media production, and other forms of public communication such as advertising, public relations campaigns, and journalism.

The Communication curriculum is both conceptual and applied with core courses preparing students for in-depth exploration of one of two tracks centered around the kinds of communicative roles students aspire to upon graduation: Media Maker or Communication Strategist. The core courses common to both tracks highlight oral, written, and media communication competencies, as well as research design and project management skills. The Media Maker track is for students interested in examining processes of media communication, especially media production. This track balances critical, analytical, and theoretical approaches to the study of media with hands-on media production training, culminating in a media-focused Capstone project. The Media Maker track provides students with competencies in media production, especially visual design,  cinema and video, and digital media.The Communication Strategist track is for students interested in examining the processes of meaning making through communication and its impact on human psychology, emotions, and relationships in various contexts including workplace, groups and teams, and other forms of relationships. This track emphasizes the application of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis and communication theories to the production of ethical and strategic plans for effective communication in various contexts, and culminates in a data-driven research Capstone. The Communication Strategist track provides students with competencies in qualitative and quantitative data analysis.


Ellen Rigsby, PhD, Professor, Chair
Shawny Anderson, PhD, Professor
Veronica Hefner, PhDAssociate Professor
Makiko Imamura, PhD, Professor
Jason Jakaitis, MFA, Associate Professor
Samantha Joyce, Associate Professor
Aaron Sachowitz, PhD, Professor
Scott Schönfeldt-Aultman, PhD, Professor
Edward E. Tywoniak, MFA, EdD, Professor Emeritus

Learning Outcomes

By the time they graduate, students should be able to:

  • DESCRIBE the Communication discipline and its central questions
  • EMPLOY communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts
  • ENGAGE in communication inquiry
  • CREATE messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context
  • Critically ANALYZE messages
  • DEMONSTRATE the ability to accomplish communicative goals (self-efficacy)
  • APPLY ethical communication principles and practices
  • UTILIZE communication to embrace difference
  • INFLUENCE public discourse

Major Requirements

Students who major in communication take a total of 11 full credit courses and one quarter credit course. Five and a quarter of the courses are shared between the two tracks and the remaining six are specific to each track (two required and four electives).

Minor Requirements

Students who minor in communication take a total of six courses, three of which are required plus three electives. Of the three electives, one must be an upper-division application course denoted by the word “Application” after the title.

Prerequisite Grade

Any course listed in this department with a prerequisite assumes a grade of C- or better in the prerequisite course.

Minor in Cinematic Arts

The Cinematic Arts Minor combines the critical analysis and creative production of the moving image art form, ranging from time-based film and video to new media art. The courses emphasize technical fundamentals and conceptualization, creative experimentation and critical thinking, and personal expression and social responsibility. A hybrid instructional approach for several of the courses integrates critical analysis and creative production in order to encourage students to analyze as well as to produce the moving image art form as an engaged critical practice.

Students minoring in Cinematic Arts take six courses from the disciplines of Art, Communication, English, Anthropology, and World Languages and Cultures. Beyond the coursework, an internship elective (ART 193) provides a hands-on experience that can include assisting with a film exhibition, working as an assistant with a faculty filmmaker or researcher, and other options. (This program is coordinated with the Art and Art History Department and is cross-listed with their section of the course catalog).

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Minor in Cinematic Arts will be able to:

  • Plan, shoot, edit a finished film or video art project.
  • Contextualize moving image artworks within a broader cultural, historical, and political framework.
  • Utilize critical-theoretical concepts as a springboard to develop a film or video art project.
  • Write a concept statement articulating the aims, influences, and process associated with their own production work.
  • Write an extended critical essay integrating research, analysis, and interpretation of cinematic works of art.

Matriculation Pattern

Total Requirement (six courses)
Required Core (four courses)

Minor in Digital Studies

The idea for a minor in Digital Studies within the School of Liberal Arts grew out of the recognition that the dramatic change brought about by the digital revolution in areas such as communication, culture, art, commerce, and education necessitated a more formal lens of investigation of the contemporary world. Foundational to this conversation is the very question itself of the role of the liberal arts in the 21st century, including the signature hallmarks of a liberal education-critical thinking, collaborative inquiry, and the ability to effectively communicate.

The Digital Studies minor is open to all students. The program’s curriculum provides the requisite tools for critical analysis of how “the digital” frames human discourse, while simultaneously developing a technical understanding of how digital media and content are produced and delivered in order to prepare students for careers in the technology sector.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Minor in Digital Studies will be able to:

  • Ability to analyze the digital environment toward the end of becoming a digital citizen 2.
  • Ability to analyze the digital environment (technically and culturally) through shared inquiry and collaborative learning
  • Ability to understand and utilize digital media production tools (video, audio, images, graphics, interactivity) 4.
  • Ability to understand and utilize principles of digital programming (HTML5, CSS5, and Python)
  • Ability to understand and utilize project management tools and skills toward the creation of digital artifacts
  • Ability to understand and utilize critical thinking for the analysis of digital information and its application in the contemporary age
  • Ability to produce and conceptualize through assignments and activities digital bases art within a critical-theoretical framework
  • Ability to investigate through assignments and activities digital concepts within historical cultural and societal contexts
  • Ability to investigate through assignments and activities the dialogic relationships between digital culture and technology
  • Ability to investigate and analyze through assignments and activities the attributes and the effects of “big data” on culture and society, and develop skills and strategies for effective data management.

Matriculation Pattern

Total Requirement (six courses)
Required Core (four courses)

4+1 MA in Communication

The Master of Arts in Communication is an accelerated 4+1 program that offers undergraduates a second degree after only an additional intensive year. Students select two cross-listed upper division elective courses in their senior, or in some cases, junior, year. Students complete these courses at a graduate level and receive credit toward both graduate and undergraduate degrees.  During the intensive year, students complete and addition five core courses and two electives, choosing either a comprehensive exam or international externship (extra costs apply) as a culminating experience in June.

Matriculation Pattern

Total Requirement (nine courses: two in undergrad and seven in grad)
Required Core (five courses)


    Bachelor of ArtsMinorMaster of Arts (MA)


      Communication - Lower DivisionCommunication - Upper Division

      Students must have sophomore standing to enroll.

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