Communication Studies

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Box 7153
Davidson, NC 28035

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209 Ridge Road
Davidson, NC 28035


Communication Studies

A presidential debate; a conversation between friends; an episode of CSI; an American negotiating Paris, or Madrid, or Dubai—all represent examples of the process of communication in which people create messages through which they seek to share meaning.

As a Communication Studies student at Davidson, you'll explore the basic concepts of communication in a variety of contexts, whether individuals talking one on one or organizations creating messages for millions. From the classical wisdom of the ancient Greeks to the cutting-edge insights of contemporary scholars, you'll examine the elements of the communication process, the options in assessing them, the significance of selections among those alternatives, and the ample opportunities for misunderstanding and disagreement as well as rapport and accord.

Communication Studies focuses on three areas:

  • Interpersonal communication: including communication in relationships, in small groups, and in organizations, as well as intercultural communication;
  • Public communication: including rhetorical analysis and such intentional efforts to influence audiences as persuasion, social movements, and political communication; and
  • Mass communication: including the history of mass media, the critical analysis of media, and how media shape the communication process.

Communication Studies examines the process by which people create meanings through messages. It is through communication that we establish, change, and maintain societies, as well as our own roles within them.

The central concern of Communication Studies is how the communicative process generates meaning, both intentionally and unintentionally. Communication creates culture and culture creates communication, in a mutually productive process. For communication studies, because the very act of communication is generative, not incidental, it is a fundamental way of thinking and an essential way of knowing and encountering the world, not something that is simply added on afterwards.

Communication Studies has ancient roots in the liberal arts. Aristotle's definition of rhetoric as "the faculty of observing the available means of persuasion" and the classical rhetorical canons have provided means of thinking critically about communication for centuries. Rhetoric, grammar, and logic constituted the trivium, which together with the quadrivium formed the seven liberal arts during the Middle Ages.

Building on these classical traditions are explorations of how people create meaning symbolically in a range of contexts, from how communication creates stages in the development of relationships to how humans construct understandings through the creation of narratives to how the historical development of new media has shaped ways of understanding the world.