North Park University to Offer Three Communication Arts Majors

North Park's compass in the center of campus.
North Park University's Department of Communication Arts will offer three majors — instead of concentrations — beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.

Majors expected to help in student recruiting and future careers

CHICAGO (January 29, 2013) — Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, North Park University students can pursue undergraduate degrees in three disciplines in the Department of Communication Arts: communication studies, media studies, and theatre and performance studies. The three disciplines are currently offered to students as academic concentrations in communication arts, and will become majors this fall.

The recommended changes, approved by the University faculty, resulted from a three-year departmental process of study and discussion. The shift is expected to strengthen all three majors. Offering specific communication arts majors is expected to help potential employers understand the particular degrees and expertise offered by the University, and help future students identify the specific academic programs the department offers, members of the Communication Arts faculty said.

The department focuses its academic programs on helping students think, speak and write effectively. Currently, there are more than 100 undergraduate communication arts students who benefit from faculty and staff with academic experience, technical expertise, and multiple professional connections throughout Chicago, said Dr. Robert Hostetter, chair and professor of communication arts. "We also graduate cross-trained students, with expertise in more than one communication discipline," Hostetter added.

Dr. Chad Eric Bergman, professor of theatre, said the change will help students who are looking for a major in theatre and performance studies, and to be able to take advantage of the University's working relationships with Chicago theatre professionals. It should also make it easier for North Park students better describe their degrees on graduate-school applications, he said. The theatre and performance major prepares students to fill multiple roles in Chicago’s many small theatre spaces, and also trains them to develop performances for progressive social change, he said.

Civil engagement and social responsibility are also key components of the communication studies curriculum, said Dr. Mary Trujillo, professor of communication arts. Students focus on topics such as intercultural communication, critical reading and writing, and rhetorical theory and analysis. The curriculum focuses on service learning, experiential learning, and conflict transformation, with many internship possibilities throughout the city, she said.

Media studies develops students who are media literate and are media producers in subject areas such as journalism, screenwriting, audio production and video production, said Dr. Margaret Haefner, professor of media studies. The curriculum focuses on the intersection of media with social justice issues such as race, class and gender in the United States and globally. Many media studies students work as interns in media organizations throughout Chicago, Haefner added.

"Faculty members are excited about strengthening the connection between these majors with multicultural experience, artistic excellence, critical analysis and social responsibility," Hostetter added.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

Next Steps

Learn about the University's Communication Arts resources and scholarships in journalism, media studies and theatre.