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New School of Communication Initiatives in Undergraduate Education for 2010-11

Town hall meetings planned

Dean Barbara O’Keefe will be hosting two town hall meetings this fall to give students the opportunity to discuss these ideas. Mark your calendar for a great discussion on the future of the School of Communication.

Friday, Nov. 5
12:00 p.m.
Helmerich Auditorium, Annie May Swift Hall
– or –
Monday, Nov. 8
5 p.m.
Frances Searle  1-421

September 2010

In Fall 2009 the School of Communication Undergraduate Office started a dialogue with its undergraduate majors about the strengths and weaknesses of the undergraduate experience in SoC. A discussion in the Dean’s Advisory Council prompted us to conduct a series of focus groups in which undergraduate majors from across the school responded to a series of questions. The information gained from the focus groups helped us design a survey that was given to all current majors and a sample of recent graduates. Between March and July we studied all this information and designed new initiatives for the 2010-11 academic year.

For us, the good news was that students are very appreciative of the faculty, the co-curricular activities, and the great courses offered by SoC. But at the same time, students said their experience in SoC could be better. Here are the major issues we identified and the steps we are taking to address them.

Students and alumni said:Here is what we are doing now:Here is our long term goal:
“Strengthen the sense of community across the School of Communication.”Starting this fall, we will welcome the entire school back with a school-wide “beach party,” and invite every senior to a social event with the dean.Continue to build interdepartmental programs and activities and make them broadly available.
“We need a freshman experience for School of Communication.”We added a set of SoC classes that will be reserved for freshmen. These include special topic seminars, sections of RTF 190, and a new movement class in Theatre.A faculty committee is working to design a first year experience for all SoC freshmen.
“Transferring to SoC from another NU school can be confusing and difficult.”SoC advisers are now better prepared to handle interschool transfers and will be more proactive in advising them.Continue improving SoC advising, especially for transfer students.
“We want more access to classes and fewer barriers between SoC departments.”This year we will provide more sections of RTF 190 and 260 and make the new spaces available to non-majors. Freshmen entering as Performance Studies majors will be guaranteed access to acting classes.Continue expanding dramatic writing and the short film collaborations project.
Develop courses (like acting or directing for the screen) that span RTF and Theatre.
“We would all like to have the kind of intense, cohort experience that is given to students in the acting program.”We have asked departments to increase opportunities for out-of-class activities like theater productions, media making, and civic engagement. A new program gives student groups access to Theatre and Interpretation Center space.All five departments are creating new “modules” for the curriculum that will allow students to study a topic together in depth and develop their skills as artists and communicators. Some will be available as early as 2011.
“We need better advice about classes to take outside of SoC.”Advisers are compiling lists of recommended distros and electives.Each module will be accompanied by a list of recommended courses outside SoC.
“We need to know more about the creative economy and business.”A new EPICS program, Leadership Journeys, will offer opportunities to travel to organizations in Chicago and learn about their work and their leaders.We plan to hire more faculty who specialize in studies of the creative industries and develop more courses on our industries, business, and leadership.
“We need to be better prepared for graduate study.”Another EPICS initiative will give students more information about opportunities for graduate study, and the SoC Research Office is stepping up communication about research opportunities.We are working with faculty to identify new opportunities for students to get involved in research and to publicize those opportunities.
“We need more opportunities for internships.”The EPICS office is building an improved website where students can more easily find information about internships in their fields of study.We are continuing to work with alumni and friends to identify outstanding internship opportunities and make them available to our students.
“We need more mentoring and help with professional development.”The EPICS office is working with advisers to build more professional development support into academic advising.New curriculum modules will provide opportunities to develop knowledge of career pathways, marketable skills, and professional connections.