Communication science touches nearly every moment of our lives, from the health information on our cereal box to the “Was this review helpful to you?” query that pops up when we indulge in a bit of late- night shopping on Amazon.
Now the research, scholarship and practical applications of that science will be at the hub of a new School of Communication, which launches this fall at Chapman University. Professor Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., was appointed inaugural dean by President Jim Doti after a unanimous faculty vote.
The school positions Chapman as a leader in communication research and a home for career-focused training for students entering a variety of fields where the management, sharing and understanding of information is key.
“The discipline of communication science is strongly focused on students,” Sparks says. “We give them skills in oral and written communication, quantitative reasoning and cultural competence. These are the things the U.S. Department of Labor consistently says students need in the workplace.”
The new school will initially offer three academic programs – Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Bachelor of Arts
in Strategic and Corporate Communication, and Master of Science in Health and Strategic Communication. All were previously in the Department of Communication Studies in Chapman’s Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Communication Studies is the second most popular major at Chapman, behind business administration.
Graduates of the programs typically enter fields related to commerce, strategic communication, public opinion, health behavior, campaigns, marketing, public relations and advertising.
As a separate school, the new School of Communication can put more energy into the applied research conducted by faculty, whose expertise range from health communication between patients and providers to issues of trust in online messaging. Such research is critical in a knowledge-based economy increasingly driven by Internet communications and interactions, says Sparks, whose published work spans more than 100 research articles and scholarly book chapters. She is the author or editor of more than 10 books on communication, health and aging.
“We’re about evidence-based scholarship that solves a set of problems and provides solutions for companies and organizations,” she says.
Toward that goal, several new faculty members will join the University this fall.
“We’re about evidence-based scholarship that solves a set of problems,” says Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., inaugural dean of the new School of Communication.
Eventually the school will build more graduate programs as well, she says.
Sparks also looks forward to productive partnerships between the new school and other academic units at Chapman, including Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Wilkinson College, Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, the School of Pharmacy, the College of Educational Studies and Argyros School of Business and Economics.
“The study of communication is applicable to many, many fields, from public relations and advertising (housed in Dodge College) to health and medical professions (Crean College and School of Pharmacy) to education and business,” Sparks says.