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Major & Minor Information

A Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication may be obtained from Hope College by completing 42* hours according to the following coursework specifications. Click here for Major Requirement Checklist to print (requires Adobe Acrobat).

100 level: 14 credits, all required

  • COMM 101 - Introduction to the Communication Process (4 credits)
  • COMM 140 - Public Presentations (4 credits)
  • COMM 151 - Introduction to Mass Media (2 credits)
  • COMM 160 - Analytic Skills in Communication (4 credits)
200 level: 12 credits with Comm 260 and Comm 280 required
  • COMM 210 - Interpersonal Communication (4 credits)
  • COMM 220 - Task Group Leadership (4 credits)
  • COMM 231 - Communication and Conflict (4 credits)
  • COMM 251 - Media Production l (4 credits)
  • COMM 255 - Print Media 1 (4 credits)
  • COMM 257 - Communication for Public Relations (2 credits)**
  • COMM 260 - Rhetoric and Public Culture (4 credits)
  • COMM 280 - Research Methods (4 credits) department policy on exemption for double majors
  • COMM 290 - Independent Media Project (1-2 credits)** Application (pdf)
  • COMM 295 - Topics in Media Production (1-4 credits)

**Does not fulfill major/minor requirement.

300 level: 12 credits* with Comm 399 or Study Abroad required

  • COMM 320 - Family Communication (4 credits)
  • COMM 330 - Organizational Communication (4 credits)
  • COMM 335 - Leadership Skills & Perspectives (4 credits)
  • COMM 352 - Media Production ll (4 credits)
  • COMM 356 - Print Media ll (4 credits)
  • COMM 357 - The Documentary (4 credits)
  • COMM 360 - The Art and Science of Persuasion (4 credits)
  • COMM 371 - Communicating Across Differences (4 credits)
  • COMM 390 - Independent Study (1-4 credits) Application (pdf)
  • COMM 395 - Topics in Communication (4 credits)
  • COMM 395 - Honors Course (4 credits)
  • COMM 399 - Communication Internship (4 Credits)* Application (pdf)

400 level: 4 credits

  • COMM 451 - Mass Media Theory (4 credits)
  • COMM 460 - Communication Theory (4 credits)
  • COMM 463 - Rhetorical Theory (4 credits)
  • COMM 470 - Cultural Communication Theory (4 credits)

*Required for students entering fall 2009 and thereafter.

Communication Minor --The communication minor consists of six regularly offered courses in communication for a total of at least 22 credits.

The following 100-level courses are required:

  • COMM 101-The Communication Process OR COMM 160-Analytic Skills (4 credits)
  • COMM 140-Public Presentations (4 credits)
  • COMM 151-Intro to Mass Communication (2 credits)

Three additional courses are required at the 200, 300, or 400 level, with no more than two courses at any one level. Substitutions, waivers, and internships are not allowed in the communication minor.

[Course Descriptions]

The following is a list of the courses offered through the Department of Communication at Hope College. Each course description is followed by the number of credit hours awarded for completion of the course, the faculty who lead the course, and the semesters during which the course is normally offered.

101. The Communication Process - This course focuses on communication competence. Readings and exercises explore and develop relational communication skills and media literacy. This course also addresses how filters of self, relationships, culture, gender, race, and ethnicity affect communication processes. Four Credits - Anderson, DeVries, Housel, Johnston, Lee, Spielvogel - Each Semester

140. Public Presentations - This course introduces students to the theory and practice of public speaking. Topics covered include audience analysis, methods of organizing a speech, the types and uses of supporting material, and the effective use of visual aids. Students will learn how to write and deliver effective informative, persuasive, and ceremonial speeches. Four Credits - DeWitt-Brinks, Pocock - Each Semester

151. Introduction to Mass Communication - This course explores the impact of media in society. The format and function of different types of contemporary media will be introduced. Two Credits - Nathan - Each Semester

160. Analytic Skills in Communication - This course seeks to develop the analytic skills involved in effective reasoning and communication. In developing these skills, the course introduces students to various types of arguments, the tests to which each is susceptible and the characteristics of a reasonable argument: validity, evidence, and linguistic consistency. Analysis of sample arguments is stressed throughout. The course also considers the ethics of advocacy, and the qualities of a reasonable person. Four Credits - Herrick, Kim - Each Semester

210. Interpersonal Communication - Interpersonal communication is the study of dyadic interaction and the creation of meaningful relationships. This course is built on five communicative competencies: interpretive, self, role, relational, & goal. We will explore the concepts and theories surrounding these competencies, how they are interconnected, and how they influence the particular ways in which we communicate in intimate, familial, professional/impersonal, and cross-cultural contexts. Four Credits - DeVries, Johnston - Fall Semester

220. Task Group Leadership - This course focuses on understanding and developing communication competence in small groups. This involves learning how to function effectively as part of a team, as well as exercising appropriate leadership. Topics include group development, competitive vs. cooperative climates, decision-making and problem-solving, power resources, and conflict management. Four Credits - Anderson - Fall Semester

231. Communication and Conflict - This course addresses the theory and practice of conflict resolution from a communication perspective. In the first half of the course, students examine symbolic patterns of destructive conflict behavior, including the role and function of words and images in constructing enemies and dehumanizing others. Role-play, discussion, and lecture are utilized in the second half of the course to introduce students to the theory, practice, and vocation of mediation, a facilitative, non-adversarial conflict resolution process. Students learn how to use communication to maintain mediator neutrality, frame issues, generate problem-solving options, and write agreements. Four Credits - Spielvogel - Spring Semester

251. Media Production l - This course offers an entry-level learning experience introducing students to digital media production from theoretical, aesthetic, and practical perspectives. The course aims to familiarize students with the basic tools and processes of digital media production so that they can communicate their ideas creatively and effectively using various forms of media. The course is divided into seminar and workshop components. In the seminars, students will discover different theoretical approaches to media representation that inform the practice of digital media production. In the workshops, students will gain the technical skills and knowledge required for digital media production, including the use of camera, sound, voice recording, lighting, editing, graphics, and transitions. All students will undertake a series of exercises which demonstrate their understanding, skills, and creativity, and they will present and discuss their own productions. Four Credits - Han - Each Semester

255. Reporting, Writing, and Visual Design for the Mass Media
This course introduces students to writing, reporting, and editing for newspapers, magazines, broadcast, and online media. Students produce news and features articles suitable for magazines, newspapers, and online media. Students learn how to effectively combine visual elements (photographs and graphics) with the written word to present information through lay-out (using Adobe InDesign). In addition, students write a broadcast script and match voice-over to footage. The versatile skills that students gain from this course are necessary for any media, public relations, or advertising career.
Four Credits - Housel - Fall Semester

257. Communication for Public Relations [does not fulfill major /minor requirement]- This course provides an introduction to basic communication practices among a variety of organizations in both the public and private sectors. In addition to the study of public relations theories, students will simulate public relations and management situations using practical experiences and case studies. Two Credits - Pocock - Spring Semester

260. Rhetoric and Public Culture - This course explores the rhetorical strategies, argumentative approaches, and definitional techniques embedded in the texts of popular culture. Contrasting current theories of rhetorical analysis and cultural studies with those of the classical period, the course aims to familiarize students with the rhetorical elements in the symbolic world we inhabit and to sharpen their critical skills as consumers of persuasive messages. The course will also introduce students to some of the basic qualitative research approaches commonly employed in the field of communication studies, including Burkean analysis, culture-centered criticism, and narrative criticism. Four Credits - Herrick, Kim, Spielvogel - Each Semester

280. Research Methods - This course is an introduction to the social science research process used to study human communication. It provides students with the skills to read, understand, and perform basic communication research. Such skills include conducting a review of literature and addressing the implications and ethical considerations of research. Prerequisite: Math 210-Stats or AP Stats. Four Credits - DeVries, Johnston, Lee - Each Semester

290. Independent Media Project [does not fulfill major/minor requirement] - This course provides an opportunity for Communication majors to develop media skills by producing a media project under the supervision of a faculty member. Credit for this course is elective and may not be applied to fulfill the requirements of the major. Students are expected to maintain approximately 4 hours of project work per week for each credit granted. Prerequisites: COMM 255 and 356 or COMM 251 and 352, Junior standing, submission of departmental Independent Media Project Application, approval of instructor, and final approval of media project proposal by department. One to Two Credits - Each Semester

295. Topics in Media Production - This is a tecnical course focusing on developing skills in media or new media production. One to Four Credits - Each Semester.

320. Family Communication - We create families through communication: by sharing meanings with others, socializing children, making decisions, handling conflict, and developing family rituals. This course focuses on the various communication processes that shape families, blending academic and personal perspectives. Four Credits - Anderson - Spring Semester

330. Organizational Communication - This course introduces students to the basic concepts of how communication processes work in organizations. The first section of the course focuses on theories of organizations, including classical theory, humanistic theories, systems theory, cultural theories, and critical theories. The second section focuses on the challenges and misunderstandings that face organizations, such as recruitment and socialization of members, conflict management, and superior-subordinate communication. Four Credits - Anderson - Spring Semester

335. Leadership Skills & Perspectives - This course examines the complex and rich process of leadership in two main ways: 1) by studying the main theories of leadership, including traits, skills, styles, situational and transformational leadership, as well as leadership ethics; and 2) by teaching the essential competencies leaders need to be effective, through personal assessment and group projects. This course helps students develop leadership skills, practice critical thinking, engage the local community, and integrate their faith with their understanding of leadership. Prerequisites: Junior standing or permission of instructor. Four Credits - Anderson - Fall Semester

352. Media Production II: Media Literacy - This course introduces students to the field of media literacy and examines critical issues in media education that include, but are not limited to, sex and violence in the media, media ownership concentration, media stereotyping, and the impact of advertising on adolescent attitudes and behavior. The course helps students to become familiar with issues in media literacy and equips them with advanced video techniques for broadcast-quality production. Students should expect to spend at least three hours per week of self-directed production/ practice/ research time in addition to the designated class meetings. For the final project, each student will produce a digital video project with a Web presentation that can be distributed widely for media education in high schools and universities. Prerequisite: Media Production I or permission of instructor. Four Credits - Han - Spring Semester

356. Advanced Magazine Features Writing and Production - This course focuses on techniques for advanced magazine features writing, design, and production. This course examines the complex and creative process of communicating ideas through writing and visuals. Over the semester, students create an online campus magazine. Students create a magazine mission statement; design a logotype; analyze circulation markets; and demonstrate the magazine by writing, designing, and producing an issue by the end of the semester. Prerequisite: COMM 255 . Four Credits - Housel - Spring Semester

357. Media Production - Social Documentary - This course introduces students to documentary film and video from both theoretical and practical perspectives. By combining theoretical/analytical work with a series of production exercises, the course encourages students to develop a critical understanding of creative, theoretical, and practical dimensions involved in documentary representations. In the first part of the semester, students will learn different approaches to the documentary, including ethnographic documentary, activist documentary, and the politics of representation. Discussion will focus on such issues as insider accounts, processes of othering, reflexivity, realism, the ethics of consent, the politics of editing, and the role of the intended and non-intended audiences in documentary production. The course will cover simultaneously the technical and practical aspects of documentary production that enable students to produce their own projects. Each student will work either individually or as a member of a group to produce a broadcast-quality documentary. Prerequisites: Media Production I and II or permission of instructor. Four Credits - Han - Fall Semester

360. The Art and Science of Persuasion - This course provides a comprehensive view of persuasion by analyzing how persuasion operates at both an interpersonal and a social level. The analysis of persuasive contexts includes discussions of popular culture, news media, advertising, cults, social movements, politics, law, families and interpersonal relationships. The study of persuasion will be applied to personal communication skills such as the production of ethical persuasive messages and critical media literacy skills. Four Credits - Johnston - Spring Semester, Odd Years

371. Communicating Across Differences: Intercultural and Gender Communication - This course addresses the social construction of inequality, specifically focusing on how communication processes are the means by which gender, race, class, nationality, culture and ethnicity are created, and are also the means by which individuals can resist personal participation in perpetuating systems of inequality. Through encountering multicultural experiences, interviewing people in different social positions, and engaging in exercises and simulations, we will learn to broaden our self-identities, and our understanding of others by learning about the experiences, feelings and views of people in social situations different from our own. NOTE: This course is cross-listed with Women's Studies. Four Credits - Johnston - Spring Semester, Even Years

390. Independent Study - An independent study is a program providing advanced students in Communication an opportunity to conduct research in a communication area of unique interest. Prerequisites: Junior standing, submission of departmental Independent Study Application, approval of instructor, and final approval of research proposal by department. One to Four Credits - Each Semester

395. Topics in Communication - A seminar in a special topic of the discipline offered for majors in the department and other interested/qualified students. The course will focus on a particular aspect of the discipline and reflect theory, research and application to the extent expected for the course level and credits assigned. Topics occasionally offered include: Film Criticism, Black Images in Film, Political Communication, Communication & Race, and Advanced Research or Honors Seminar. Two to Four Credits - Occasionally

399. Communication Internship - Students secure an internship with an organization, agency, or communication media industry to observe, assist, and assume regular duties, or engage in special projects under the supervision of skilled professionals. Students are expected to maintain approximately 3 hours of placement per week for each credit granted. Prerequisites: Communication major, junior standing, completion of Internship Workshop, submission of departmental Internship Application, and final approval of internship placement by department. One to Four Credits - Each Semester

451. Media Theory - Critical Perspectives - We live in a media-saturated culture where not only do we spend a great deal of time consuming media, but we also frequently have conversations about the media. We condemn the media for creating a standard of beauty that few can ever live up to. But, we often glorify the media for revolutionizing our access to a variety of information. Indeed, anyone can talk about the media without knowing anything about media theories. Our goal, however, is to enable us to engage in an "informed" discussion of various aspects about the media instead of reiterating common-sense knowledge about them. The educational aim of the course is to provide students with theoretical tools and frameworks required for critically evaluating various issues associated with the media. The course covers a wide range of schools of thought and theories, including cultivation analysis, political economy of communication, cultural imperialism, and reception theory. Throughout the semester, students will conduct a series of short research projects to apply theoretical knowledge to their actual understanding of the contemporary media. Prerequisites: COMM 101, 151, 260, and 280. Four Credits- Kim, Spielvogel - Fall Semester

460. Communication Theory - This seminar considers interpretive and social science theories of communication. Themes carried throughout the course include the nature of language, the construction of meaning, and the impact of social and cultural processes on communication. Prerequisites: COMM 101, 160, 260, and 280. Four Credits - Johnston - Fall Semester

470. Cultural Communication Theory - Drawing on the theories in our readings, this class looks at how culture is constructed and reproduced through (1) larger economic, political, and ideological structures [the nation, identity, gender, social class, language, race, and ethnicity] that influence, and (2) people's everyday signifying practices that include (among many others) shopping, food, fashion, and use of mediated texts such as television, films, magazines, the Internet, and music. Class readings and assignments focus on the link between larger structures and everyday signifying practices that, together, make up "culture." For example, cultural theory allows us to understand how the popularity of Martha Stewart, Target, and Starbucks coffee reflects larger discourses about social class, consumption, and the new “upscale casual luxury” market. As we look at product placement in movies, representations of working-class people in sitcoms, and mainstreaming of the organic foods market, we can begin to pinpoint how power, class, and consumption impact people’s everyday lives. Prerequisites: Communication 101, 160, 260, and 280. Four Credits - Housel - Spring Semester

495. Rhetorical Theory - This course surveys the history of rhetoric, the oldest of several disciplines making up the field of communication. Public persuasive discourse has exerted an unparalleled influence on the western world’s direction and development. Philosophers, politicians, lawyers, theologians, poets—all have tried to determine what takes place when one person sets out to persuade another by the use of symbols, and in particular, by means of rational, aesthetic and emotional appeals. The tradition of their thought on the subject makes up the discipline known as "rhetoric," a discipline dating back more than twenty-five hundred years, and a topic of study currently undergoing an important renaissance. Prerequisites: Communication 101, 160, 260, and 280. Four Credits - Herrick - Spring Semester