The origins of the Department of Communication Studies date back to 1982, when Dr. Larry Williamson was brought to USD to broaden and strengthen the existing "Speech Arts" emphasis in the Department of Fine Arts. By 1984 his leadership and creative efforts resulted in the introduction of a minor which, with the help of Dr. Linda A.M. Perry, became the Communication Studies Major in 1986. Two years later, Dr. Roger Pace joined the department, and played a fundamental role in developing the curriculum of the new major.
Over the past two decades, the department has grown, consistently attracting the largest number of majors in the College while also offering general education courses in communication concepts and skills. The popularity of our program goes far beyond increasing national interest in communication. Data reveals that our students highly value both the instruction and future preparation that they receive from our faculty. Our faculty consistently receives national recognition for their teaching and research, and the news media, civic organizations, and scholars from around the world regularly seek our expertise. Many of our students have pursued graduate studies in communication, law, history, and leadership, and many others have achieved prominence in industries such as news and entertainment media.
Our primary goal is to help our students acquire the communication skills that equip them to live and work effectively, creatively, and responsibly in a variety of social contexts from interpersonal to public to mass communication. Students who complete the major will have broad knowledge of foundational theories of communication; prevailing communication research paradigms; media industry structure and practices; prevailing criticism of media practice and performance; media influence on individuals and groups; the interplay of media systems in a global context; roles and functions of communication in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts; conventions of public address and advocacy; and the impact and ethics of persuasion. Students will also have the ability to think critically; develop and present an argument; conduct and evaluate social scientific, interpretive, and critical research; communicate effectively in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts; and invent, arrange, and deliver effective and ethical messages via oral, print, and electronic modes.