The field of communication was added to the menu of higher education in the early part of the twentieth century. One hundred years later, it is thriving at colleges and universities throughout the United States and gaining a foothold abroad as well. This essay recounts its growth, surveys its campus manifestations, and explores the challenges it now confronts. In a world of ever-advancing technologies, of evolving forms of online interaction, and of massive amounts of misinformation and disinformation, no citizen can ignore the changing media environment. While the communication discipline can take pride in its growth, it must also heed the demands of the Old Humanities: to sort fact from fiction, to identify cultural traditions worth honoring, to question how power is arranged and whom it serves, and to help students formulate messages for a diverse and changing world. The field of communication has many challenges before it and that is a glorious thing.
This essay began just as one of the most tumultuous moments in American history was waning. As of June 2022, covid-19 has killed more than one million Americans; more will be lost before the disease is completely vanquished. Fortunately, scores of brilliant researchers across the globe brought a variety of vaccines to market quickly. Marvelously intricate machines located at companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca produced precious vials of medicine in record time, after which the federal government's Warp Speed Program delivered them to 42,000 zip codes across the United States. Science. Business. Engineering. Government. What more needs to be said?
Getting shots in the arms of 320 million people. Would the pharmaceutical companies share everything they know with one another? Would the workers running the production lines keep their superiors informed of each day's churn? Would the government remain open to inquiries from the press while the vaccine was being delivered? Would the Trump administration tell the Biden administration everything it knew? And what of the people? How many would sign up for the first shot, and who would remind them to get a second? Would the web's grand conspiracies-that vaccines will rot your brain, that vaccines are a Chinese plot-keep people away from the vaccinators? In a nation where 430 different languages are spoken each day, would medical advisories be translated clearly and distributed broadly? And who would buoy up the people's spirits while all of this was going on?
covid-19 reminds us yet again that communication is a delicate thing, brilliant when it works, devastating when it does not. Speaking of devastation, during his last days in office, President Donald Trump stood on a platform, as despots had before him, and harangued twenty thousand people mightily, telling them every lie under the sun. The Trumpers responded immediately, filming themselves while storming the nation's shrine to democracy. Five people died, hundreds went to jail, and the nation was torn apart. Donald Trump did this work with a primitive tool-with his voice.
Then the questions began. Had the United States Capitol Police failed to read their Twitter feeds? Trump's Twitter feed? Indeed, had they not read a daily newspaper during the last four years, outlets that had told the “Stop the Steal” story relentlessly? Had they not heard the shrieking in flyover country after Trump lost the presidency? Had they missed the right wing's coordinated messaging? Did they not notice Fox and Newsmax constantly stoking the postelectoral fires? The United States Capitol Police performed heroically but they also failed to listen.
covid and the Capitol. Events like these raise a thousand questions and many of them feature human communication. Science can produce vaccines by the truckload, but unless people are persuaded to take them, they are for naught. A U.S. president may have the nuclear football at the ready, but if only public adulation can make him feel truly powerful, dangerous things will happen. These are my biases and I come by them honestly, having studied political rhetoric throughout my career and having served for eleven years as dean of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. As a result, wherever I look I find people failing to listen. Wherever I look I find people saying unfortunate things. Communication is an open door except when it closes.
And how do the humanities relate to the study of communication? I cannot answer that question without reflecting on my own story. Having entered college in 1962, I have witnessed the remarkable growth of communication studies in the academy. In the latest compilation of degrees conferred by American colleges and universities, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 110,981 bachelor's degrees were granted in communication and journalism in 2017–2018, versus 52,625 in English language and literature, 23,953 in foreign languages and linguistics, 29,552 in history, and 13,097 in philosophy and religious studies.1 Is the growth of communication studies a good thing? covid and the Capitol suggest that it is. Unless we understand the rhetorical crosswinds associated with such events, we will be poorly equipped to live a modern life. Communication and the humanities need one another. That is the story I tell here.
I blame Shakespeare for the evil that befell me. As a sophomore English major in 1964, I should have been focusing on aesthetic matters (especially on the objective correlative) and I certainly should not have been thinking about how King Lear reminded me of Lyndon Johnson. But I noticed the resemblance: how Lear wanted to be worshipped by his daughters even as he tried to orchestrate their emotions. I wondered if Johnson might not have a Lear Complex, the need to control without seeming to control, the need to be admired without opening himself up to critique. This was, to be sure, a sophomoric thought. Worse, I ventured that thought in class. I recall the professor's look to this day. It lay somewhere between contempt and disgust. How could I, his look queried, profane Shakespeare's world, a place where one's feelings were meant to be recollected in tranquility, where one was expected to just sigh knowingly?
That look - that look - is still emblazoned on my brain. My contribution in class on that fated day may well have been fatuous, and I probably should have been thinking deeper thoughts about the Bard. In my defense, though, students on my campus were beginning to register their opposition to the war in Vietnam, so it seemed to me that Shakespeare might have something to say about the leader of the free world in a time of turmoil. Alas, it turned out there was no room for politics in the English department. So I declared a second major. The communication department, I was to learn, would let me study rhetoric, language at full-stretch. But what did that mean for graduate study? English at Columbia or rhetoric at Penn State? I made a decision. Then life happened.
Higher education has always been a scandal, constantly adding new subjects to its portfolio, domesticating them, and then turning them into a new orthodoxy. Imagine the contretemps, for example, when in 1876, a group of Harvard radicals proposed creating a department of English literature, not a unit that would focus on proper authors like Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, but one that would study popularists like Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, and my friend William Shakespeare, writers who played to the crowd, who engaged the base emotions, who made people laugh.2 Imagine, too, the campus row at Princeton when, in the early 1900s, a department of philosophy was proposed, not a unit for steeping young Princetonians in Calvinist doctrine, but one that would expose them to Kant, Hegel, and other upstart Germans.3
Things got worse. Suddenly, departments of classics had rivals on campus. No longer were Greek and Latin sufficient, some declared, but students needed to communicate with their contemporaries in other countries as well. In 1803, West Point hired a professor of French studies, and soon departments of modern language began sprouting up in the Ivies and near-Ivies.4 Simultaneously, although Yale had housed a department of history since the 1760s, history suddenly became shorter, with some faculty proposing to bypass the Renaissance and explore the American adventure itself. Would nothing stop such heresies? Could the professoriate not be disciplined?
It could not, but it could create disciplines. In 1914, a brave band of English professors got the field of communication started when James Winans of Cornell, Charles Woolbert of Illinois, James O'Neil of Wisconsin, and fourteen others abandoned the National Council of Teachers of English to form their own association, one that would place a primacy on practical speech, an association that would, in the argot of the times, help people become more useful when they spoke.5 Soon, new technologies advanced the discipline further: radio brought argumentation to life; television brought literature to life; film brought history to life. These new technologies changed not only what people said but how they would be heard. Overnight, it seemed, students arrived on campus wanting to use what they were learning even as they learned it. These students of communication were an impatient lot, making them seem shallow to philosophers, impetuous to historians, and prosaic to litterateurs. Still, they came.
A recent Humanities Indicators report of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released data about humanities departments in 2007 and compared them with similar facts gathered ten years later.6 Total enrollment for communication undergraduates in the United States was 686,330 in the fall of 2017, with an average of 897.2 students per department. Total graduate enrollment was 65,690 (85.9 per department), with full- and part-time faculty numbering 11,710 (25.5 per department). In part because these departments offered so many communication skills courses, they had more than their share of part-time faculty members.
The report contains both good and bad news for the humanities in general, but the indicators for communication studies are forward-leaning: more and more departments at more and more universities, more students over time at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. History, English, and modern language departments had the most faculty, with communication ranking fourth, outnumbering the thirteen other disciplines sampled (linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, American studies, and so on). Communication departments had an average number of female instructors, but their faculty members were granted tenure more often than most departments.
Enrollment-wise, communication departments had the fourth-highest number of students of the seventeen disciplines assessed and ranked first in degrees granted during the 2017–2018 academic year. Communication students ranked second among those completing a minor (often, I suspect, in schools of business) but they were less likely than most to have a “benchmarking” requirement for graduation. That is, instead of doing a thesis, communication students were especially likely to have one or more internships. Communication students reported liking their career services operations more than most students did, and their departments ranked first among those offering externships. Communication departments ranked better than most in tracking their students’ career outcomes.
Also not surprising, given the recency of new media, 41 percent of communication departments offered fully online or hybrid courses (highest among the disciplines studied), although communication students were not heavily involved in what has come to be known as the “digital humanities.” At the graduate level, communication departments ranked third (of seventeen fields) in student enrollments and their graduate students were more likely to be instructors of record (in skills-level courses) than to provide grading or classroom support for advanced undergraduate courses. While communication students often helped with campus recruitment efforts to attract community college students, they were not especially active in other forms of community service.
As one of the newer disciplines, communication's architecture differs from campus to campus: different academic structures, different faculty compositions, different scholarly specializations. At the risk of over-generalization, the field is now made up of four broad clusters that respond to quite different scholarly consortia: 1) communication and rhetorical studies (the National Communication Association and the Rhetoric Society of America); 2) journalism and mass communication (the International Communication Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication); 3) film and media arts (the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the University Film & Video Association); and 4) advertising and public relations (the American Academy of Advertising and the American Association for Public Opinion Research).
Faculty members on the same campus (sometimes in the same department) affiliate with one or more of these clusters. Thus, it is not easy to make covering-law statements about the field, but one gets some insight by looking at the different ways it is configured on U.S. campuses:7
Single unit (mostly social scientific): Arizona, Cornell, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn, Purdue, Stanford, ucla, ucsb, ucsd.
Single unit (mostly humanistic): Brown, Chicago, Dartmouth, Emory, Massachusetts, Notre Dame, nyu, Pittsburgh, Tulane, Virginia, Yale.
Single unit (mostly balanced): Denver, Marquette, Miami, New Mexico, Northeastern, Oregon, Utah, Washington.
Multiple units (co-located departments/schools): Illinois, lsu, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Northwestern, Penn State, Syracuse, Wisconsin.
Collective unit (inclusive/multidepartmental): Boston, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers, Temple, Texas, usc.
Interdisciplinary/graduate: Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, mit, Princeton.
Undergraduate/masters: Boston College, George Washington, Ithaca, Macalester, tcu, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Wake Forest.
This is but a sampling of how the communication discipline is represented in the United States. Virtually every state flagship offers a PhD in communication, most state regionals offer a master's degree, and the great majority of private schools offers a bachelor's degree. Moody College, for which I was dean between 2004 and 2015, shows how robust the field has become. The College is made up of five academic departments, twelve research and outreach centers, and houses both an npr station and a pbs affiliate in its four-building complex. The College currently has 102 tenure-track faculty members, 101 professional faculty, 302 staff members, 4,373 undergraduate majors, and 454 graduate students. The College runs semester-long programs for its students in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City, has large career services and student advising offices, and employs seven full-time fundraisers. Over 54,000 individuals have graduated from the College since its inception, thirty of whom have received the Pulitzer Prize and more than fifty an Emmy. Its PhD recipients now teach at colleges and universities across the United States and throughout the world. There is nothing about Moody College that is not complicated.
That is also true for the communication field itself. Some faculty members trace their roots to English departments in the early 1900s. Others harken back to laboratory studies of World War II propaganda conducted by Harold Lasswell and his cohort at the Office of War Information. A significant number of faculty members in communication got their terminal degrees in sociology, psychology, and political science, gravitating to communication departments because of their openness and taste for diversity. Other renegades came to media arts departments from comparative literature and area studies, still studying literature but now literature on-the-move.
Today, the communication field boasts many specializations. Traditional studies of political rhetoric still abound, although they must now calculate how mass media affect people's receptivities. Scholars studying film, television, and social media report their work in over three dozen scholarly journals. Journalism historians generate hypotheses for survey researchers; others conduct online experiments, exposing one set of subjects to Stimulus #1 and others to Stimulus #2. Studies of communication within complex organizations (that is, business, nonprofit, and governmental settings) are now plentiful, but so too are studies of how parents and children communicate at home. And there is more: What sorts of messages will get the elderly to take their medicine? How can teachers use new media in the high school classroom? Why is misinformation consumed so avidly these days? Are online deepfakes really changing public opinion? How is the “Hollywood ethos” affecting films made by Europeans? Why are young people better informed about environmental challenges than their elders?
One of my colleagues, Scott Stroud, a philosopher by training, has created the Media Ethics Initiative, a wonderful archive of case studies that gets students talking about the issues of the day.8 His students ask, for example, if it is ethical to use TikTok to snitch on people for violating covid-19 restrictions. They also ask what sort of political advertising-if any-should be censured? Are partisan news outlets good for democracy despite their excesses? Should Twitter have cut off Donald Trump? Is doxing always immoral? Are first-person shooter games harmful to children and, if so, how? Is online deception harmless, dangerous, inevitable? Which memes go too far? Which Confederate memorials are allowable? Should sports journalists profit financially from their coverage? Did Nike advance or retard Colin Kaepernick's civil rights initiative? New questions, the old humanities.
I began my professional career in 1970 at Purdue University, where I taught for nine years. During my interview for a newly opened position at the University of Texas at Austin, I was told sotto voce that the department was conducting informal meet-and-greets with undergraduates in an attempt to attract more majors. While the department was prosperous because of the skills courses it taught to all students on campus, it had fewer than one hundred of its own kind, making the department seem insubstantial to some. Today, that department has 584 majors.
Why the increase? There are many reasons, but, generally speaking, the 1970s and 1980s sent a new breed of students to campus. Their immersion in the electronic media was part of that story but they also brought a new mindset with them. Herodotus was fine, they reasoned, and reading Jane Eyre enjoyable, but could one combine creativity and pragmatism in equal measure and then make a career of it? These students were unquestionably impatient, heirs to the land-grant mentality that has made American higher education so distinctive. Like those in business and engineering, communication students embraced homo faber. They also had a new set of heroes: Aristotle rather than Plato, Neil Postman instead of E. D. Hirsch.
But this is also true: most communication students, like those in linguistics and psychology, take 75 percent of their coursework in the arts and sciences writ large, as well they should. What speechwriter could write a speech, after all, without a taste for history? Who can produce a clever advertisement without a sense for cultural nuance? What journalist could write a feature story without the empirical skills needed to sift through mounds of data responsibly? How can Twelve Years a Slave be brought to the screen without understanding Solomon Northrup's world of 1853? Everyday messages come and go but the messages that linger, those that have impact, come from an education that is broad and deep.
What do students study when studying communication? Depending on the breadth of the curriculum, the answer to that question varies from campus to campus, but most departments offer a range of introductory skills classes. These include public speaking, interviewing skills, introduction to advertising, basic reporting, elements of broadcasting, graphic design, feature writing, sound mixing, introduction to screenwriting, and so on. On some campuses, these classes are taught by lecturers or working professionals and, in the case of departments offering the doctorate, they are sometimes taught by graduate students.
Such courses draw directly on the humanities, focused as they are on compositional skills, audience analysis, structure and form, argument design, visual dexterity, and cultural recognition. Proletarian coursework like this would have shocked the Oxford dons of the nineteenth century but America is America, a place where transactionalism resides comfortably. Communication courses make two bold promises: 1) put in the time and change who you are; and 2) say what you say and change the world. Rousseau would blanch. Ben Franklin's ears would perk up.
The interweaving of communication and the humanities can be seen by looking at just a few of the courses taught at ut's Moody College:
Communication and rhetorical studies: theories of persuasion, communication and social movements, political communication, conflict resolution, communication and personal relationships, gender and communication, argumentation and advocacy.
Journalism and mass communication: digital storytelling, news literacy, media law, reporting social justice, online publications, sports reporting, international journalism, online incivility, the Latinx newsroom, news and gender, journalism portfolio.
Film and media arts: media and society, narrative strategies, history of television, world cinema, digital platforms, Internet cultures, global Hollywood, documentary production, film noir, interactive game development, independent films.
Advertising and public relations: creativity and culture, international advertising, brands and storytelling, health messaging, ethics of public relations, communication campaigns, digital metrics, audience development and engagement.
Here is something we too often forget: to engage others in communication is to impose ourselves upon them, to narrow their options, and that brings power to the forefront. The courses listed above focus on questions like these: Whose stories are worth telling? Is mass advertising hegemonic, public relations a whited sepulcher? How can community tensions be reduced and whose job is it to do such work? Which political promises are legitimate, which a fraud? Who owns the nation's airwaves and what gratuities does ownership permit? Are all Americans being heard regardless of their gender and ethnicity? At what precise point do digital discussions run afoul of human decency? What cultural assumptions are built into the evening news? Must filmmakers conform to an implicit set of social norms? Which public arguments are legitimate? How do we know? Who decides? These questions reveal how intertwined communication and the humanities have become.
The field of communication is still a newcomer on the academic scene but it has had its growing pains. On some campuses, turf wars have developed between communication and the older disciplines, wars exacerbated by imbalances in ftes (full-time equivalents), most of which favor communication. Because it is an applied liberal art, some traditionalists have questioned the field's depth while others are suspicious of its connection to popular culture. Still other critics resurrect Augustine: to be genuine, communication should be spontaneous, not practiced; to be responsible, communication must lay out the whole case, not just the attractive parts; to be ethical, communication should be taught by those who know the truth, not by those searching for it.
There have been tensions within the field as well. The 1970s brought entirely new discourses to the discipline, as the rhetoric of civil rights and, later, women's rights and gay rights demanded new places in the curriculum. Keeping up with rapidly developing media modalities created budgetary problems in many departments, problems that sometimes masked deeper resentments between senior and junior faculty or between researchers and practitioners. The most notable tensions, however, were those between faculty in the humanities and social sciences, strains that continue to the present.9 These latter tensions resulted from competing epistemologies but also from questions about what counts: books versus articles, single-versus co-authored studies, applied versus basic research, foundation-based versus federal grants? The school-to-school taxonomy laid out above shows how these tensions have been resolved (or sublimated) in universities across the United States.
Communication's practical roots have let it escape some of the problems besetting other disciplines, but it has not escaped them all. “Communication scholars have failed the challenges posed by critical theory,” say some scholars. “Its laboratory experiments have insufficient statistical power,” say others. “Communication is too ‘white’ a discipline,” some argue, too willing to accept racial privileges for the fortunate, cultural erasure for the rest.10 “Communication is too timid a discipline,” some complain, too ready to dismiss extramural controversies over gay rights, gender rights, and labor rights. “Communication is too U.S.-centric,” say some, too dismissive of the capitalistic logic undergirding media programming and too accepting of the sheer impossibility of bipartisan politics. “Communication is too Western,” others argue, too ready to ignore the Global South's needs for cultural recognition, for new modes of governance, and for new technologies of public engagement.11
Some disciplines are based on a principle: for philosophy, all truths must be interrogated. Some disciplines are based on a habit: for English, reading expands the human heart. Some disciplines are based on a belief: for history, to ignore the past is to become its victim. The discipline of communication, I suggest, is based on a pledge: freedom goes to the articulate. This pledge has its entailments: Through communication, I decide who will pay me or love me or vote for me. Through communication, I decide who will share my truths, honor my gods, appreciate my heritage, purchase my deodorant. Through communication, I become more than flotsam on the seas of your prejudices, more than jetsam on the tides of your ignorance. Through communication, life's waters become not my grave.12 Perhaps these are truisms, but if so, that is what happens when a discipline is built on a pledge.
In 1981, just as enrollments in communication were beginning to soar, I was asked to write an essay for a volume supported by the National Education Association. The essay I wrote was delightfully overwrought and, as I reread it forty years later, its pontifications embarrass me. Still, the essay remains true to the person I have become. In the piece, I castigate the New Philistines who, when describing a college between halves of a Saturday afternoon football game, “make orgiastic allusions to its famed nuclear accelerator, its lengthening cadre of law school graduates, its burgeoning enrollment in data processing, and its newly developed techniques for increasing hog production.”13 Rarely, I noted, “do we find academic institutions described as legitimate havens for those who love literature, music, and the arts; who want to know something of their cultural heritage; or who wish to detect moral dilemmas before the special prosecutor knocks on their doors.” The New Philistinism, I warned, could soon engulf us.
I was only getting started. I went on to ask what special burdens are placed upon faculty in communication when confronted with students who have not mastered a foreign language and, hence, who have little crosscultural sensitivity. I also worried about students who struggled when committing their thoughts to paper because they had taken too few English courses or who could not sustain an argument beyond the level of moral expediency because they had eschewed philosophy as well. Those of us in communication will be swamped by the New Philistinism, I continued, if we fail to remember our heritage in the humanities.
My solution at the time: to remember what it means to think rhetorically. For me it meant this:
To think rhetorically means, at the very least, to think about the resources of language as well as to learn how to utter words. To think rhetorically means to consider the cultural assumptions of would-be listeners and to take those assumptions into account when speaking to them. To think rhetorically means to acknowledge that all ideas-even technological ones-are debatable ideas and that no idea has pre-eminence unless people grant it same. To think well rhetorically is to seize upon the ethical dimensions of a human issue and to lay them bare for listeners. To think well rhetorically is to reason consecutively, to structure ideas and arguments in ways understandable to persons ignorant about those ideas and arguments. To think well rhetorically is to disbelieve almost everything one hears and to take intellectual solace in that skepticism.14
The conclusion I advanced at the time: communication without the humanities is forsaken. Said I:
It is quite possible that our students’ inability to understand subtle rhetoric when they hear it results from their misunderstanding the complex human motivations depicted in that unread Pirandello play or from their unfamiliarity with such historical personages as Joe McCarthy and Huey Long. Their untutored critical sensibilities, dulled by a pablum of media extravaganzas, are part of the problem as well. When our students fail to understand how they are influenced by their social environment or how they can marshal their intellectual resources to combat those influences, they play into the hands of the New Philistines If communication is to become the New Humanities, it must listen respectfully to the current din of pragmatism but it must hearken, too, to the meeker cries of the Old Humanities.15
Naturally, I am delighted that communication enrollments are strong throughout the United States and that a media-saturated world is greeting our students warmly upon graduation. I am delighted as well that the field's intellectual standards have gotten increasingly higher during my time in the academy. In the last three years, for example, humanities faculty members in my modest-sized department have published three books with Cambridge, two with Oxford, two with Chicago, and one with Berkeley. During that same time, research conducted by my social science colleagues has been funded by an astonishing variety of foundations, agencies, and corporations, all designed to find out why communication fails and when it succeeds. Communication is magical and something of a mystery, but it is no longer a complete mystery.
Some members of my discipline are anguished that Harvard has no communication department for its undergraduates and that the Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory has been assigned to poets since 1925. Harvard still has its star debaters, of course, as well as the Harvard Crimson, the Harvard Lampoon, and, on the other side of campus, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. No doubt, Harvard students would be better off if they could take courses like those offered at Moody College but, somehow, I suspect, they will find a way to make a living upon graduating. Elsewhere in the country, indeed almost everywhere else, students will study communication, the modern incarnation of the oldest humanistic discipline in the Western world.
“Outcomes: Degrees Conferred, by Level, Discipline, and Gender, 2017–18,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/degrees-conferred-by-level-discipline-and-gender-2017-18?cid2=gen_login_refresh&cid=gen_sign_in.
For more on the origins of English departments, see William R. Parker, “Where Do English Departments Come From?” College English 28 (5) (1967): 339–351.
See Princeton University, “Department of Philosophy: The Early Years,” https://philosophy.princeton.edu/about/early-years.
John R. McCormick, “History of Foreign Language Teaching at the United States Military Academy,” Modern Language Journal 54 (5) (1970), https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1970.tb02274.x.
Roughly ten years later, another group of malcontents left still other English departments to form the first school of journalism at the University of Missouri. See Hilary Akers Dunn, History of Journalism Education: An Analysis of 100 Years of Journalism Education (unpublished master's thesis, Louisiana State University, 2018).
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Humanities in American Life: Insights from a 2019 Survey of the Public's Attitudes and Engagement (Cambridge, Mass.: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020).
The first five groupings are restricted to programs regularly enrolling a significant number of doctoral students.
The Media Ethics Initiative is housed within Moody College's Center for Media Engagement. See https://mediaethicsinitiative.org/.
For a data-packed overview of these intradisciplinary differences, see James A. Anderson and Michael K. Middleton, “Epistemological Movements in Communication: An Analysis of Empirical and Rhetorical/Critical Scholarship,” in A Century of Communication Studies: The Unfinished Conversation, ed. Pat J. Gehrke and William M. Keith (New York: Routledge, 2015), 82–108.
For more on this matter, see a bracingly thoughtful set of essays edited by Thomas Nakayama, “Forum: Whiteness and Communication,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 17 (2) (2019): 199–266.
These and other challenges to the discipline are described in helpful detail in the chapters contained in Gehrke and Keith, eds., A Century of Communication Studies.
Adapted from Roderick P. Hart, “Why Communication? Why Education? Toward a Politics of Teaching,” Communication Education 42 (1993): 97–105.
Roderick P. Hart, “Speech Communication as the New Humanities,” in Education for the Eighties: Speech Communication, ed. Gustav Friedrich (Washington, D.C.: National Education Association, 1981), 37. This and subsequent excerpts from this essay have been slightly modified for presentation here.