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PhD in Communication

SOC PhD lady students

Thematic Concentrations

Students take core and required courses offered within the School of Communication that have been designed specifically to equip graduate students with knowledge and expertise in the major theories and methodologies of the field. They work closely with a faculty advisor to create an individualized program of electives. Courses will include communication classes, as well as courses from other units on campus, organized around the student’s choice of the following thematic concentrations.

Media, Public Issues, and Engagement

This concentration focuses on use of the media and technology for public life, civil society, and for addressing social problems. Areas of interest include: the role of media and technology in evolution of citizen attitudes, preferences, knowledge, and behavior; media and technology as resources for social change, empowering citizens, social movements, and advocacy coalitions; and the function of the media both in shaping and reflecting policy agendas and decisions. Students in this concentration examine the ethics, social contexts, and limits of different models for public engagement, including issues related to citizen participation, persuasion, and coercion. Research and applications span subject areas and sub-fields such as media interactions with science, health, the environment, elections and advocacy campaigns, children and the media, foreign policy, the economy, and social policy. Students are trained in advanced research methods including public opinion and media content research, formative and evaluative research of campaigns, and organizational strategy.

Media Industries and Institutions

The emphasis in this concentration is on the social, economic, political, and technological characteristics of media industry structure and practice. Students in this area investigate the complex interrelationships among nonprofit organizations, news media, government, and business. Research and applications include: the role of digital technologies and public policy in civic participation and in evolving relationships among media content producers and their audiences; social and political implications of changing business models; structures of public media; media industry’s impact on issues of technology, responsibility, and social equity in areas such as personal freedom, diversity, government transparency, social surveillance, privacy, trade, and corporate responsibility. Students are trained in advanced research methods including comparative and historical analysis, quantitative analysis, case study approaches, ethnography, and interviewing.

Media, Technology, and Culture

This concentration features the application of critical theories from the humanities and social sciences to examine the construction of media expression in emerging digital culture, and to create and analyze new forms of media as tools for public life and civil society. Scholarship may combine theoretical approaches from philosophy, history, sociology, film studies, and cultural studies to address a wide spectrum of issues, including: the role of communications media in the construction of identity, stereotypes, and perception; social, economic, and cultural norms of emerging digital media; changing creative practices and their social and policy implications; the interplay of democratic processes and technological change; as well as the significance of media in public ritual, social control, and propaganda. Students are encouraged to combine media theory with production practices in the fields of journalism, documentary film, and social media.