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Communication department develops new programs

March 21st, 2013

The faculty of the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts have been hard at work establishing new opportunities for communication students. The new master’s program in health communication and the new theatre minor to be offered to students will contribute to a growing curriculum, offering more opportunities to students at JCU.

Alan R. Stephenson, a professor in the communication department since 1985 with a history in broadcasting and cable for 23 years, said, “Since communication is always changing and growing in so many directions, we are obliged to be alert to what’s going on in the field and enforce those changes here at John Carroll.”

Jennifer Catellier, an assistant communication professor, is the main contributor in the content development of the new master’s program. Catellier was recently published in the New York Daily News for her research on mood and exercise. Mary Beadle, the communication department chair and one of the developers of the program, said that hiring Catellier was a part of the recognition that “we must move into this area of health communications, living in a community where the hospitals, insurance companies and health field is really growing.”

Beadle also said, “When Dr. Catellier did the research, [she found that] there is no other school in the area that is doing this particular focus on health communication. We are filling a gap for the community.”

The first class being offered, The Ethics and Law of Health Communication, will be taught by Mary-Michelle Coleman, a JCU alumni who currently teaches the Media Law class at the University.

Catellier urged that with a pragmatic curriculum, there will be diverse opportunities in needed jobs for JCU students.

“If anyone is considering anything health-related, regardless of your major, this isn’t something that is specific to communications majors” she said. “If you did something else as an undergraduate, and this is an area that you are interested in working in, business, IT, nursing and psychology are all majors would be well suited for a graduate course work in health communications.”

The new year-and-a-half-long master’s program will offer one class in the fall, one in the spring, and another the following fall. A class for the summer is also in the works.

This new master’s program track in health communication will offer such courses as Ethics and Law of Health Communication, Topics in Health Communication, Health Campaigns and Communication in Health Settings.

In the theatre realm, several courses have existed as an integral part of a general communications minor, but this is the first time that the courses will count as a minor specifically in theatre. Karen Gygli, associate professor of theatre, highlighted that not only is Cleveland  currently the second-largest theatre district in the United States next to Broadway, but like the health field, theatre plays a contributing role in a diverse spectrum of occupations in the area.

Gygli noted that in addition, there are several social awareness programs through PlayhouseSquare, hospitals and businesses that use theater to advertise social interactive workshops and performances in communities. With these aspects in mind, Gygli feels that through public relations, marketing and education, a minor in theatre will “create an aspect [that] can add a dimension to the student to make him or her stand out in the competitive job market.”