The Department of Communication at California State University, Fresno offers a blend of traditional and contemporary understandings of communication. The program presents a balance of humanistic and scientific instruction including communication skills people need to function effectively in teaching, business, law, the communication professions, public service, politics and management. Students have an opportunity to explore the full range of human communication.
Our program requires a comprehensive understanding of the breadth and depth of our discipline, its major theoretical orientations and its major research methodologies. Students investigate problems in diverse cultural settings, which make the San Joaquin Valley, with its tremendous ethnic diversity, an ideal location for study. In this cultural arena, we help students understand ethical issues inherent in human communication.
Both the major and minor are grounded in the fundamental communication contexts including interpersonal, group, organizational, intercultural and instructional communication. Additionally, applied contexts in consulting, business communication, humor, gerontology communication, technology and leadership are available.
Reflecting changes within the discipline, students’ needs for career preparation and the diverse specializations of the faculty, the name of the Department was changed from “Speech Communication” to simply “Communication” in Fall 1999. The various undergraduate emphases within the Department of Communication are similarly designed to provide students with comprehensive training in both humanistic and social scientific approaches to the study and practice of human communication in an increasingly communication-oriented global society. Recognizing that some careers require extensive knowledge about specific communication practices (in occupations ranging from politics and law to human resources and public relations), while virtually every field demands competence in oral and written communication skills, the Department’s undergraduate program offers degree and certificate options tailored to our students varying needs.
The Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication is designed to provide undergraduate Majors with broad competence in oral and written communication, critical analysis of human discourse and research methods. The Major also emphasizes how this theoretical knowledge is applied in specific contexts ranging from personal relationships to business management to political advocacy. The Department offers an additional Major program, coordinated with the Department of English, in the Teacher Credential Program; this Speech/English Single Subject Waiver Program prepares students to pursue a primary or secondary school teaching professional credential through the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.
In order to assist students majoring in other fields to prepare for careers that will inevitably require skills in oral and written communication, leadership and conflict resolution, the Department offers a Minor in Communication. To meet the needs of business professionals who seek focused training in presentational speaking, problem solving and decision making, leadership, and organizational communication, the Department offers a Communication Skills for Professionals Certificate.
Our Master of Arts degree offers students a balance of advanced instruction in social scientific communication and rhetorical studies. Graduate study is seen as a continuing interaction between teaching and research. The graduate program encourages free scholarly inquiry as a forum for the discussion and critical examination of ideas, findings and conclusions. Individuals are given opportunities to develop intellectually, personally, and professionally in various departmental activities and graduate seminars open to a diversified student population. The master’s program is built around several seminars, including communication theory, rhetorical theory, organizational communication, research methods, rhetorical criticism, interpersonal communication and intercultural communication. The culminating master's degree experience is a thesis, project or comprehensive exam.
Each year, the Department of Communication sponsors the Peach Blossom Festival. The festival began over forty years ago as a joint effort between the Speech Communication and Theater Arts Departments at CSU, Fresno. The Festival was created to help young people realize the importance of reading literature aloud, to teach them about interpretation, performance, how to be an audience member and to give them an opportunity to visit a university campus. Since conception, the Festival has grown tremendously and now attracts schools from as far north as Livingston and as far south as Delano. Today the festival is solely run by the Communication Department.
Each spring, the Department of Communication hosts the Undergraduate Communication Conference. The conference offers an opportunity for students to share their academic work with peers and seasoned scholars. The conference allows undergraduate students (and first year Masters students) to gain valuable professional presentation experience. Also, students receive constructive feedback. The conference includes scholastic panels, keynote presentations and a recognition dinner, typically at the University President's home. The event occurs during Vintage Days at Fresno State. This festival is a time-honored tradition of fun, crafts, music and community that provides an entertaining backdrop to collegial scholarship and conference dialogue.