The Communication Arts department is a rhetorically-based Liberal Arts program with emphases in Public Relations, Theatre, and Broadcasting, whose goal is to train technically-sound, rhetorically-competent, and ethically-minded individuals for careers in communication fields in communities throughout the United States.
1) Communication Arts is a rhetorically-based Liberal Arts program. What does this mean? In Medieval times, the liberal arts of grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music were considered the seven areas imperative for a well-rounded education (Abelson, 2007). Today, Communication Arts continues in this tradition, emphasizing rhetoric, while updating our understanding for today’s complicated marketplace.
So what is rhetoric in today’s world? Simply put, rhetoric is the study of our use of words as enacted in our deeds in order to make the best decisions under the circumstances provided. So if an interpersonal conflict arises, rhetoric helps someone navigate this situation with the best results possible. If a broadcaster is delivering a news story, rhetoric helps her decide the clearest and most responsible way of giving this information to the community. For the actor, rhetoric helps him interpret how that art will be portrayed with the greatest effect on the audience and for the art. In other words, rhetoric bridges diverse fields in ways that can richly enhance the lives of both the speaker and the audience. Everyone can gain from a degree in Communication Arts.
2) We train people who are technically-sound… In CART, we train students in practical ways through workshops in theatre, radio, television, newspaper, and public relations. You perform the art, not just talk about it. This technical experience means you can work with stage lighting, write press releases, work an editing program, and deliver good speeches. Such practical experience is important in today’s marketplace.
3) …rhetorically-competent… However, such technical skill is not enough. We train people in wide areas of philosophy, theory, and scientific study to foster competence in thinking & interpretation. Thus, our students can do much more than just work a camera or write a press release; they can think about how that camera could be used better, analyze why certain words will be criticized, and understand why their audience will find certain elements of their work persuasive and other ones distasteful. CART provides you with the theory necessary to make good interpretations and think in new ways.
4) …and ethically-minded. There is little point in doing the above if the person has no larger sense of purpose or holds malicious intentions. Thus, we ask: What is your place in the world? In what ways does rhetoric help and harm others? What effects will certain communication styles have on your relationships? What is the relation of truth to our use of symbols? Classes are organized so that students can contemplate these and other questions that hopefully can guide them on paths towards fulfillment and responsibility.
5) …for careers in communication fields in communities throughout the United States. Students in rhetoric are uniquely positioned to understand their place in community. CART graduates can confidently take their skills to any employer or graduate school across America and contribute to the betterment of their community. Southern West Virginia has been transformed by the work of Concord alumni, and it is hoped this department can continue in that transformational process through civic-minded graduates in Communication Arts.
Abelson, Paul. The Seven Liberal Arts: A Study in Medieval Culture. Whitefish, MT, 2007.