Focus Areas

Our curriculum focuses on six main areas: interpersonal and family communication, mass media, organizational communication, political communication, identity and diversity communication, and health and crisis communication. The faculty have national and international reputations for research and teaching in these areas.

Interpersonal and Family Communication

The Interpersonal and Family Communication area focuses on communication processes in personal relationships, with a particular emphasis on families. Scholars in this area examine how communication drives individual and relational identity work, sense-making, management of divergent identities, and well-being in families. The Interpersonal and Family Communication area features the Institute of Family Diversity and Communication (

Graduate Program for Interpersonal and Family Communication


Mediated Communication

The Mass Media area focuses on theory and research related to media content and use, media effects, and audience reception.  Scholars in this area study the psychological processes of media use and effects, media representation of cultural groups, effects of immersive media and social networking, audience reception of popular culture, and fan studies. 

Graduate Program for Mediated Communication


Organizational Communication

The Organizational Communication area focuses on the various ways in which we produce, enact, and generally conduct our lives in various organizational contexts. We explore organizations at the interpersonal, cultural, and social levels, with emphasis on creating ethical, constructive communities in both for profit and non-profit settings.

Graduate Program for Organizational Communication


Political Communication

The Political Communication area features nationally and internationally known faculty, whose study of politics and communication encompasses the communicative activity of citizens, individual political figures, governmental institutions, the media, political campaigns, advocacy groups, and social movements. The Political Communication area features the Political Communication Institute (

Graduate Program in Political Communication


Identity, Diversity, and Communication

The Identity, Diversity, and Communication area focuses on communication processes central to experiences of social identity, culture, and difference.  The communicative (re)production and consequences of prejudice and tolerance are explored through lenses of intergroup theorizing, stigma, and power. Faculty work as part of interdisciplinary teams to illuminate identity formation and diversity in terms of representations, cognitions, and relationships.

Graduate Program in Identity, Diversity, and Communication


Health And Crisis Communication

The health and crisis communication emphasis area examines interpersonal communication, social interactions, mediated communication, organizational communication, and public communication related to health or crisis contexts. These processes are critical to public health, health promotion and education, well-being, resilience, and policy efforts. Health and crisis faculty often work as part of interdisciplinary teams to examine communicative activities that have important implications for individuals, children, families, organizations, schools, and communities. The Health and Crisis Communication area features the Disaster and Community Crisis Center (

Graduate Program in Health and Crisis Communication


Department of Communication Faculty

Seated: Brian Houston, Cassandra Kearney, Haley Horstman, Debbie Dougherty
Standing: Rebecca Meisenbach, Andrea Figueroa-Caballero, Stephen Klien, Chris Josey, Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, Mitchell McKinney, Ben Warner, Julius Riles, Colleen Colaner