Limestone Launches New Professional Communication Program
Luis Pires '10
By Alicia Smith '12

This fall, Limestone College will introduce a new major, Professional Communication, an interdisciplinary major consisting of courses from various fields including Computer Science, Art, English, and Business Administration.

The program is designed to help students develop the ability to communicate ideas for various audiences in both print and digital media.

Dr. Randy Nichols, Assistant Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Interdisciplinary Studies at Limestone, will lead the program. He describes new media, which includes social networking and blogging, as a remediation of the old media of television and radio. While "old media" broadcast to a mass audience through a centralized source, the newer interactive media is more "'democratic' in that the means of production and publishing are available to practically everyone."

Limestone Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Karen Gainey explained that the formation of the new degree program began as a result of the interest of prospective students. Over a period of years, Communication became the most requested area of study. Dr. Gainey also pointed out that the College "realized that we have a number of opportunities internally where students could get good, practical experience in Communication" including helping with the webcasting of Limestone athletic events or working in the communication offices around campus.

The concepts of new media will be further explored in the Digital Literacies courses that were created for the program. The classes will be based on "the principles of orality and alphabetic literacy, but will also take into account the need for developing ‘digital literacies' for the modern real-world workplace."

Digital Literacies I & II will examine the ways that one can translate the communication proficiencies of speech, writing and composition to the digital world. The courses will also evaluate several forms of digital communication including digital publishing, social networking, live presentation and digital photography.

The Professional Communication major consists of 56 semester hours, 12 of which are writing intensive courses. The classes, which are currently offered only on the main Limestone Campus, will be relatively small in size. This will allow professors to provide one-on-one instruction and students to "teach each other more effectively" when the classes are smaller.

The program, however, is not only beneficial for students who are seeking careers in Communication. Dr. Gainey believes that "a number of students who major in other areas would be well-served by taking some of the Digital Communications classes" as the new program "fills a ‘gap' in our programs and will help students, in many majors, become more proficient communicating via the various media that our graduates will be expected to understand."

She hopes that "this new major equips its graduates to walk into a communications or public relations position in any sector... and be able to write, speak, and publish competently and effectively in all available media."