The headline above was the title of a Quello Center roundtable discussion this afternoon, with the participation of several senior figures of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, chaired by Professor William Dutton.
Here are some of my reflections as an outsider – listener:
First, pay attention to the fact that the topic is “the future of the field“. Is it clear to everyone what field we are talking about? Obviously, you think of “Communication” as the “field”; however it is not so obvious, and what Communication is, as an academic field, is not so obvious as well. Actually, this was the core issue of the discussion in the seminar: the definition and the boundaries of “the field”.
Is it an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research field? Can scholars from computer sciences, public policy, health education, etc. be considered as communication scholars as well? Are Internet studies, technology engineering studies, etc. part of any Communication department’s syllabus? Are there common research interests for scholars from the Department of Communication, the Department of Media and Information, and the School of Journalism (all of them under the umbrella of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU)? Does the multifaceted nature of the College reflect diversity or fragmentation in the field? Is it positive or negative? All these questions and many others were addressed as topics of the discussion.
For me, as a relatively young scholar (although not such a young man), this diversity in the field is a blessing; it opens a variety of opportunities; it makes “Communication” a very exciting academic field; it allows a real thorough understanding of the social reality within which we live in the 21st century. So yes, old media as well as new media, media policy as well as media technology, journalism as an occupation as well as journalism as a societal phenomenon; Internet as an infrastructure, a fascinating technology, and a public sphere, and so on… All of these are “Communication” for me.
Therefore, I do not find any need for defining or re-defining the field, I do not see any problem with the fact that there are no precise boundaries to the field, and I can only appreciate the fact that scholars of Communication can contribute to other scholarly fields and can be informed by the contributions of other scholars from various disciplines as well.
Avshalom Ginosar, PhD, Communication Department, The Academic College of Yezreel Valley
Visiting Scholar, The Quello Center, The Department of Media & Information, The College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Michigan State University