Monday, July 11, 2011

Communication Curriculum Updates arising from SUSI 2011

By Dr. Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu

The communication curriculum in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University is very unique and cosmopolitan in many respects. I like the idea of the specializations and providing students workshop trainings. This is the way I think we should go in the next 20 years.

Some scholars have, however, expressed fears that employers now prefer graduates who can cover news events, write stories, take and edit videos and pictures by their own, and even present the story wherever and whenever is applicable. So, to dance to the tune of the so-called market forces, such scholars are advocating for a redesigning of the communication curriculum to train students to become master of all. This may never be the situation.

I do not think the employers can win this one. They will have no choice in the matter. In the face place, I believe a reasonable employer will prefer a graduate with the requisite skills and be talent in a particular field of communication than those who have a secondary knowledge of different aspects of the communication arena and are struggling to be what he is not. This is the main reason why I think "Mass Communication" should be abolished. We don't have "mass" in the sense of the word anymore. The current practice at Scripps College of Communication should be a model to be photocopied across the globe.

Let students make a choice of their areas of interest and enable the curriculum to fit their needs. We can no longer have jack of all trades. Lugging a camera around is not equal to taking an ecstasy shot that tells a story more than words will have. In Nigeria, we have attempted experimenting with students knowing something of every aspects of this discipline. This is good but should not be the practice for a four-year program. The major areas should be emphasized and students should be made to go into such with a sense of detail. Most respectable disciplines have no generalists but specialists. A medical doctor only make sense to me when he is a specialist surgeon, gynecologist, etc.

So, let's go ahead and produce photojournalists with an eye for photographs; a great newscaster with such elegance and elocution in her voice; an eloquent speaker, a visual communication, experts artist, a print writer etc. This is where the industry is headed to. Kudos to Scripps College of Communication for being on the track already. Others should not step outside but participate it soon. What they want is a commitment that this will work. I know it would work.

Thank you SUSI 2011 for this exposure on curriculum issues focusing on the U.S. and other universities represented.

Dr. Nnamdi T. Ekeanyanwu
Director, International Office and Linkages
Covenant University.

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