Welcome to the Department of Communication in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The Department of Communication is dedicated to enhancing understanding of communication processes, institutions, systems, and practices; informing and educating a wide range of constituencies; and fostering communication competencies, all in service to ethical public discourse in a civil society committed to positive social change. Our faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and alumni are recognized leaders in developing and applying novel theoretical perspectives to address important issues. Grounded in the theoretical and methodological rigor of the social sciences, we teach classes and conduct research on real-world communication problems related to media, health, agriculture, and the environment, among others. We recognize and value a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative empirical methods, and we celebrate research as a core element of teaching in all its forms and teaching as a fundamental spur to research. Today, the Department of Communication is a national and international leader in conducting research with a strong commitment to educating the next generation of citizenry to address these issues. Its vision is to be the global leader in promoting greater understanding of human communication—its forms, structures, and effects—in a world that is intricately mediated, technologically sophisticated, and scientifically informed.
At the undergraduate level, we ensure that students acquire communication competencies and the ability to connect those practices with theory, both through traditional coursework and through active engagement in undergraduate research. Our carefully constructed curriculum provides a core of contemporary communication knowledge, theory, and practice: students learn how communication influences attitudes, opinions, and behaviors; how communication systems work in society; and how to apply this understanding of communication to solving problems, sustaining the environment, reaching the public with new knowledge, and managing the intricate networks of technologies. Our focus areas allow students to deepen their knowledge in one of the four areas of Communication, Environment, Science, and Health; Communication Media Studies; Communication and Information Technology; and Communication and Social Influence.
At the graduate level, our faculty and associated Graduate Field of Communication ensure that students are familiar with a wide range of tools, theories, and methods and can use these skills in original empirical research that asks and answers theoretically driven, socially relevant questions. Our overarching goal is to produce well-rounded graduates who are equipped to be top scholars in their fields, and to do so, we focus our program on three objectives: scholarship, professionalization, and ethics. Our Field has a long history of strong interdisciplinary research collaborations with other fields, including: Information Science, Psychology, Human Development, Natural Resources, Food Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Nutritional Sciences, Development Sociology, Entomology, Lab of Ornithology, and AEM, to name a few, and through centers like the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. As a result, Communication graduate students enjoy exceptional flexibility in designing a program to fit their needs. Drawing from the resources of Cornell’s outstanding scholars in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities, our students are finding new ways to investigate how communication shapes and molds our society.
The Department of Communication’s goals for undergraduate major student learning are:
- Develop familiarity with ideas fundamental to scholarship in the social sciences, with mastery of principles of key communication theories.
- Demonstrate understanding of how processes of social influence operate in communication contexts including science, media and technology.
- Apply systematic analytic skills to pressing social and policy issues.
- Develop communication knowledge and skills to enter into and succeed in complex social organizations.
- Recognize the foundations, assumptions, and methods of communication research, and be able to apply a wide range of empirical research methods to diverse intellectual questions.
- Write and speak lucidly, logically, and intelligently.