Why Comm and not Comms?

You may wonder why we call ourselves the Department of Communication and not Communications. The simple answer is that we use the term “communication” to reflect our department’s focus on the social scientific study of communication—specifically, the process by which humans use symbols, verbal and nonverbal, to create meaning and form relationships with other humans in face-to-face or mediated environments. This is the essence of what we teach, research, and do in our department. “Communications,” in contrast, is often used to refer to the products—the messages that are transmitted or distributed—or to the equipment (like wireless or fiber optic cables) that conducts the transmission. While these are integral elements of communication study, they do not form the basis for our program. People tend to use the terms interchangeably, and even some social science departments like ours use communications with the "s." But we prefer “communication” and, incidentally, have been the Department of Communication since 1987, when we changed the name from Communication Arts to emphasize our focus on the scientific study of communication rather than the more applied “art” of communicating.