GW offers global communications degree

A new global communications masters program the University will offer for the first time next fall is likely to generate more than $2 million over the next five years, according to a report presented to the Board of Trustees.

The report states that developers designed the masters program after recognizing that communications are essential to every organization and that a wide range of organizations now have a global focus.

“Global communication has really become an integral part of understanding international affairs,” said Kristin Lord, associate dean of the Elliot School of International Affairs. “Information communications and technology have become critical and essential in understanding development, security and politics. We thought it would good to have students understand the issues in-depth.”

The University anticipates enrolling eight to 12 students in the program during its first two years, and plans to recruit students for the program using focus groups and interviews with representatives of the State Department, the United States Army, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the RAND Corporation.

Over the past year, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Elliott School have worked together to develop the program to prepare students for work as journalists, broadcasters, public affairs specialists or communications directors.

“There has been a long desire with the College of Arts and Sciences through the School of Media and Public Affairs and Elliot School of International to build on our mutual strengths and offer something that could serve a lot of students and enables us to do something that we can’t do as well separately,” program director Robert Entman said. “We have the expertise on international relations and they have a great political communication program.”

The University does not plan to develop or offer any new courses as part of the program and instead will require that students take a set of courses already offered in a variety of departments.

“The cost of a new program depends greatly on the nature of the program. Some are relatively simple to put together because the faculty and relevant courses are already in place – as was true with the global communication program,” said Carol Sigelman, associate vice president of graduate studies and academic affairs. “Developing a program from scratch would be much more difficult,”

American offers a similar program with 20 to 30 students that is taught by part-time faculty. The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication offers a similar program which enrolls 65 students per year. Georgetown, Syracuse and Columbia universities also offer similar programs that address different elements of global communication. According to the report to the Board, the program was developed as a result of its popularity at other universities with similar programs.

“We have one of the best international affairs schools and one of the best political communication faculties in the country,” Entman said. “I believe when you add that to our location and the fact that there are very few similar programs, all of that suggests to me that (the program) will be a resounding success.”

Even as GW adds new graduate programs, in the past few years budget cuts have forced at least one graduate program to be eliminated. In 2004, the geology department and the graduate program in geology were cut

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