Northwestern to offer three new communications majors

Beginning next fall, Northwestern College will offer three new majors in the communications department. The majors of cinema and digital video, journalism, and public relations replace the general communication studies major.

“We’re responding to students’ desires,” says Jamey Durham, department chairperson. “We have had a lot of student-initiated majors in public relations, students have been asking for more advanced video production classes, and a number of students have been seeking more in-depth preparation for careers in journalism.”

All three majors will give students significant hands-on experiences, such as writing for the student newspaper or community newspapers; producing press releases, brochures and marketing videos for area nonprofit organizations; or writing their own scripts and crafting short films.

Another common theme for the majors is their emphasis on preparing students to tell compelling stories. “Storytelling really transcends all the different media: film, Web, newspapers, print,” says Durham. “Our main goal is to teach students to become good storytellers.”

The new majors also draw on the strengths of other academic departments at Northwestern. All three include a number of English courses. Art, business and theatre courses are also required, depending upon the major.

The cinema and digital video major is rare among small private colleges in the Midwest and Christian colleges nationwide, according to Durham. It also is timely, he says, because of the growing interest in the Christian film industry after Mel Gibson’s highly successful “The Passion of the Christ.” New courses added to the curriculum for the major include Digital Video Editing, American Cinema Studies, Screenwriting for Short Film, and Corporate Video Production. Students may also spend a semester studying and interning in the Council for Christian College & Universities’ Los Angeles Film Studies Center.

The major in journalism will seek to provide students with preparation for careers in news reporting and editing, whether they will be in urban centers or small towns. One of the major’s focuses will be community journalism—helping students appreciate how news works differently in smaller communities. Students will also have the opportunity to study and intern in the new Washington Journalism Center, offered by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. New courses added for the major include Community Journalism and Advanced Writing Project.

The public relations major features a service-learning focus with students gaining real-world experience while helping area businesses and organizations through the department’s Go Communications team. Northwestern is in the process of hiring a new public relations professor, who will have the flexibility to offer advanced topics courses in his or her specific fields of expertise.