Speech communication faculty members help students explore how and why people communicate, and the effects of communication on individuals, groups, organizations, and societies. In support of this mission, the department provides a curriculum that:

  • Examines communication theory and research
  • Encourages practice and improvement of communication skills in a variety of contexts
  • Explores communication from a multicultural perspective
  • Provides flexibility and choice to best suit your academic and professional aspirations

Our faculty are highly qualified and committed to students, and our majors are dynamic students who engage in lively class discussions and critical thinking.

The department also sponsors the La Verne Debate Team, which competes nationally and internationally. All students are welcome to join.

Description of the Speech and Communication Field

A speech communication major is a person striving to understand complex human communication behavior from liberal arts and social sciences perspectives. Our majors are involved in:

  • Understanding the roles communication plays in human interaction
  • Facilitating and analyzing individual, interpersonal, small group, and public communication processes
  • Planning and managing programs that improve the quality of human communication

Historical description of the field

Speech Communication, as an academic discipline, traces its origins to classical rhetoric, which evolved into a prominent component of the seven liberal arts of the medieval schools. “The ability to speak clearly, eloquently, and effectively has been recognized as the hallmark of an educated person since the beginning of recorded history . . . . In the United States, rhetorical training has been a part of formal education since Harvard’s founding in 1636.”1 During the nineteenth century, a reexamination of the rhetorical tradition began, inspired primarily by the interests of social scientists in human communication. This resulted in the formation of speech communication as a discipline incorporating the two related yet distinct areas of rhetoric and communication studies. Both areas investigate similar questions about human interaction, but they vary in the methods used to answer these questions. Rhetoric scholars utilize humanistic methods and communication studies scholars utilize social-scientific methods. Together, they pursue the study and practice of human communication.

Current description of the field

Speech communication scholars explore the creation of social realities, the nature of verbal and nonverbal signs and symbols, and the role of communicative behavior in a variety of social contexts (including personal relationships, organizations, intercultural encounters, political and legal debates, and beyond).

Speech communication most commonly refers to non-mediated communication and is different from mass communications, which refers to mediated communication. In mediated communication, something comes between the sender and the final receiver of the message (e.g., radios, television sets, networked computers). The University of La Verne’s Speech Communication department is devoted to non-mediated forms of communication.

As specific areas of study, rhetoric and persuasion emphasize communication in the contexts of debate, public address and discourse, political and legal communication, and even social influence attempts in sales, personal relationships, and work relationships. Interpersonal and intercultural communication recognize the role of communication in the development, maintenance, and deterioration of relationships, including personal, work, and stranger relationships, and relationships across cultures. Organizational and group communication is the study of information flow within an organization, between the organization and the external environment, and among groups.

Most academic training in the area of speech communication takes the perspective that successful communication is partly a learned skill. Most people are born with the physical abilities to acquire necessary communication tools, but such potential does not guarantee that they will learn to communicate effectively. Language, rhetorical strategies, listening skills, and a lexicon of verbal and nonverbal meanings are developed in various ways. It is theorized that people gain their communication skills by having them modeled by persons in their environment, by being taught specific techniques through the educational process, and by practicing their abilities and having them evaluated. 2

Today, speech communication is very common major, with approximately 118,000 communication majors pursuing undergraduate degrees and 16,000 seeking graduate degrees in communication across the nation. 2

  1. 1 Friedrich, G. W. (1991). Essentials of speech communication. In Morreale S., Janusik, L., Randall, M., & Vogl, M. (Eds.), Communication Programs: Rationale and Review Kit. (1997). Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association, p. 125.
  2. 2 National Communication Association. (1998). Pathways to careers in communication (5th ed.) [Brochure]. Washington D.C.: Sherwyn P. Morreal and Matthew W. Vogl.

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