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GSW launches new communication degree to meet regional workforce needs and high student demand

In response to regional industry workforce needs and student demand, Georgia Southwestern will launch a brand new academic degree program, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Emerging Media, set to begin Spring 2022. GSW brought forth the proposal to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia which was recently approved at the September board meeting.

“One message that we heard repeatedly during the Academic Planning process in Fall 2019 from our local and regional business partners is that they need employees who are versed in a variety of communication skills,” said Suzanne Smith, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “This, along with the workforce data showing current and projected job openings within a 100-mile radius, made it clear that a degree in communication and emerging media was a big need in our area.”

The newly developed program is designed to train students in a variety of skills required for traditional and digital communications. Curriculum courses include media studies, public relations, persuasion, digital media, sports communications and media, among others. The program will allow considerable flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of employers and graduates in this field. Students may select electives in various departments such as business, information technology and nursing in order to fit the need of each student as they work towards their individual goals.

“We wanted to offer a communication degree that is interdisciplinary and tailored to meet the needs identified by our employers,” stated GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “Building off past and current programs, we have knitted together courses from computer science, communication, and marketing to develop an extremely sought after career path centered around digital media, digital marketing, social media communications, and the design and development of digital communications.”

Jordan Whitening, a junior from Stone Mountain, expressed his excitement about the newly added program. Jordan is a dramatic arts major with a concentration in communication and media who plans to take courses focused on sports communications.

“I am looking forward to learning about how different media platforms affect society. I have always aspired to become a sports analyst or sports journalist, and now this program will benefit me greatly because it gives me a broader perspective into the sports communications field.” 

Two full-time, experienced faculty members were brought in to help establish the program: Ashley Jones from Georgia State University whose research focuses on the intersections of feminist theory and digital media, specifically digital games, and Jonathan Carter from Eastern Michigan University with a focus on the intersections of social media, digital culture, and American politics. Pat Peacock, a part-time instructor, also brings a wealth of knowledge in filmmaking and video production. Their expertise together will play a key role in the growth and continued development of the program.

Access to a communication research library and a new state-of-the-art digital media lab will enable students to gain hands on experience to strategically navigate multiple communication platforms that can be applied to an array of disciplines and careers. Experiential learning opportunities will also be available on and off campus.

Graduates of the program will find career opportunities in advertising, journalism, public relations, marketing, web content design, social media management, news writing and reporting, brand strategy, film production and beyond.

The communication program is also working to develop certificates in Public Relations, Sports and Journalism, Business Communication, Health Communication, Rhetoric, Communication Studies, Media Studies, and Digital Media and Technology.

“I’m excited we’re going to be able to meet the desires of potential students as well as the business needs of our local and regional partners with the introduction of this new degree,” said Smith. “I look forward to seeing the growth of this program in the years to come.” 

For more information on the new degree, please visit www.gsw.edu/CommMedia or contact Dr. Mark Laughlin at mark.laughlin@gsw.edu or (229) 931-2250.