The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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The English and Communications Split

The+English+and+Communications+Split

The English and Communications departments, especially those existing at MCLA, have always been closely connected to one another, if not appearing to many students and outsiders as one in the same. The subjects of English and Communications have an abundance of overlap, dealing with a numerous amount of similar aspects or styles of learning. The most apparent similarity between the two departments is the skills of both reading and writing, activities that both English and Communications majors participate in tenfold, though often in varied manners.

An example of this interconnectedness is students in both the English and Communications departments attending the same award ceremony at the end of each school year, in addition to many other similarities that connected, and still do connect, these two departments. But this is no longer as of 2024, as the two departments are no longer categorized under the same umbrella.

As of January 24, 2024, English and Communications are officially no longer associated with one another. Creative Writing and Literary Studies professor and English chairperson Zachary Finch announced in an email to all English and/or Communications majors and/or minors that an administrative change regarding these departments has occurred. While this is seemingly both a sudden and drastic change, Finch highlights that, “this change is purely administrative and has no bearing on the actual curriculum [a student] is pursuing.” 

Instead of Communications existing as a part of the larger English department, the major now exists within the department of Modern Languages and Interdisciplinary Studies. On their own, the Modern Languages branch of the department gives MCLA students the opportunity to study a foreign language, currently either Spanish or Italian, while the Interdisciplinary Studies branch allows a student to essentially create their own unique major or curriculum path, completing this task by taking courses across different disciplines in order to gain a diverse amount of knowledge and experience.

As stated by Finch, the college made this aforementioned administrative decision in order to, “help develop a more robustly “interdisciplinary” approach to Communications, and to Journalism in particular.” The study of the Communications on its own is quite interdisciplinary and diverse in its learnings, for students studying Communications at MCLA not only learn how to interview and write, but they also learn how to take notes, utilize photo and video editing software, research and prioritize empirical information, photograph and engage in videography, use social media effectively, and build websites and portfolios among many other diverse skills and knowledge. 

To state that Communications is simply a branch of English is to simplify the field, ignoring all its unique facets and possibilities. Though Communications does possess many similarities with the English department, it is also a logical decision to place it under the Interdisciplinary umbrella. Like the Interdisciplinary approach of combining multiple disciplines and/or subjects to create a major/interest unique to each student, the Communications major allows its students to learn a variety of methods for researching, discussing, and sharing information. In addition to this change, the Philosophy major will now exist within the English department, which was previously part of the previously mentioned Modern Languages and Interdisciplinary Studies department.

Soon, the Communications faculty will be located at 100 Porter St, while students can locate the Philosophy faculty alongside the English faculty at 60 Porter St. In Finch’s email to students, he solidifies that the academic experience for English and/or Communications students will not be affected, as it is a change that solely affects the administration of the college, rather than any form of curriculum. 

If students have any questions regarding the split of these departments, they can feel free to contact Finch at [email protected].

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Angelina Clark, Web Editor

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