This article discusses the status of communication studies in higher education. Communication and the discipline of communication are partially defined by the ways in which communication principles and strategies are identified and applied in college and university environments. How administrators and colleagues in other departments conceive of and utilize communication principles and strategies provide feedback to us, revealing their conceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about what communication is and what the study and use of communication involves. These applied communication uses constitute part of the meaning that communication possesses within a college or university environment. Using traditions as academic standards, virtually every one of the essential characteristics now attributed to the discipline of communication would warrant perceiving the discipline simultaneously in both positive and negative terms. First, to the detriment of the discipline, especially in publications of the federal government, communication continues to be viewed as an oral activity rather than a set of complex and interrelated nonverbal and context-bound activities. Second, particularly in learning community environments, communication is frequently viewed as a content-free discipline when solely performance conceptions of the discipline are allowed to dominate. Third, the introduction to communication course is frequently a convenient environment for initiating and developing comprehensive first-year student programs.
Chesebro, J. W., & Worley, D. W. (2000). The discipline of communication in higher education: Mutually defining and reciprocal relationships. Journal of the Association for Communication Administration, 29(1), 26–39.