This article deals with the problem of defining communication studies in higher education. In 1995, the Association for Communication Administration (ACA) convened a summer conference that produced a two-sentence definition of the field of communication. More than 100 conferees voted their unanimous approval of the definition, which was then disseminated nationally and used by communication scholar/teachers for a multiplicity of purposes. Given the potential utility of that definition and the expansion of communication studies since 1995, the present study surveyed ACA's current members to determine whether they are aware the definition exists, how they have used it, and the extent to which they perceive it as representative of communication studies today. The results of that survey are reported in this article, which begins with a description of why and how this definition was originally developed. In a field as diverse and eclectic as communication, a need exists for some commonality of understanding about what constitutes the discipline's subject matter. Such understanding, in the form of a definition, can serve two functions: it can provide a descriptor of the diversity, breadth, and depth of the field itself; and, it can be used to represent the discipline to an external audience, both inside and outside of academe, many of whom may still hold onto the notion that the field is committed only to the practice and study of speech making.
Korn, C. J., Morreale, S. P., & Boileau, D. M. (2000). Defining the field: Revisiting the ACA 1995 definition of communication studies. Journal of the Association for Communication Administration, 29(1), 40–52.