Communication studies explore and analyze the processes of human communication. According to the National Communication Association (NCA), the discipline of communication focuses on how humans use verbal and nonverbal messages to create meaning in various contexts (from two person groups to mass audiences) across cultures using a variety of channels and media. The discipline is especially interested in the impact of those messages on human behavior (NCA, 2018, para 1). Communication studies often focus on the ways in which the three main types of communication—verbal, written, and nonverbal—are interpreted through political, cultural, economic, semiotic, hermeneutic, and social dimensions (Communication Studies, 2018).
Communication studies consists of several subdisciplines, including gender, health, international, intercultural, interpersonal, legal, and political communication, as well as performance studies, public address, communication theory, and electronic media.
Communications professionals often work in fields such as journalism, writing, and editing. They may also find employment in other areas that require specialized communication expertise, such as sales, customer service, management, human resources, corporate communication, and office management.
In Disaster Research
There are a number of subdisciplines of communication studies that can be applied to hazards and disasters research, including risk and crisis communication. The NCA defines risk and crisis communication as “the study of how government agencies and organizations assess and manage risk and crisis situations, and how they communicate the nature of a crisis to stakeholders and members of the public” (NCA, 2018, p. 2). Researchers who work in risk and crisis communication attempt to prevent and mitigate harm from disasters, prepare populations before disasters occur, disseminate information during disasters, and aid subsequent recovery (Bradley, McFarland, & Clarke, 2014).
Bradley, D. T., McFarland, M., & Clarke, M. (2014). The Effectiveness of Disaster Risk Communication: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. PLoS Currents Disasters (1), http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/currents.dis.349062e0db1048bb9fc3a3fa67d8a4f8
Communication Studies. (2018). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_studies
National Communication Association. (2018). Communication as an Academic Discipline. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://www2.mcdaniel.edu/rtrader/handouts/WhatisCommunication/Communication_as_an_Academic_discipline.pdf
CONVERGE is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation, Program on Humans, Disasters, and the Built Environment (Award #1841338). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.