Understanding the Name Communicology
The Communicology Department was called the Department of Speech for the better part of three decades. Three decades ago, the faculty and curriculum of the Department were indeed consistent with what is traditionally considered a speech program. The last two decades were a period of evolution for the Department wherein the faculty, research, and curriculum no longer emphasized oral communication or rhetoric; rather, a program on exploring other facets of human communication slowly grew over time.
Faculty in the Department decided the name Speech no longer reflected the evolving focus of the program and decided to pursue a name change to something that accurately and precisely reflected the state of the Department. Because the name “Communication” is used so generically in the field to cover everything from rhetorical composition to communobiology and neuro-linguistics, the name lost precision in its application. For twenty years, the faculty and students searched for a name that best served to market or brand the Department to prospective students and employers of our students with a high level of precision.
We decided that our focus on developing theory and research on the process of communication, particularly human communication, warranted a name that reflected that focus. Because the suffix ‘ology’ indicates an area of study, a branch of knowledge, faculty opted to pursue the name Department of Communicology. Although the name has not yet been used by any other department in the U.S., Department members saw no disadvantage in opting to be the first to use it. The name was well-received by students and alumni of the Department as indicated in a climate survey. In the spring of 2011, Chancellor Hinshaw accepted Department’s change proposal. The Department hopes the name Communicology will be adopted by other departments that share the same focus for the study of human communication from a social scientific approach, and we will serve as the epicenter for a growth in the nominal precision of defining communication departments.