Mission and Values

Mission

The Department of Communication at the University of Washington is committed to rigorous, relevant scholarship that speaks to public challenges and promotes social progress. We foster and teach equitable and ethical communicative practices in an intellectually diverse, innovative, and interdisciplinary environment.

Vision

Communication is foundational to our political, cultural, and economic systems; our interpersonal relationships; and to the constitution of our individual and collective identities in an increasingly diverse and globalized world. The ability to connect, communicate, and collaborate on issues and ideas has never been more critical. As such, Communication as a field of study has never been more relevant, with partisan rhetoric dominating the news; social media and data analytics reshaping public life; seismic paradigm shifts transforming journalism and politics; and our personal, familial, and community interactions facing new challenges. Our department is a leader in the field for relevant, engaged scholarship that advances our discipline, prepares our students for a changing professional and civic landscape, and fosters connections within and outside the academy. We share the University of Washington’s commitment to “being public,” and we embrace our role as global citizens, rooted in a dynamic local community.

Our mission and vision are informed by the following core values:

Engaged, public scholarship:

Engaged, public scholarship is a centerpiece of our department’s scholarly identity. Our faculty’s research and teaching are often in collaboration with members of the community, and we are committed to making the fruits of our academic inquiry broadly accessible and applicable to venues beyond the halls of the university or the pages of scholarly journals. At UW Communication, we believe that scholarship, at its best, is academically rigorous, socially relevant, and publicly accessible.

An integrated perspective:

UW Communication prides itself on being an interdisciplinary, multifaceted department that brings together scholars from a variety of backgrounds to offer a wide array of approaches to communication research and pedagogy. Established in 2002 through the merger of the former Department of Speech Communication and the School of Communications, the UW Communication Department is rooted in humanistic, critical, and social science traditions. It includes academic emphases on communication technology and society; rhetoric; global communication; journalism; communication and difference; political communication; and interpersonal interaction. This broad and inclusive scholarly community stands out in the field, as it integrates scholarly traditions which, at other U.S. institutions, are typically housed in separate units. Our integrated approach positions our department at the forefront of an emerging trend in higher-education: bringing multiple perspectives to bear on a shared object of study. At UW Communication, we believe our intellectual diversity is our strength.

Ethics and equity:

Communication is critical to establishing and maintaining an equitable, just society. It also plays a central role in creating and perpetuating the stereotypes, biases, and structures that contribute to injustice. Our research analyzes the ways communication—its practices, institutions, content, and tools—can present roadblocks to, and obscure opportunities for, social justice and democratic governance. It also explores how ethical communication practices and equitable communication systems have the power to overcome those obstacles and to promote inclusion, mutual respect, and opportunities. Our teaching foregrounds our commitment to training students to interact meaningfully with others, to assess the veracity and cultural assumptions of mediated texts, and to weigh the ethical implications of the information systems and industries that shape our world. At UW Communication, we believe that ethical, equitable communication is fundamental to a just society.