Communications – Albright College


Innovation, adaptation and change are hallmarks of the communications industries. News organizations shift publication philosophies to address digital platform preferences, altering practices in terms of deadlines, timing, format, graphics and skill sets. Corporations communicate directly with a variety of audiences through social and digital media, and not just to sell products — consumers want to know about corporate social responsibility initiatives, local resource use and fair employment practices, among other things. Nonprofit organizations tap into traditional and digital media to connect to donors and volunteers and provide mission-critical outreach.

Even with all this change, strong basic communications skills reign. Effective communication practices are key to providing information to the public as well as understanding information provided and developing habits of good citizens.

Through course work and applied projects, Albright Communications students:

  • Communicate messages effectively
  • Develop an understanding of Communication and Media as a discipline
  • Understand and apply theory
  • Cultivate insights about media’s role in social issues
  • Become familiar with media as an industry
  • Gather and critically assess information form a variety of sources
  • Foster self-reflective, engaging and socially responsible communication behaviors

Katherine J. Lehman, Ph.D.
Chair, Associate Professor of Communications


Jon Bekken, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication; Faculty Advisor, The Albrightian


Heidi Mau, Ph.D., M.F.A.
Assistant Professor of Communications; Faculty Advisor - Albright Arts Magazine


Jose Aviles, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communications

The Department of Communications offers conceptual and practical coursework and projects in a small, engaged community, developing effective, responsible, socially aware communicators.

We will guide you through courses and projects to develop a thoughtful and strategic approach to communications with an emphasis on hands-on applied projects to practice newly learned skills and gain insight on the impact of messaging.

Learn outside the classroom with The AlbrightianAlbright A.M.; Campus Radio News; or the College’s radio station, WXAC-FM.

The Communications major prepares you for careers in media and professional communications in a variety of corporate, government and non-profit settings, and for advanced study in the discipline.

Choose the Journalism track or Public Relations & Advertising Communications track, or opt for the Digital Communications Major.

Requirements for the Journalism Track

Core Courses:

COM 250 Media & Society (General Studies Foundations-Social Sciences)
COM 260 Critical/Cultural Media Studies (General Studies Foundations-Humanities)
COM 320 Media Law and Freedom of Expression
COM 321 Media History (Connections-Humanities)
COM 333 Internship
COM 390 Multimedia Writing
COM 480 Senior Seminar in Communication Research

Journalism Track Courses:

COM 219 Magazine & Feature Writing
COM 222 Newswriting
COM 315 Community Reporting
COM 316 Editing and Publishing in a Digital Era

Three Electives, at least two of which must be from Communications, from: COM 230, COM 240, COM255, COM280, COM283, COM317, COM327, COM383, ART216, ART 265, DIG201, DIG301, DIG315, HIS207, PHI203, SOC331

Requirements for the Public Relations & Advertising Communications Track

Core Courses:

COM 250 Media & Society (General Studies Foundations-Social Sciences)
COM 260 Critical/Cultural Media Studies (General Studies Foundations-Humanities)
COM 320 Media Law and Freedom of Expression
COM 321 Media History (Connections-Humanities)
COM 333 Internship
COM 390 Multimedia Writing
COM 480 Senior Seminar in Communication Research

Public Relations & Advertising Communication Track Courses:

COM 317 Campaign Planning
COM 327 Writing for Public Relations & Advertising
COM 337 Public Relations & Advertising Research
Four Electives, at least three of which must be from Communications, from: COM219, COM 222, COM 230, COM 240, COM255, COM280, COM283, COM316, COM383, ART216, ART265, DIG201, DIG301, DIG315, HIS207, PHI150, PHI203, SOC331

Requirements for the Communications Co-Majors

Core Courses:

COM 250 Media & Society (General Studies Foundations-Social Sciences)
COM 260 Critical/Cultural Media Studies (General Studies Foundations-Humanities)
COM 320 Media Law and Freedom of Expression OR COM 321 Media History (Connections-Humanities)
COM 480 Senior Seminar in Communication Research

Track Courses

Journalism: COM 222, COM 315 and one of the following: COM 219, COM 316, COM 390

Public Relations & Advertising Communication: COM 317, COM 327, COM 337

One Communications Elective

Strategic Communications Minor (5 courses)


COM 317
COM 327

Three from the following list:

COM 230
COM 250
COM 337
DIG 265
DIG 325

Media Studies Minor (5 courses)

COM 250
COM 260
DIG 265

Two from the following list:
COM 183
COM 240
COM 280
COM 283
COM 320
COM 321
COM 383
WGS 220

Journalism Minor (5 courses):
COM 222
COM 321

Three from the following list:
COM 219
COM 315
COM 316
COM 390

COM 210 Uncovering Fashion What is fashion—and how does fashion “happen”? In this course, students will learn how fashion gets created; how Western fashion has been adopted historically across the globe; how and why elements of historical costumes from various countries become woven into designers’ runway creations; and how styles are expressed and adopted today, with special attention to the interdependencies between specific countries, particularly in relation to the role of media (fashion communication). General Studies Connections Global Humanities

COM 219 Magazine & Feature Writing Practice in planning, research, reporting, writing and marketing nonfiction articles to general and specialized magazines, newspapers and online publications.

COM 222 Writing for the Mass Media Introduction to the fundamentals of gathering and preparing information for print, online and broadcast news media: information gathering, story structure, news style, and writing compelling stories.

COM 250 Media and Society Examination of the historical, social, economic, cultural and political influences that have shaped present-day mass communication and the effects of media industries, contents and processes on contemporary society. Survey of mass communication theories and the interaction of media and society.

COM 255 Desktop Publishing An introduction to designing and creating publications using Adobe InDesign and related programs, as well as an introduction to the theory and practice of designing and producing a variety of publications (from advertisements and business cards to newsletters and magazines) from conception to final product.

COM 260 Communication Theories This course introduces students to communication as a discipline and provides opportunities to explore the intersection of semiotics and digital media.  Through an examination of the emergence of the discipline, students will learn the basic concepts, language and analytical tools and perspectives employed in the field of study. General Studies Foundations-Humanities

COM 280 Latin American Media Students explore the interplay between culture and media, becoming immersed in local Ecuadorian media and daily life, attending classes and completing an informal mini-ethnography of host family media use and analyzing media.   Readings, discussions, tours, and local excursions and lectures are led by local media professionals, academics and indigenous peoples. Students attend Spanish language classes geared toward their proficiency level, from 101 to advanced. Student projects focus on a particular site of the intersection of culture and media – such as images in advertising, religion & media, domestic cinema, media ownership, regional differences. This course requires an additional fee and international travel. General Studies Connections Global Humanities

COM 283 Special Topics in Communications Courses are offered on an occasional basis according to instructors’ and students’ needs. Recent topics have included fashion writing and health communication.

COM 315 Public Affairs Reporting Advanced reporting and writing techniques, with an emphasis on local, county, and state reporting on government, politics, courts and business. Practice in investigative reporting, information gathering skills, use of federal and state Freedom of Information Acts, and so forth. Rights and responsibilities of public communicators. Prerequisite: COM 222

COM 316 Editing and Print Production Editing, design and layout of print and online publication. Course introduces desktop publishing technologies, develops editorial plan and prototypes, and practices techniques of news evaluation, copy editing, headline writing, picture editing, illustration and editorial strategy. Prerequisite: COM 222

COM 317 Public Relations and Advertising Campaign Planning Introduction to the theory, principles and practices of advertising and public relations through the campaign planning process. Students explore market research, strategic planning, targeted message design, and media selection and scheduling. Study of the influences of advertising and public relations and the role and responsibilities of advertising and public relations practitioners.

COM 320 The System of Free Expression The system of free expression, legal doctrines of political and commercial speech, press freedom and censorship. Study of the legal rights and constraints of mass communications industries, including print, broadcast, cable and online media, advertising and public relations. Pre-requisite: COM250

COM 321 Media History A survey of the history of American mass media from a historical perspective, with an emphasis upon their social, political and economic environments. General Studies Connections-Humanities

COM 327 Public Relations Writing In this course, students will build public relations writing skills through hands-on practice crafting public relations pieces such as press releases, brochures, radio spots and newsletters. Students will also gain experience in basic print design and layout techniques. Through classroom instruction and lab experience, students will come to understand the basic writing and production skills needed to enter the public relations field. Prerequisite: COM 222 or COM317

COM 333 Practicum in Communication Supervised internships with newspapers, broadcasting stations, and advertising and public relations agencies. Prerequisite: COM 222 or 317

COM 337 Public Relations & Advertising Research This applied research course focuses on consumer and market research that are used in today’s public relations and advertising industries to plan and evaluate creative campaigns. Students will explore audience segmentation, media audience measurement and profiles, surveys, focus groups and concept testing. Prerequisite: COM 317

COM 383 Special Topics in Communications Courses are offered on a regular basis according to instructors’ and students’ needs. Recent topics have included gender and mass media, citizen journalism, and multimedia reporting.

COM 390 Multiplatform Writing In this advanced writing course students apply writing and design skills and concepts across a variety of media – including print, broadcast, and online venues – in journalism, public relations, and advertising contexts. Audience analysis and aesthetics are key component of this course, which incorporates service learning portfolio-building elements. Prerequisite: COM222 and one 300-level writing course

COM 480 Senior Seminar in Mass Communication Research Students are introduced to the role of theory in shaping research studies and interpreting their findings, and explore a variety of research methods commonly used in the field, including experimental, survey, content analysis, focus groups, case studies, and ethnography. Students develop a research question, conduct a literature review, and design an original research study. Prerequisite: Senior standing, COM 250, COM260


Digital Courses

ART 265
Computer Graphics Art and Design
Computer Graphics is a combined studio/lecture course providing instruction in the use of industry-standard digital media tools. Students learn from the perspective of an artist and designer the essentials of digital still image creation, graphic design and digital animation. This course not only provides students with a strong technical foundation, but it also introduces students to the concepts intrinsic to art and design in the digital age.

DIG 201
Digital Video

This hands-on course introduces students to the concepts and technological knowledge that support the fields of digital video, script writing, lighting and non-linear editing. Students work individually and in groups on a series of short video productions using Premiere Pro, an industry standard editing and special effects software package. Cinematic history, aesthetic philosophy and key applications are taught through class demonstrations, exercises and lectures. Digital skills and a personal vocabulary are developed further through class critiques and individual instruction. Prerequisite: ART 265

DIG 265
Digital Literacy

This course introduces students to the concepts and technological news driving digital media. Students investigate the new aesthetic tradition inherent in digital culture, gaming, instant messaging, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, digital design and the Internet. Digital history, aesthetic philosophy, and key applications are examined through class lecture and studio projects. Students are expected to consider these concerns while formulating their work. In-class critiques and individual instruction are used to refine student work. Prerequisite: ART 265

DIG 270
Digital Illustration and Design

This course will cover the use of art and design as creative tools in mass communications and art media. Through creative design projects and discussions/critiques, students will create raster and vector imagery to populate original print-ready designs. Upon completion of the course students will have technical skills (Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator) sufficient to design, illustrate and professionally package press ready projects, as well as understand design, composition and conceptual integration of text and imagery. Prerequisite: ART 265

DIG 301
Digital Video II

This course is an opportunity for serious video students to hone their skills as an editor, director and cinematographer through the development of ambitious projects. Sound and cinematography are integrated into the concepts inherent in their productions. The screen functions as an immersive, temporal canvas where students in Digital Video II develop their green screening techniques and integrate special effects software into their productions. The primary software in Digital Video II includes the advanced application of Premiere Pro with After Effects. Students are expected to write, storyboard, edit and shoot their productions. Outcomes of the course consist of work to be included in student portfolios for graduate school and potential employment, as well as the ability to critically think about their work in relationship to other artists and in relationship to their own objectives as an artist and filmmaker in the digital age. Prerequisite: DIG 201

DIG 315
Web Design

This class integrates Macromedia Flash MX with other applications resulting in web-based design and animation for online distribution. This course aids students in the development of their work within a professional standard emphasizing the concept of form and function. Students are taught appropriate history, aesthetic philosophy and key applications through class lecture and studio projects. They are expected to consider these concerns while formulating their work. In-class critiques and individual instruction are used to refine student work. Prerequisite: ART 265

DIG 325
Visual Design for the Web

This course explores the web from a visual design and effective communications perspective. Students will engage the history and aesthetics of web design, and apply design principles to the creation and maintenance of their own website within a commercial content management system. Students will explore aspects of digital design particular to web and online use through lecture and discussion, in-class engagements, and applied projects. The course may additionally consider and incorporate the uses of web, social media, and other digital online tools as modes of visual communication, promotion, and expression. Prerequisite: ART265

DIG 370
Design II

Through an increased emphasis on design layouts incorporating text, and a focus on the history and application of typography, this course will build upon the student’s previous explorations of illustration and design as creative expression and visual communication. Students will work toward better design thinking and application through engagement with multiple design projects, small group critiques, and immersive reading, discussion, and reflection. Access to digital tools such as Adobe CC are provided and will be used toward for the completion of design projects in this course. As an advanced-level design course, students will be expected to work more quickly and gain skills more independently than in previous design courses. Students will need to spend additional time outside of class sessions in order to complete projects at the level expected for this course.

DIG 420
Senior Seminar
This course is meant as a rite of passage from an undergraduate student to a professional working in the field or a scholar and artist pursuing graduate studies. The faculty works closely with students in the creation of a portfolio showcasing each student’s work while demonstrating aesthetic and critical thinking. Writing assignments, resume´ construction and art and design coursework augment the senior seminar experience. Students must utilize all their talents, creative thinking, and honed craft when creating work for group critiques.

What Can I do With a Major in Communications?

Student-produced Media

The Albrightian is our student-produced newspaper and is staffed entirely by student writers, editors, photographers, photographers and designers who come together for the collaborative effort of informing the Albright community through traditional and social media. Funded by the Student Government Association.

In 2007 Albright A.M. was founded by Communications majors who needed a creative space, a focus on the arts, and new opportunities to develop magazine publishing skills. Entirely student-produced, Albright A.M. features concerts, fashion shows, musicians, theater, photography and more. Funded by the Student Government Association.

Albright College radio station, WXAC 91.3 FM, is a nonprofit, student-run organization that bases its philosophy on education, entertainment and diversity. From these basic concepts, WXAC helps train students in broadcasting operations and fosters communication and life skills. WXAC also presents an alternative to commercial radio by acting as a forum for music, poetry and the arts. The station disseminates information relevant to and important for the Albright community and beyond, and provides Reading’s Latino community with a non-biased, non-commercial Spanish-language platform.

All Communications student pitch and produce radio news segments for Campus Radio News, airing on WXAC weekly. This department-wide outreach and active learning initiative will focus you on the development of a variety of skills and talents while providing important programming for our College radio station.