The PhD program in Communication, Information and Library Studies provides doctoral training for students seeking theoretical and research skills for scholarly and professional leadership in the fields of communication, library and information science, journalism and media studies. The unique combination of communication, information, and media in a single program helps prepare students in the 21st century to address key questions in our society. The program focuses on the nature and function of communication, information and media institutions, policies, processes and systems—and their impact on individuals as well as social, organizational, national, and international affairs. Interdisciplinary approaches to these issues are encouraged in the program. With approximately 50 faculty members and 110 students currently enrolled, the program fosters intellectual autonomy and excitement while ensuring sound process and thriving apprenticeship.
The PhD Newsletter for 2013-2014 can be found here.
The PhD Newsletter for 2012-2013 can be found here.
The PhD Newsletter for 2011-2012 can be found here.
Announcements and Features
After she discovered the field in college, she was hooked. PhD student Marie Haverfield did not intend to major in communication, but it quickly became her passion and has resulted in a successful career, and ultimately, led her to Rutgers.
“It wasn't until after taking a few courses that I recognized the power of communication and how it operates at the core of almost everything we do,” said Haverfield.
Today, Haverfield is working on her dissertation and will teach two courses this fall, Introduction to Communication and Information Processes and a hybrid section of Public Speaking. Her dissertation project looks at communication between parent and child and how that corresponds to a child’s resilience. Specifically, she is looking at the communication in families of alcoholics and resilience of children with alcoholic parents.
Haverfield’s initial attraction to the field and recognition of its critical importance originally stemmed from her personal experience. She said, “As the oldest child in a single parent family, I was called upon to carry out responsibilities that might typically go to the other parent. Communication was key to being in this role and crucial for maintaining a functional household. So, it was from early on that I realized the importance of communication.”
Haverfield became interested in health and family communication after college, and later, become interested in interpersonal communication while pursuing her master’s degree.
Haverfield is currently collecting data for her dissertation. She explains, “I am using several markers of resilience, including emotion regulation, self-efficacy and impulsivity. I am also asking the parent and child to take part in a brief interaction based on two topics the adolescent wishes to discuss. Communication in the interaction will be coded using Baumrind's parenting styles typology and Gottman's Emotion Regulation Theory.
“Self-efficacy and impulsivity will be assessed through self-report and observation, and emotion regulation will be assessed through self-report, observation and heart rate variability. Heart rate variability is one type of biological measure of resilience. I'm excited about the project and believe that my research can speak to ways that families facing adverse circumstances can effectively communicate to bolster child resilience.”
After many years in the field, Haverfield has developed important insight into its challenges and offers great advice to undergraduates either majoring in communication or thinking about it. She advises, “Ignore the naysayers because a degree in communication can carry over into many fields. During and after my undergraduate program, I worked in advertising, then I worked at Universal Music and Capitol Records, then I went into teaching, and now I'm here — all with a degree in communication. In comparison to other fields, communication is young. There is a lot of work to be done and some of the latest research suggests the field has a very bright future.”
Post graduation from Rutgers, Haverfield will search for a tenure-track position at a research university, and perhaps return to the west coast with her family (she grew up in California). In the meantime, she is enjoying Rutgers. When applying for graduate schools, Haverfield said she looked at many universities, but Rutgers was her first choice. She notes she was attracted to the Resource for Alcohol Studies and the exceptional faculty here, and she is very happy it all worked out.
“I love the versatility of what I do, teaching and research. It's never a dull moment, I get to interact with a lot of different people, and I feel like the work I'm doing has the potential to make a difference.”
“Since I was a little kid, I always wondered how deep, role-playing worlds were created and developed,” says Ph.D. Candidate Aaron Trammell.
For Trammell, games like “Dungeons and Dragons” were profoundly strategic and meaningful, with “deep arcana and lore contained within them about maintaining and populating fictional worlds.”
His youthful fascination matured into serious academic inquiry and today it is the focus of his dissertation research in the JMS doctoral program. He studies how military techniques and technologies are incorporated into the popular culture through “Dungeons and Dragons” and other role-playing games.
“I feel lucky that by exploring this topic, I am able to help tell the story about how these amazing things did come about,” he says.
Trammell, whose undergraduate and master’s studies in philosophy and comparative literature help to inform his research, says the supportive community of doctoral students has helped him delve more deeply into the social sciences.
“We help each other, and I often find myself relying on them to help explain difficult concepts to me from other fields like communication and sociology,” he says. “It’s the best and most supportive student community here that I can imagine.”
Trammell is an influential contributor to the emerging field of game studies. In 2013, he chaired a two-day international conference entitled, “MediaCon: Extending Play,” which brought 140 attendees to Rutgers “to better understand the intersection of power and play.” Fellow graduate students worked with him to help make it a success, he says.
In addition to teaching undergraduate courses to JMS majors, he’s developed a new course on the theory behind serious game design, which was offered for the first time during the Rutgers 2014 Summer Session.
Trammell also is helping to put another emerging field on the map as co-founder and assistant editor of Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog. “[Sound studies] is all about giving voice to one of our perceptive capacities that is often marginalized,” he explains. “We focus more on what it means to see than what it means to hear.
“This work has led to my fascination with subcultures — cultural communities that are often dismissed and left out of the dialogue about what culture is. I hope to always focus on cultural communities which are founded at the margins of our perception, regardless of whether they are found in the media we listen to or the games we play.”