RCA's panels at the NCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, USA (Nov 2006)
HOPE AT LUTHER, NCA INSTITUTE FOR FACULTY, 2005
AMERICAN COMMUNICATION STUDIES AS AN IMPORTANT PART OF EDUCATION OF A NEW ERA
Olga Kryukova, PhD,
chair of English Philology
Russian State Social University
This summer in July I could participate in the annual NCA seminar at Luther, Iowa. And I want to thank all those people who made it possible : my wonderful hosts - Joe Daily and Alan Lerstrom from NCA and Olga Matyash and Irine Rozina from RCA. It has been a wonderful and useful experience for me.
First, I have been greatly impressed by the atmosphere of dedication to the profession, creativity, insights into teaching , sparkling humor and happiness, among the wonderful colleagues who were with me as teachers and as faculty members of the group. This time five days of seminars were scheduled to present Intercultural studies with Linda Dixon ( Bowling Green State University) as teacher of "Intercultural Communication" , Isa Engelberg from Prince George's Community College, teaching Group Communication, Martin Medhurst from Baylor University ,teaching Presidential Rhetoric and the Art of Leadership, Thomas Socha (Old Dominion University , teaching "Research Methods", Paula Tompkins from St. Cloud State University , teaching "Moral Reasoning and Communication Ethics" , Kathleen Turner (Davidson College) , teaching "Media and Popular Culture". I have also been lucky to meet and to communicate with colleagues - students Pat Lynch, Pat Baker, Pamela Miller, Deborah Uecker, Sheri Bleam , earlier in Rostov I met a wonderful person and teacher Mo Minelli and many others who impressed me with their openness, desire to share experience, ideas, instant grasp of professional problems.
Second, this communication has helped me understand why it is essential to teach these disciplines to students of Russia. During the years before perestroika it was the state in Russia which organized and directed personnel training and character development. With the collapse of the old ideology the state started shifting this responsibility on the individual. This results in a psychological crisis of alienation from society. Teaching communicative disciplines can help overcome this alienation for they have a goal to teach effective social interaction .
American communication studies are a great contribution to the world academic culture. Looking at the development of the attitude to knowledge , its most important component, through the lens of linguistics and semiotics we can see how it has changed. First and basically education teaches the individual his professional knowledge and skills , using the languages of mathematics and profession . Thus the approach to teaching system "from within and for itself" , as F. de Sossure put it, is realized , in terms of sign to sign relationship. The first stage teaches a professional .
The situation has changed with the introduction of communication for it is teaching successful interaction. Education starts teaching the universal language of humanities. And this is already a new stage , sign to man relationship, for communication disciplines are supposed to show how knowledge shapes man's ideas. With the advent of social communication educational system starts training a successful professional.
It can be predicted now that at the next 3d stage of knowledge - managed society education will be using more the omnipotent language of artificial intelligence and cognition, which will make it possible to educate a professional of the man- machine world , with knowledge determining decision making.
What is the role of this process in view of the reform of education in Europe now which is called the Bologna process? American social studies could contribute to the education of an ideal person - a successful individual capable of building his career as man of the world, cooperative, socially responsible , empathetic, wise in terms of his needs , dangers to environment , modest in consumption. It is an important part of modern education of the new era.
The process of teaching communication disciplines has already started in Russia in Volgograd, Saint Petersberg, Tver, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don and other cities on the University level. The trend is changing the existing professional curricula and paving way for a new professional training. Certainly these disciples are undergoing changes , being adapted to the already existing standards in Russia. They are being taught in Russian but sometimes are taught in English. Though much more effort will be needed to develop this initiative in Russia to its full potential let us hope that what we have now is already a good beginning.
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