Santa Clara University


Communication News & Events

Communication News & Events

  •  Student Social Justice Documentaries

    Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015

    Yahia Mahamdi described his work with student documentarians in an article published in Teaching Media Quarterly. He details how he helps students engage with the community through the films they create in his courses.

    “In my experience, social justice organizations are in general open to working with students whose projects are supervised by an instructor,” he wrote. “The way I approach local organizations involves research to identify institutions and groups who are active in the community and who may be willing to collaborate with us.”
    Mahamdi’s students worked with a variety of organizations to cover a broad range of topics. They collaborated with The Katharine and George Alexander Law Center, an organization which provides free legal counsel to low-income workers and immigrants, for a film dealing with immigrant rights and human trafficking. Another film profiled wrongfully convicted people who have been exonerated with help from the Northern California Innocence Project.
    Read the article here.
  •  The Lives of International Students

    Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015

    Gordon Young investigated the cultural and economic impact of a record number of international students who are studying in Flint, Michigan, for the Education Life section of The New York Times. The transition from life in Saudi Arabia or India or Jamaica to a struggling, Rust Belt city can be jarring, but in the process students said they developed a deeper, more clear-eyed understanding of the real America, and experienced an unanticipated sense of community. Read the story here.

  •  Internships, Happiness, and the Big Leagues

    Monday, Oct. 12, 2015

    Professor SunWolf is teaching Communication 100A: The Science of Happiness. On the second day of class, she gives each student a purple no-complaint bracelet, which they are told to wear continuously for 21 days. This is part of the now viral Complaint-Free Movement, started by a minister, Will Bowan, who challenged his congregants to stop complaining.

    Studies show that to change a habit, it is necessary to string together 21 days of the behavior you want to start (or stop). While Professor SunWolf’s students would not have time to string 21 complaint-free days together — it took Reverend Bowan six months to do that himself — they are challenged to journal each day and string together as many complaint-free days as they can as they study the toxic effects of social complaining on happiness.

    Peter Summerville is taking the class and interning for Gabe Kapler, a former Major League Baseball player who is now a health and fitness guru. Kapler publishes a popular blog, and he gave Peter a chance to create a guest post that touched on the course. Peter wrote:

    "You may be asking yourself what the point is. The major by-product of not complaining is happiness. I don’t think I am re-inventing the wheel when I say that complaining is a serious factor affecting moods and happiness in all people.

    "One of the most rewarding parts for me has been writing in my journal every night about my complaints. Through my writing, I note and accept my mistakes, but also consider the reasons why other people are complaining, so that I can learn from others. I like the personal evaluation I have given myself, and I have learned a lot about when others tend to complain."

    Read the entire post here.

  •  Deciding on a Major

    Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015

    SFGate recently tracked the most popular majors at San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities. Communication made the top five at Santa Clara University: Finance, Biology, Psychology, Communication, Computer Science and Engineering.

  •  Student Spotlight: Mallory Miller

    Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015

    Mallory Miller is the winner of the 2013-2014 Edward Shipsey, S.J., Journalism Prize. Established in 1984 by Alfred Orr Kelly in honor of Edward J. Shipsey, S.J., this prize is awarded to the outstanding student who has made a commitment to a career in journalism.

    Mallory, a senior double majoring in Communication and Environmental studies, is a veteran of The Santa Clara student newspaper, where she started as a reporter, became the news editor, and is now the managing editor. She has covered a variety of topics with skill and determination, including the police beat, business and technology, and breaking news across campus. She also works closely with the online editor to create digital content for the newspaper website.

    Mallory is currently interning at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, where she reports and writes feature stories.

    Past Shipsey prize winners include Kurt Wagner, an associate editor who covers social media at Re/code; Jeremy Herb, a defense reporter at Politico; and Melissa Segura, a staff writer at Sports Illustrated.

  •  A new film combats sexual violence on college campuses

    Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2015

    Santa Clara University hosted a limited premiere in January of its film Can’t Thread a Moving Needle, a pioneering artistic creation to combat sexual violence in college settings. Financed by a $150,000 grant from the AVON Foundation for Women, the movie represents diverse points of view on the subject gathered across the country through interviews with victims, survivors, perpetrators, friends, counselors, professors, attorneys and activists. The premiere was followed by a Q&A period with the filmmakers -- producer, co-directors and screenwriter.

    This project is the result of close collaboration between the Office of Student Life, faculty from the Communication Department, the Department of Theatre and Dance, and many organizations across campus. Can’t Thread a Moving Needle is the screen adaptation of the play by the same name written by Theatre Professor Barbara Means Fraser. “Santa Clara has been proactive in the area of sexual abuse education and prevention for a while. We had been doing the play every year for first-year students beginning in 2008, but producing it every year was labor-intensive and expensive. The film is intended to be a more efficient way of delivering the experience to the students,” said Professor Fraser.

    Matthew Duncan, Associate Dean for Student Life at Santa Clara University and executive producer of the film, sees the movie as “the anchor point for something that lives, breathes and evolves over time.” A key element to this is the companion website that will host the film as a whole or in sections organized by theme to facilitate its discussion during first-year orientation and in any setting where the subject is appropriate. “Since faculty will be able to incorporate this new resource into their courses, our students may watch the movie, or parts of it, multiple times over their careers here. We need to own this issue, and we need to do a better job in discussing this subject in a safe and challenging way”, said Mr. Duncan. 

    Shooting of the film occurred on the Santa Clara University campus during the summer of 2014. Twenty-one undergraduate students interned as the production crew for professionals working as Director of Photography, Sound, Lighting, Makeup, Producer and Directors. The actors were all professionals culled from an open audition, some of whom are Santa Clara University alumni from the Department of Theatre and Dance. Communication Associate Professor Michael Whalen, producer and co-director of the film, insisted that all hired professionals work hand-in-hand with undergraduates as a way to enhance student engagement and enrichment. Both the artistic and social justice aspects of the project were important parts of the educational experience for students. “Being part of a Jesuit university also means taking a stance on a difficult subject, identifying what is wrong, and then fixing it. I am proud of what Santa Clara is doing, and I hope that more colleges follow suit,” declared Associate Professor Whalen. 

    Veronika Olah ’04, who majored in Theatre Arts and worked on stage production while at Santa Clara, was tapped by Professor Fraser to participate in the movie. "It was an incredible experience to come back to Santa Clara ten years later to play a college student. SCU played a huge role in opening my eyes to the world around me as well as the responsibility we have to use our passions to work for positive change. I love that as an alumna, I still feel such a part of the SCU community. When I found out about this film, I knew I just had to be a part of it," said Veronika, currently working in the Entertainment Department of Disneyland Resort, and as an actor with the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, SAG-AFTRA. 

    Many universities and organizations across the nation have expressed interest in the film, including the national network of 27 Jesuit universities and the UCLA Health Center, which works directly with 20 state universities, and a network of colleges and universities in the state of South Dakota. All interested institutions will receive the film free of charge, as established by the terms of the grant. The film is slated for general release later this spring.  

  •  Faculty Feats: Chad Raphael

    Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

    At a time when political gridlock has paralyzed Washington and left many Americans wondering if there is any way to tackle complex national issues, Communication Prof. Chad Raphael points to civic forums as way to break deadlock and rejuvenate democracy. 

    Raphael examines the role forums can play in Deliberation, Democracy, and Civic Forums (Cambridge University Press), a book he co-authored with Christopher F. Karpowitz, co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy and associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University.

    “Our research identifies many successful examples of political deliberation in well-designed forums where citizens and officials engage in give-and-take discussion and arrive at solutions. These forums have developed ‘participatory budgets’ in many cities, energy policy in Texas and Nebraska, community policing in Chicago and much more,” Karpowitz and Raphael wrote in a recent CNN editorial. “Some of these forums are healing the rotting roots of democracy.”

  •  Faculty Feats: Gordon Young

    Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014

    Communication Senior Lecturer and author Gordon Young is doing his part to fight blight in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. He raised more than $11,000 in crowdsource funding to tear down a vacant, decaying home that attracted squatters and drug users on Parkbelt Drive in the city. The surrounding neighborhood is comprised of homes that have been well-kept by hard-working families.

    "This is really a testament to all the care the residents of Parkbelt Drive have put into their homes and their block," Young said. "They may not be able to influence the corporate decisions or U.S. trade policies that contributed to the layoffs that damaged Flint so profoundly, but they are doing everything they can to preserve their neighborhood. I'm glad I could help them out in some small way."

    More than 150 people donated to the Indiegogo campaign. The idea came from Young’s book Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City that explores the struggle of Flint residents after General Motors eliminated more than 70,000 jobs in the city. Thousands of abandoned houses still attract crime, depress property values, and destabilize neighborhoods. He says he discovered pockets of hope where people refused to abandon the city his family called home for four generations.

    “Flint is on the edge of an important turning point that I’m happy to take part in,” Young said. “Despite heartbreaking conditions, people are fighting back and taking pride in their neighborhoods. It’s an important reminder that community is ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.”

    Crews tore down the house November 11 as neighbors cheered. Paulette Mayfield, who grew up in the house next door, plans to adopt the vacant lot through a city program and maintain it.

    Learn more about the project here.

  •  Faculty Feats: Lisa Davis

    Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014

    In the November 2014 issue of California Lawyer, adjunct lecturer Lisa Davis examines the legal landscape of Airbnb, the San Francisco company that connects potential guests online with private lodging in cities around the world.

    “Around the globe, travelers and property owners by the thousands are using short-term rental websites like Airbnb,” Davis writes. “The idea of ‘home sharing’ has zealous devotees: It's often hailed as the only thing standing between hosts and homelessness, as a way to empower the little guy in a corporate world, and as a path to better cultural understanding, one traveler at a time — all of which might actually be true. But home sharing is testing new ground in the courts, local governments, and housing markets. It tests zoning and landlord-tenant laws, as well as the patience of many neighbors, and it is helping to reshape the nation's most competitive housing markets.”

    Davis teaches journalism courses in the Communication Department. She is a freelance writer and author of The Sins of Brother Curtis: A Story of Betrayal, Conviction, and the Mormon Church

    (Illustration by Randy Lyhus, courtesy of California Lawyer)

  •  Student Spotlight: Senior Thesis Students

    Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

    Dr. Katharine Heintz is supervising a group of 20 seniors who are completing their thesis project on the topic of Family Communication in the Digital Age. The students designed an online survey and administered it to pupils in several sixth-grade classrooms around the South Bay Area. Working in two-person teams, they will analyze the collected data for evidence of relationships between family communication styles, children's media use, family rules about technology, and children's interpersonal communication competence. Some teams will be exploring gender and racial differences in these variables. Once their reports are complete, some teams will present their findings to fellow SCU undergrads, while others will return to the sixth-grade classrooms and discuss their findings with the students.