The Department of Communication provides a strong foundation in human communication theories and practices. Our program emphasizes multicultural team and community building in a personalized learning environment. The program emphasizes multicultural perspectives, authentic communication, valuing diversity, professional and personal empowerment, and enhanced self-awareness. Students develop oral, written, group, interpersonal, intercultural, and organizational communication skills that prepare them for leadership and citizenship in a diverse civil democratic society.
The mission of the Communication Department is guided by the assumption that culture permeates every level of communication. Consequently, our mission is to:
- explore and promote diverse theories and perspectives related to communication;
- facilitate practical skills for effective communication in multicultural contexts;
- develop leaders that can relate to global and local cultures;
- cultivate healthy individuals, relationships, organizations, and communities;
- promote dialogue among diverse individuals, communities, and organizations.
The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is characterized as a comprehensive, diverse, regional university. Scholarship and research are an important part of faculty work and student engagement, but the primary focus is on providing high-quality baccalaureate and postgraduate education.
Communication and Culture Emphasis
Located in one of the most diverse areas of the world, our program places the relationship between culture and communication at the center of our curriculum. Our program has a special emphasis on communication and culture as they influence and are influenced by wisdom, context, process, and community.
Wisdom: All cultures have accumulated indigenous wisdom and information that provide valuable insights on the relationship between humanity and communication. Consequently, our department is committed to the advancement of diverse theoretical standpoints. We explore both traditional and non-traditional theories of communication. We seek to provide students with a wide range of communication models and concepts that they can meaningfully relate to their diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences.
Context: Given UH Hilo’s unique location, our department especially aims to broaden and deepen our students’ understanding of communication in Pacific-Asian contexts. We strive to encourage students to continually consider the role that context plays in organizational, professional, interpersonal, and media communication. Additionally, we foster the ability to respect, adapt to, bridge, change, translate, and transcend this context, as is appropriate.
Process: As the metaphor of “island laboratory” indicates, our department encourages students to experience the multicultural aspects of Hawaiʻi. We believe that seeing local events in the global context and globalization in the local context is an important asset of a world citizen in the 21st century. Culture can be a contested zone that generates conflicting views and clashes of opinions. Conflict, however, also opens up the possibility of dialogue.
Community: Communication and culture work together in the formation of communities. In an “ideal” multicultural community, human dialogue overshadows monologue, and connection replaces fragmentation. Our program encourages multicultural team-building, community-building, and dialogue. Further, our program seeks to empower our students as facilitators of intercultural dialogue.
Student Experiences in Our Programs
We seek to empower our students by facilitating the development of skills that encourage replacing monologue with dialogue, fragmentation with connection. Students are encouraged to develop projects relevant to their personal and professional goals. They develop the talents and skills necessary to succeed as leaders and change agents in a wide variety of settings.
Prospects for Graduates
The ability to communicate effectively in diverse contexts is highly desirable. In a report on the fastest growing careers, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that communication skills will be in demand well into the 21st century. When 1,000 faculty members from a cross-section of disciplines were asked to identify basic competencies for every college graduate, communication skills topped the list. Executives with Fortune 500 companies indicate the college students need better communication skills that include the ability to work in teams and with people from diverse backgrounds.
With its multicultural emphasis, our program provides a foundation for students to pursue graduate study of careers in education, business, counseling, social or human services, the media, journalism, law, public relations, health care, organizational management, community development, performance, or in any other field where intercultural communication competence is crucial.
Our Faculty and Staff
We are your academic ʻohana. We teach the vast majority of courses, using best practices from education research.