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Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 20, No 2 (1995)

It is also linked to an increasing maturity in the field. This opens up questions such as Whose idea of the curriculum are we talking about? What was the context of the idea? The current part establishes the idea of Communication Studies as a curriculum idea against the backdrop of the literature on the emergence of Australian Communication Studies. The focus on Kuring-gai CAE is not to suggest that it was an absolutely typical institution. The conditions and possibilities in different contexts would vary greatly according to policies and location.

In place of a detailed comparison of different institutional contexts, this piece offers a detailed profile of conditions at a particular institution. Despite the early characterisation of the emergence of the field through the notion of its being a curriculum idea, this has not remained as prominent, powerful, or perhaps as elaborated, as other tropes in accounts of the emergence of the field.

Providing a better picture of curriculum innovation in early Australian Communication Studies necessarily involves giving some background context for readers not familiar with Australian higher education. These early efforts in an emergent field were assisted by the Australian Communication Association—formed in , and re-named in as the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association—acting as a place of exchange of ideas about communication education.

Putnis et al.

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These new institutions were exciting places to be in the s. Staff were generally younger and more radical, influenced by the intellectual ferment sweeping the industrialised nations—the Civil Rights movement in the USA, second-wave feminism, post-colonialism—and less beholden to established disciplinary structures and traditions. In , with the introduction of the Unified National System by the Hawke Labor Government, the binary system ended, and a set of re-structures took place that worked to the advantage of the field of Communication and Media as a contemporary area of study in a mass education system4.

In this article, curriculum innovation is a term used in a number of ways. It can be used to refer to the introduction of a new teaching area into the system e. It can also refer to experimentation within the curriculum, special projects, and pilot studies efforts that if implemented eventually become normalised, prompting a new cycle of change. Finally, it can refer to a process of innovating within dictated institutional ideas of what a communication program is about. As our field grows older, images of curriculum innovation will change with the times. It is hoped that this focus on the emergence of Communication Studies as a curriculum idea, and also the focus on this idea in a material situation, gives greater historical context to this term.

This article does build on some existing accounts of curriculum work.


My undergraduate degree New England included specialisations in economics and geography and I held an MEd Sydney and an MA Hons Macquarie that focused on curriculum development, innovative teaching strategies, and the professional in- service development of teachers.

My PhD Macquarie in management communication followed in , and was shaped by the work I was doing at Kuring-gai. What attracted you to Kuring-gai? The position at Kuring-gai promised just that, as the college moved from offering only non-degree teacher education courses to introducing, in , an innovative undergraduate degree program in business studies, the Bachelor of Business B Bus , via a newly established School of Financial and Administrative Studies.

Why the history of the public sphere matters in the Internet age.

The communication subjects were also intended to impart skills and understandings to students that they could draw upon throughout their undergraduate program and transfer to the workplace. What was the institutional context like? Sulman Award-winning new buildings, adjacent to national parklands, were designed to accommodate just students but held triple that number by the time Kuring-gai was absorbed into the University of Technology, Sydney in The conservative culture of the teacher education staff was threatened by, for example, the new, more university-like culture most obvious initially in the less formal attire of business studies staff and students, business staff-student interactions being conducted on a first name basis, and even the introduction of developments such as student evaluation of course units and teaching.

Were there any special people fostering the development of communication? He represented quite a change, an innovative young business educator with a strong will to inspire and bring about change. Bill was a strong advocate for an approach to accountancy and business education that was liberal in orientation, and included knowledge of communication and Australian society. George Muir knew how to lead without meddling and his support was essential to ensure that innovative subjects were up and running in an environment that up until then had been very conservative and resistant to change.

What did the two compulsory first-year communication subjects involve? How were they staffed? The first semester subject explored the extent, forms, and importance of communication in personal and professional contexts, paying particular attention to the influence of perception, observation, inference, images and cultural experience, and contact on communication and illustrated these by reference to relationship communication, non-verbal communication, language, and persuasion.

The second semester subject focused on argument and rhetoric in personal and academic discourses, evidence, fallacies of argument psychological, material, statistical, and logical and the analysis and construction of extended arguments. We soon expanded the titles of these subjects to reflect their content, and they became Communication I: Interpersonal Communication, and Communication II: Argumentation and Reasoning.

Two existing staff members of the college, Ron Underwood Head of Production Services and Rosemary Lewis Lecturer in English , had worked with Bill Birkett in developing the subject statements and were to be involved in the initial teaching, but it now became my job to take charge of co-ordinating both subjects and developing detailed teaching materials, assessment tasks, and so on.

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By week three we were organised with teaching materials and from there we never looked back. In addition to having Ron Underwood, Rosemary Lewis, and myself teaching the communication subjects, Bill Birkett wanted as many of his lecturing staff in mainstream business subjects as possible to rotate through turns teaching the subjects. So we had the advantage and the challenge of economists, accountants, lawyers, and quantitative methods specialists teaching in our team. None was coerced to join us for a few hours a week for a semester but, over time, about 30 business studies staff had an involvement plus an additional half dozen from teacher education who put up their hand for a turn.

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Only a few who were invited declined to participate, and several became involved with a class in both subjects over a period of years and made an ongoing and valuable contribution to subject development. This was Usually, departments sat within schools and were linked to areas of teaching within a single school. But as a cross-school department, we offered our subjects in several degree programs based in different schools and we built our department staffing profile and operating budget in negotiation with several schools.

Staffing and budgetary structures to support the communication offerings were bent around existing institutional arrangements. Why was communication introduced into the curriculum? When the Department of Communication Studies was formed, I was appointed as Chairman and Head of this initially small group. But while we four had the advantage of focusing full-time on our newfound field of Communication Studies, this was a luxury not afforded to those linguists, accountants, lawyers, sociologists, and economists who taught communication classes with us. Did your department adopt any special approach to learning?

For the Communication I: Interpersonal Communication and Communication II: Argumentation and Reasoning subjects that were compulsory for all first year B Bus students enrolments reached one year we decided on an experiential learning approach that would make no use of formal lectures. All this was highly experimental: staff found it exciting and fun.

Essays in Memory of Bill Bonney

Students responded well, although initially we had to work to convince some that communication had a legitimate place alongside accounting, economics, law, and the other subjects they had anticipated studying for their business degree. Was the initial institutional brief for communication respected, or did it start to change? If so, were these pressures academic, financial, aspirational? Almost immediately, the four of us Shirley Saunders, Elizabeth More, Glen Lewis, and I began talking about where all this including the more information and media oriented subjects offered to library students was taking us—and our careers.

The teaching of service units left the department vulnerable, especially if key institutional supporters such as Bill Birkett, Margaret Trask, or George Muir left the institution. Staff in the department had in a sense taken a gamble in coming to Kuring-gai and there was interest in getting more security. The curriculum was crowded.

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  5. Service teaching gave us a budget, but we were always teaching students who belonged to other programs, and the lack of long-term security meant we were reliant on casual hires. We enjoyed the work at Kuring-gai and looked forward to staying there and developing our work, including research projects we had initiated, in our new field. We were looking to extend our original brief for reasons that were a mix of the academic, intellectual, and aspirational. We had aspirations for the subject field and for ensuring Kuring-gai would become one of the leaders in Communication Studies in Australia at that time.

    And we had aspirations for ourselves: we wanted to teach more advanced students and subjects, and we wanted to grow in personal professional competency and competitiveness to meet criteria for promotion and perhaps eventual movement to other institutions—as it turned out we all eventually successfully chased opportunities elsewhere.

    What steps were taken to improve this situation? A disciplinary sequence had to be predominantly observational and descriptive in its early stages; be progressively abstract in later stages that emphasise methodological issues; involve progressive development of depth and rigour by asking more difficult questions of more complex phenomena; involve the progressive development of analytic and constructive skills; and require applications with phenomena and research into those phenomena. The greatest encouragement to develop a disciplinary sequence in Communication Studies came from the business faculty, which also provided the greatest competition for limited guernseys.

    By mid we staked a preliminary claim to form a sequence with a draft proposal that added to the existing subjects in interpersonal communication and argumentation and reasoning new subjects in media audiences and effects; media agencies and control; urban communication and telecommunications8; and theories of communication. In the US or the UK, each of these single unit titles would have represented a major sequence in themselves. But in our Kuring-gai context the offerings were far more eclectic.

    The units were a series of introductions to selected major areas within Communication Studies. Students enrolled for degree courses in accountancy, management, or librarianship and we were competing for their limited elective curriculum space against other departments that were also actively building their academic profiles. So, from a first year enrolment of students, upper level enrolments in our disciplinary sequence units might be Perhaps because of funding, or concern over changing too fast, Kuring- gai was moving slowly in considering disciplinary sequence proposals and that draft lay on their shelf during the time I was overseas on study leave in the second half of Did you have a plan for that study leave?

    I sat in on curriculum development meetings and lectures the first time I had ever attended a lecture in my new field! One of the more memorable experiences was sitting in lectures over several weeks at the University of Pittsburgh in the immensely popular, highly critical, and brilliantly taught Presidential Rhetoric and Senatorial Rhetoric subjects.

    This, and numerous other first-hand experiences that the visits allowed, confirmed to me that there was much more to US Communication Studies than its ill-informed critics knew about or were prepared to acknowledge. At this time at Kuring-gai we were rapidly building the library collection to support our ambitions. I recall wandering US university libraries and bookshops writing down book and journal titles including many originating in the UK and Europe directly onto air letters and then posting these off to Elizabeth.

    Would it be fair to say then that your original curriculum focus was on the US? The intention was not to confine enquiry to the United States: separately a great deal of course design and subject organisation information was obtained from UK universities. Because of the developments we were contemplating, and continued growth in numbers enrolled in our existing subjects, it was imperative that we significantly increase our staff numbers.

    A Bibliography of the Concept Öffentlichkeit.pdf

    This was a win-win situation for the Department of Communication Studies because, over a period of about three years, we selectively acquired Jean Gledhill, Bill Ticehurst, Michael Kaye, and Sam Heyman, all outstanding and committed teachers and all enthusiastic about a career change from teacher education, and at the same time we hired Virginia Nightingale fresh from her media studies at Leicester University , Elly Lenz a health communication expert with German and US qualifications , and several well-qualified senior tutors and tutors associate lecturers.

    The agreement was that up to four successive one-year appointments be made from varying sub-fields of communication to assist staff development, and that, each year, the position be advertised in the US and the UK. Applications from the US were stronger and more numerous, and over a four year period from we had with us a succession of outstanding fellows: Jim Van Leuven journalism and media , Chairman, Department of Communication, Washington State University; Joe MacDoniels interpersonal and organisational communication , Chairman, Department of Communication, Hope College, Michigan; John Leipzig organisational communication , Department of Communication, University of Alaska at Fairbanks; and Joe Ayres interpersonal communication , Washington State University.

    As incoming ACA President, my role was to host the conference. Again, they proved valuable long-term contacts for departmental staff and, like our Visiting Fellows, long-term assets in our staff development work. What was happening with your moves towards a disciplinary sequence at that time? The disciplinary sequence in communication, now modified to include subjects in interpersonal communication, argumentation and reasoning, small group communication, organisational communication, media studies, and applications of communication theory and research which became a vehicle to study some health communication was introduced in , and approved by the NSW Higher Education Board which then had to approve all major course structures in all NSW Colleges of Advanced Education!

    And by late , our interpersonal and argumentation subjects had been adopted for introduction in the new nursing program, and interpersonal communication was being taught to students in new B Ed Physical Education and BA Leisure Studies programs. Such a development would, however, have needed support and approval by the NSW Higher Education Board, and this was not forthcoming.