The Stony Brook University School of Journalism has officially changed their name to the School of Communication and Journalism and will be expanding offered majors and minors to cover broader topics of communication.
The name change will be implemented on the School of Journalism’s website, around campus and within its academic program. The School has been partnered with the Alda Center for Communicating Science for the past year. In recent months, after designing a communications program, they began to work with faculty and shared governance bodies to change their name officially.
“As one of the flagship research centers in the SUNY [State University of New York] system and a member of the AAU [Association of American Universities], we felt it was time for Stony Brook to engage more completely with the wider field of communication and its importance,” Lori Kie, the communications manager at the School of Communications and Journalism, said.
The School will introduce communications as a new option for prospective students and employers.
“Adding the broader concept of communication to our name is a signal that we are evolving with the changing needs of our students and our society,” Laura Lindenfeld, the dean of the School of Communication and Journalism, said.
She also said that she is proud of the School’s growth and feels that communication is important to building mutual understanding and compassion across individuals and societies.
“We also hope to contribute more deeply and thoroughly to SBU’s research culture, as we expand the School’s research into mass communication, and work with other Schools, Colleges and programs to help them share their work and its significance with others effectively, in ways that build trust and engagement,” she said.
In an email to journalism students, Lindenfeld said that the name change is just the beginning of the School’s expansion. In 2020, the School began to offer an advanced graduate certificate in science communication and health communication.
The School also anticipates introducing a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and a master’s degree in science communication, pending final approval from the State Education Department. The degree programs have been approved by both the University and SUNY.
Minors, which only require campus approval, have been a part of the discussion as well. The School hopes to introduce and implement several new minors within the next year, according to Kie.
“These new programs will create a wider variety of important and rewarding career paths to our students,” Lindenfeld wrote in the email to students. “This change will also build upon our School’s strong reputation, increasing the value of your degrees.”
Although journalism and communications go hand in hand, there will be key differences between the two majors. The journalism major focuses on preparing students to succeed as multimedia reporters by being able to write, edit and produce to tell a meaningful story. The mass communication major will focus on teaching students to understand, assess, and analyze how messages are created, distributed and understood through mass media, according to Kie.
The proposed major will involve courses on theory, research methods and other specialized topics. Though the journalism major is 42 credits, the proposed mass communications major would be 39 credits.
“We want to start out with a relatively small number of students so we can build capacity slowly and ensure everyone gets a really great learning experience,” Kie said.
Many SUNY schools have communications and journalism as majors, but the School of Communication and Journalism is the first of its kind in the SUNY system. It will be the first and only School in the system to be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
“Since its founding in 2006, the School has been deeply committed to offering our students a hands-on, experiential educational experience,” Kie said. “Our commitment to that is, and will always remain, one of our core values.”