Our Mission | University of Portland

Our Mission

Communication scholarship explains how people connect, manage conflict, and collaborate in interpersonal, collective, and mediated ways, helping people demystify the dynamics in our lives. As global citizens in our local communities, UP’s Communication & Media Department invites students to advance ethical, equitable, and effective responses to societal, ecological, organizational, and relational challenges.

Our department’s work centers on understanding and teaching about communication as a key constructor – not a residue – of people’s knowledge, identities, organizations, relationships, cultures, and influence across social contexts. Skilled engagement and shared advocacy are needed to create diverse and equitable systems, so we also develop students’ communication capacities within innovative, interdisciplinary learning environments.

Our faculty research and teach communication as key to shaping meaningful interactions, effective practices, and equitable, just societies, while also helping students to name and unpack the biases and inequities that contribute to marginalization and systems of oppression. Studying with us means you will continually explore ways communication with yourself and others can help facilitate clarity, mutual respect, and equitable systems.


What we are thinking about with our students right now:

Our shared present and future pose challenges and opportunities to engage as communication practitioners and subject experts. Here are a few examples of entanglements our faculty highlight for students in an effort to invite deeper reflection and engagement and study: 

  • How social media algorithms are polarizing society and complicating connections among neighbors, governments, organizations, coworkers, partners, and families.

  • The ways health and care in our communities and culture is paramount to our joyful, playful existence. 

  • The changing nature of ‘work’ is shifting how we relate to and do our work, specifically as a result of artificial intelligence, labor organizing, public work policies, and the perceived efficacy and credibility of journalism and the media.

  • Contemporary discourses about identity, difference, and inequality (equity) are critically shaping our politics, economics, and relationships with others are confounding our cultures’ politics, economics, and relationships with fellow citizens and individuals across the globe. 

  • Shifting corporate, news, and media paradigms are showing (and muddling) perilous ecological threats and possibilities.

  • Climate change requires new and necessary ways to make sense of our relationships to ourselves, the land we cultivate, and connections to/with nonhuman animals. 

The Department of Communication & Media teaches and equips the next generation of media, journalism, healthcare, and communication experts to respond to our contemporary social, political, technological, and ecological challenges.

How Is This Mission Represented in What We Offer?

Our Communication and Media students can specialize in a variety of contexts related to mediated, environmental, culturalinterpersonal, health, and organizational communication, all with an emphasis on engagement and advocacy.

We offer two major degree programs: 

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication offers focused study in three primary areas: (a) Organizational and Relational Communication, (b) Culture and Communication, and (c) Environmental Communication. Students can choose to focus in an area or take any suite of classes that excites them to create their own plan of study.

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Organizational Communicationn explores workplace culture, decision-making dynamics, collaboration and teamwork within an organizational setting and/or within a social movement. It centers the robust power of organizing to make social change, within and outside of the workplace. This program is offered in collaboration with the Pamplin School of Business. 

Communication and Media (COM) students at UP tailor their degree programs to their particular aspirations. For example, COM graduates from UP work in health care, media, journalism, environmental policy, business, and political advocacy; manage and design organizations’ social media presence, mediate collective bargaining agreements, manage employees, coordinate events, write grants, create media products, develop fundraising for nonprofits; attend law school or graduate school; provide communication training, and are public relations professionals and entrepreneurs. Given our department’s global emphasis, our graduates also are sought and placed for Fulbright, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and other teaching positions. Students develop their understanding of communication through faculty-collaborative research and applied communication coursework, through co-curricular opportunities like the Lambda Pi Eta honor society and the Speech and Debate Union, and through internships and other community-based learning.