Poly Com and Rhetoric

Classes in the area of political communication and rhetoric address the ways that communities are created through influential language. From an analytical standpoint, classes examine media, speeches, texts, and other deliberately produced discourse to understand how influence operates civically and politically. From an applied standpoint, classes teach how to design and deliver ethical and influential civic and political communication.

Courses: Undergraduate students who wish to learn more about Political Communication and Rhetoric can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below.
COM 220 Introduction to Public Speaking (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 234 Public Debate (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 335 Competitive Debate Practicum (1-3, max. 6) I&S
COM 238 Rhetoric and Popular Culture (5) VLPA
COM 304 The Press and Politics in the United States (5) I&S
COM 305 The Politics of Mass Communication in America (5) I&S
COM 306 Media, Society, and Political Identity I&S (5) I&S
COM 320 Advanced Public Speaking (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 321 Communications in International Relations (5) I&S
COM 329 Rhetoric of Social and Political Movements (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 330 Rhetoric of Science (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 331 The Rhetorical Tradition in Western Thought (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 332 History of Rhetoric (5) VLPA
COM 333 Contemporary Rhetorical Theory (5) VLPA
COM 334 Essentials of Argument (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 336 Speech Consulting (1)
COM 343 Effects of Mass Communication (5) I&S
COM 375 Communication Ethics (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 411 Political Communication Seminar (5, max. 10) I&S
COM 414 Mass Media and Public Opinion (5) I&S
COM 417 Political Deliberation (5) I&S
COM 418 Communications and the Environment (5) I&S
COM 428 The Media and Peace (5) I&S
COM 435 Historic American Public Address (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 436 Contemporary American Public Address (5) VLPA/I&S
COM 440 Mass Media Law (5) I&S
COM 469 Intellectual Foundations of American Journalism (5) I&S
COM 471 Persuasion (5) VLPA/I&S

Learn about Political Communication and Rhetoric from the faculty members who teach classes in this area:


Career Pathways: A degree in this area of Communication can lead to a variety of jobs. Below are a few options to get you thinking about where you want your career to start after graduation.

Industry: Politics / Government

A career in politics or government means being involved in public life, either through campaigns and elections or in government offices directly or indirectly related to those electoral contests. Communication courses provide students with a command of public speaking, message design, and a critical perspective on society, politics, and culture—all of which can help advance a political career.

Examples of professions on this career path:

  • Campaign directorEmily Kim 200x200
  • Elected official
  • Lobbyist
  • Media/polling consultant
  • Press secretary
  • Speechwriter
  • Legislative Aide > Read about Emily Kim (B.A., 2008) who works at City Council in Councilmember Godden’s Office.

In addition to the Communication courses listed below, students are encouraged to supplement their communication major (or even seek graduate coursework) in political science and public affairs, or a minor in political science, and some career specializations might benefit from study in economics, geography, and any topical focus a student might wish to apply in politics (e.g., health, international affairs, etc.).

Industry: Law

A career in law, policy, and public affairs can involve a range of law-related careers and extend to careers in government, business, higher education, and communication. Students interested in pursuing a career in law may go on to law school, but a foundation in communication can afford them crucial experience in deliberation, negotiation, persuasion, and strategic communication.

Examples of professions on this career path:Brett-Bowker

  • Attorney
  • Judge
  • Jury/trial consultant
  • Legal assistant
  • Mediator
  • Lobbyist
  • Private Investigator > Brett Bowker (B.A., 2010) used his journalism skills to pave a path into the field of private investigation. Read more.

Students are also encouraged to explore coursework in the Department of Political Science or the Jackson School of International Studies which offers various courses within specific geographic regions if they are interested in international affairs/law. Students may also find it beneficial to look into a minor in Law, Societies, and Justice.

Industry: Activism / Community Social Worker

Careers in activism or community social work offer students an opportunity to use their communication skills in ways which benefit society, either by working with volunteers, activists, or non-profits.

  • Community organizer Jennifer Simmons 'Oconnor 200x200
  • Neighborhood activist
  • Non-profit program officer > Read about alumna Jennifer Simmons O’Connor who serves as the Regional Development Director for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
  • Protest organizer
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Grant writer/manager

Students hoping to better prepare themselves for a career in activism/community social work are encouraged to take additional coursework in fields such as political science and public policy and may want to seek more specialized courses in fields such as environmental studies, development, education, or international relations depending on how they would like to direct their efforts.

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