Unpacking the Complexity of Communication

Humans often communicate multiple meanings or messages in a single communicative act. Adding to this complexity, when humans communicate, we do so through various media, symbols, materials, and designs.

The faculty in the Communication Department are wholly committed to helping students understand the complexity of communication and thus enabling students to better analyze the communication they receive and better create communication for their intended audiences. Moreover, Hope’s Communication Department is committed to the seamless integration of theory and hands-on experience as students explore the complexity of communication.

For example, every semester the students in Dr. Anderson’s Comm 101 course take a walking tour of some of the public memorials in Holland, MI. Pictured above is the “Tribute to the People” mural, designed by artist Jose Narezo in the late 1980s and painted by Hope’s Upward Bound participants. It is located off of River and 9th St. in downtown Holland. The mural shows the heritage of the Latino community in Holland, with the flag representing the unity of the nation, the indigenous face of mother earth, a stylized sun as the source of all life, and maize – the food staple of many in Central and South America. Students research the monuments, explain how they can be interpreted as “texts”, how they are multivocal, and how the material and design contribute to their meaning.

Collaborating with Trans-Matic for Student Learning

February 14, 2019

Students in Prof. Anderson’s Organizational Communication (COMM 330) have been taking annual field trips to Trans-Matic, a deep draw and metal stamping company on the south side of Holland, since 2006. The company gives us a tour of the shop floor, tool room, CAD design room, calibration lab, and office spaces, to show us how production tasks are planned and coordinated across work units.

Students not only learn about this industry (which supplies metal parts for auto manufacture, boating manufacture, and home-building) but also practice doing field research. We observe how space is organized, how workers interact face-to-face and virtually, what management systems are currently used, how work is evaluated, and how the company’s culture has developed over time. Students then use these observational skills to research a different organization of their choice for their term project in the course. We so appreciate Trans-Matic’s hospitality and long-term relationship with the Communication Department.

Communicating to End Sexual Harassment

This post describes the second in a trilogy of events regarding sexual harassment awareness sponsored by the Department of Communication in partnership with the Women’s and Gender Studies and S.T.E.P programs. This week’s event was a panel discussion about the movie Confirmation, which was screened last week.


Dr. Isolde Anderson

Isolde Anderson, an organizational communication scholar, discussed the nuanced and varied ways in which workplace harassment is defined, the role of power differentials in harassment, and contemporary research regarding sexual harassment.

Dr. Kristen Gray, Psy.D, LP


Kristen Gray drew on her expertise as a therapist to discuss trauma as well as effective scripts for refusing consent.


Dr. Kendra Parker

Kendra Parker, who specializes in African American literature and gender studies, used an intersectional feminist lens to explain how racism and sexism were simultaneously deployed against Dr. Anita Hill and to demonstrate how Black women continue to be erased in contemporary social justice movements

Am engaged audience meant that a wide -ranging discussion ensued. Topics discussed included

  • connections between toxic masculinity, rape culture, and the silencing of male victims of sexual assault
  • issues of ableism in conceptualizing harassment and assault
  • tangible advice for expressing or refusing consent
  • contemporary events such as the Larry Nassar trial, Terry Crews testimony about sexual assault before the Senate judiciary, #SayHerName, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings
  • Hope College’s policies regarding harassment and assault

Many thanks to our panelists for sharing their time and expertise. We’d also like to thank our wonderful audience for their thoughtful participation. Our final event is a small-group discussion and storytelling even, which will occur next Wednesday (January 30) at 6: 30 pm in MMC 239. We hope you will join us!

Confirmation: A Study in Sexual Harassment Communication

The Communication Department kicked off a trilogy of events this week by screening the film Confirmation. Partnering with Hope’s Women’s & Gender Studies council and the STEP program, the Communication Department is focused on processing the communicative dynamics of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement.

The film is a provocative dramatization of the Clarence Thomas hearings by screenwriter Susannah Grant (famous for her Erin Brockovitch script). At no point does this film claim to know which testimony upholds the truth; rather, this film depicts how an entire political institution–the U.S. Senate–was brought to bear against Dr. Anita Hill. Indeed, true to its title, this film powerfully depicts a process that inexorably grinds toward confirmation.

Focusing on communicative dynamics draws our attention to a number of elements. First, the political manipulation of news media, such as the Senate’s staging of the proceedings so that Clarence Thomas’ testimony occurred during prime time and managing the 1-day news cycle. Second, the intersecting nature of sex and race as Clarence Thomas and Dr. Anita Hill faced discrimination and Thomas’ mobilizing of identity politics in his famous testimony that the hearings were a “high-tech lynching.” And third, this perspective highlights the ways in which sexual harassment happens through communication (verbal and non-verbal) and within communicative environments (the workplace, online platforms, etc.).

The Communication Department at Hope College helps students master the art and science of how humans create and share meaning, preparing them to responsibly engage in civil dialogue. We hope you’ll join us for this trilogy of events as we engage with the topic of sexual harassment. Our goal is educating students for responsible engagement, civil dialogue, and an ethic of love and humility. Join us next week for a panel discussion featuring Dr. Isolde Anderson!

Comm @ National Communication Conference

Each November, Communication faculty from across the country gather together to share research, teaching strategies, and commune together at the National Communication Association’s annual conference. This year the conference is hosted in Salt Lake City, UT, and Dr. Marissa Doshi,  Dr. Sarah Kornfield, and Comm Major Emily Wolfe are representing Hope College’s Communication Department!

Dr. Doshi rocked this conference with multiple sessions, events, and research presentations. For example:

  • Dr. Doshi co-authored award winning research with Josh Barbour and Leandra Hernandez. Their research, “Telling Global Public Health Stories: Narrative Message Design for Issues Management,” was selected as the winner of the 2018 Bill Eadie Distinguished Article Award by the Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association.
  • Dr. Doshi led an intensive seminar for other faculty, “Revising the Playbook: Decolonizing the core Communication Curriculum,” which focused on how faculty can build courses that are more representative, globally engaged, just, and reflective of the mindful diversification in communication studies
  • Dr. Doshi presented her research. “Hybridizing National Identity: Reflections on the Media Consumption of Catholic Women in Urban India”
  • And Dr. Doshi presented her research, “How We Played with Food: Exploring Stories about Food and Identity through Performative Practices.

Additionally, Dr. Doshi presented her co-authored research with Comm Major Emily Wolfe. This research was funded, in part, through Hope’s Towsley Award.

  • Emily Wolfe and Dr. Doshi discussed the ways in which millennial women use Instagram to build, maintain, and reinforce friendships with one another.  They focused on women’s ingenious practices and media savvy in navigating this online platform, demonstrating how women harness this digital forum in meaningful ways.

Dr. Sarah Kornfield worked throughout this conference to represent Hope’s research-forward focus and Liberal Arts mandate. For example:

  • Dr. Kornfield presented her research on how television presents pregnant bodies in two different ways. First, Dr. Kornfield presented research, “Televisual Pregnancy Beauty,” featuring her recently published article in Feminist Media Studies.
  • The second way Dr. Kornfield presented her mediated pregnancy research was through her research presentation, “Performing Televisual Pregnancy.”
  • Dr. Kornfield also promoted excellence in the Liberal Arts through her forum presentation, “Faculty Labor at Liberal Arts Colleges,” in which she represented the unique role of the Communication discipline within a Liberal Arts undergraduate academy.

Follow us on Twitter @HopeCommDept and Instagram: HopeCommDept!



Happy Halloween!

Faculty and Staff from the Communication Department
Dr. Dibble carved a Hope College Comm Department Pumpkin!

The Communication Department meets regularly to plan upcoming curricula, to organize campus events, and to strategize how best to serve our students, college, discipline, and community.  And when our meeting falls on Halloween, there’s candy involved too!

Alumni Updates

Hope College celebrated its Homecoming and Alumni Weekend as One Big Weekend, Oct 19-21, 2018. The Communication Department was delighted to see alumni and reflect on the role that Communication and a Hope College education has played in graduates’ lives.

Our graduates are working around the world, fulfilling Hope’s mission of serving and leading in a global society and the Communication Department’s mission of creating and sharing meaning for the common good.

For example, Will DeBoer celebrated the Alumni Weekend at Hope this past weekend. He graduated in 2014 and went on to complete a Master’s in Public Administration from the Columbus State University. He now works as the Director of Broadcasting at two companies, the Delmarva Shorebirds Baseball and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Basketball.

On October 15th, Dr. Mpine Makoe returned to Hope’s campus for the first time since she graduated in 1990. After majoring in Communication and English at Hope, Dr. Makoe completed a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in Research Methods for Educational Technology from The Open University in the United Kingdom, and a Ph.D. in Educational Technology from The Open University. Dr. Makoe currently serves as the President of the Distance Education Association of South Africa and has won multiple awards in journalism and research. Dr. Makoe was on campus to discuss student activism in post-apartheid South Africa.

The Communication Department is committed to students’ scholarly, moral, and professional development, preparing students to be agents of change around the world. By mastering the art and science of communication, Hope College’s communication graduates responsibly engage in civil dialogue throughout their lives, communities, professions, relationships, and service. We are delighted to graduate alumni known for their excellence and commitment to the common good.

Advising Season! What you need to know about Majoring in Communication

During the next two weeks or so, Hope College faculty and students meet together for advising. During advising sessions, faculty and students discuss students’ progress toward their degrees, what courses to register for next semester, and how their Hope College education is preparing students for their futures.

Dr. Choonghee Han describes his approach to advising, saying,

My motto in advising, as the chair of the Communication Department in particular, has been to enable students to see where they are heading and what they need to do now when it comes to their plan of study. Whether it be Major/Minor requirements, off-campus study, credit transfers, or something else, please stop by anytime when you’re in doubt.

In addition to the courses required for a Communication Major (Comm 101, 140, 151, 160, 260, 280, and 399), the Communication Department is offering these electives in Spring 2019.

Dr. Hearit Presents Media Bias

Dr. Lauren Hearit recently led the HASP community in an educational discussion, “Bias and the Media.” HASP (the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals) is a lifelong learning and service community for retirees in West Michigan. Dr. Hearit focused on the evidence for how, when, and if bias manifests itself in the media.

Dr. Hearit states, “I had the opportunity to discuss bias in the media with HASP, a topic I’ve delved into while teaching an introductory crisis communication class here at Hope College. I discovered when teaching crisis communication that my basic assumptions — that the media seeks to tell the truth, and that the media is an important aspect of democracy — were not necessarily held by my students. Therefore, I spent some time researching why my students were having difficulty separating being critical of the media from having a basic trust in the watchdog function of our media. I learned that a huge casualty of our increasingly polarized electorate and a major increase in fake news has been a decline in trust in our media system, and was able to take what I learned to HASP.

Speaking with HASP was like teaching my dream class. We had a great discussion about the role of the media in a democracy, the importance of local news, how media bias shows up in our news, and how we can critically evaluate the quality of news reporting. Additionally, we talked about how reading around an issue (in other words, reading about one news source from multiple, printed news sources) can allow one to have a better sense of an issue, and how oftentimes by reading the news from a high quality national news source like BBC or PBS, you’re able to avoid a lot of the commentary and analysis you run into with TV news.”





Dr. Johnston Appointed to Interim Associate Dean of Global Education

Hope College’s Mission: To educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.

Hope College is committed to the internationalization of our curriculum and to providing students with a global education. The Communication Department is excited that our own Dr. Deirdre Johnston has been appointed to oversee Hope’s next stage in the internationalization process!

Dr. Johnston is appointed as the Interim Associate Dean of Global Education. She leads Hope’s faculty-focused global efforts by spearheading the faculty development for global education, leadership in developing a global curriculum, faculty-led off campus study programs, faculty exchange programs, and the development of intercultural competencies across faculty, staff, and students. Dr. Johnston’s research, teaching, leadership strengths, and expertise in globalized curricula make her uniquely qualified to lead Hope forward, preparing students for lives of leadership and service in a global society.

Reflecting on her appointment, Dr. Johnston stated, “I have a passion for global learning and diversity education. I am excited to work with students, faculty and staff to promote understanding of intercultural communication and ethical global engagement. Global learning experiences both on-and off-campus will better prepare both students and faculty in fulfilling Hope’s mission to be critically reflective and ethically responsible global citizens.”