New Media is Focus of New Lakeland College Communication Program

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New Lakeland College major can lead students to diverse list of career paths

“We’re in the midst of a fascinating communications revolution that’s changing faster than some consumers can keep up."
--John McKenzie, Lakeland College communication instructor

Lakeland College has introduced a new communication major this fall, but it isn’t like most of the communication programs that already crowd the higher education marketplace.

The constant evolution of new media is a centerpiece of Lakeland’s program, making it one of the few programs in the region that will prepare students to understand and use these new media in a variety of professional settings after graduation.

“In 2000, no one had heard of Facebook because it hadn’t been designed yet, but today one in seven people in the world have Facebook profiles,” said John McKenzie, an instructor in the program. “We’re in the midst of a fascinating communications revolution that’s changing faster than some consumers can keep up. It’s also dramatically changing the ways we’re communicating with one another.

“The courses in this program will teach our students to master the myriad of methods available to communicate and open the door to a number of different career paths.”

Lakeland’s program includes the classic theories that are the staple of any communication program and demonstrates to students how those theories are applied in today’s dynamic landscape. The major is an interdisciplinary program that provides students opportunities to take classes in, among other topics, writing, public speaking and computer design.

The degree could lead students to a variety of careers, from journalism, public relations and marketing to public policy analysis, political advising and lobbying and law school.

The major builds on the college’s communication minor, which had been offered for a number of years. The first new courses within the major were offered this fall, and the Higher Learning Commission formally approved the new major last week.

The program offers students two different emphasis tracks:

  •     A rhetoric and public communication emphasis for students who may want to work for nonprofits, activist or political organizations or other careers with a civic focus.
  •     A professional communication track for students interested in journalism, PR and marketing, corporate communication and human resources.

Highlighting the coursework will be multiple hands-on opportunities, including building communications campaigns and understanding and using the latest social media tools.

Earlier this semester in his Political Communication and Activism course, one of the new offerings, McKenzie led students through the Republican and Democratic presidential debate talking points and strategies, and then met with his students outside of class to watch and discuss the debates.

“The students enjoyed seeing how much of the communication was prepared entering the debate and how it evolved during the debate,” McKenzie said. “The timing of the debates this fall was perfect for this course.”

With today’s employers consistently stressing the need for employees with above-average writing and oral communication skills, McKenzie said Lakeland’s program will provide a variety of opportunities to learn and hone those skills.

“You often read today how employers and others are lamenting the erosion of communication skills in this day of 140-character Twitter responses and emails on the go from our smart phones,” McKenzie said. “Our coursework will blend using new media while underscoring what’s demanded as a professional communicator.

“The program isn’t about the latest fad. Our courses will be constantly changing as the marketplace changes so Lakeland’s program is always relevant for our students.”

Learn more about the program online at or contact the college at 1-800-242-3347 or admissions(at)lakeland(dot)edu.

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David Gallianetti
Lakeland College
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