Letter to the editor: Major doesn’t fit college

Dear editor, Sustainability. I like the concept, but now hate the word. Unsurprisingly, I hear the word daily as a student in the Community Development and Applied Economics department here at UVM, an admittedly strange fit for someone with no interest in sustainable development. But CDAE includes my major, Public Communication. This may not seem right, but communication plays a vital role in community development, especially for nonprofit and small-scale organizations. And, in its defense, CDAE provides PCom students with a unique sense of how sustainability and communication fit together. However, most universities have entire departments, if not colleges, dedicated to the various sectors of communication. Moreover, these schools break down communication into its elements and develop majors or concentrations for specific areas of study. But UVM has one, sweeping major. CDAE describes the PCom program as an “integrated approach” to communication studies. The result is a generalized, ultimately superficial curriculum that provides students with a little taste of everything but never establishes a thorough appreciation of anything. This is, in part, due to the program’s location in CDAE. The PCom curriculum is balanced with required CDAE core classes dedicated to the ideals of the department. These 18 credit hours could be better spent on courses for major concentrations to add some specificity to the expansive approach. Judging by the increasingly full courses, there seems to be an influx of students interested in the major. This is great, but are the students drawn to the ideals of CDAE? Or are they looking for a traditional communication major? In talking with other students, it seems to be overwhelmingly the latter. As such, UVM needs to establish middle ground between the sustainability-oriented approach of CDAE and the narrow-mindedness of a business school. A separate department or college dedicated to communication studies would provide this necessary compromise. Sincerely, Joe Siebert Class of 2013