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November 2009
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January 2010

Early Impressions of Graduate School....

In October, I started an MA in Professional Communications at Royal Roads University. I chose the program not only because Royal Roads allows the ability to work full time during the program, but also because communication theory and skills seem very important to learn at this time in human history.

The Copenhagen Climate talks involved no less than 193 countries trying to come up with a common vision on addressing climate change. More than ever, we are realizing that we need to work together; however, what we often have is a failure to communicate.

The Royal Roads program combines a yearly residency of three weeks with online coursework and research. There are two cohorts. I am in the more general stream, and there is another stream specializing in international / inter-cultural communication. There are roughly 50 people in each cohort.

We're working our way through our first set of courses and just completed our first residency. Here are some early impressions:

  • Really good foundations: The first three courses in the program are Intro to Communication Theory, Research Methodologies, and Professional Communication (basically a writing course). I've really enjoyed all of these courses. Michael Real, our theory professor, reframed the study of theory from the outset. Theory is often seen as dry and boring, but Michael has got me thinking of theory as an incredibly useful conceptual toolbox that uses historical experience / best practices to gain insights for present research and action. This is just one example of how the instructors have made these topics come alive.
  • The Public Intellectual: In a panel discussion at the residency, Prof David Black raised the question of the public intellectual. This is someone, as I understand it, tries to bridge the gap between academia and the mainstream public conversation / issue landscape. This greatly appeals to me. We have enormous societal challenges and, associated with those, we have tremendous opportunities. Peer reviewed, rigorous research often only gets published in academic journals with little readership.
  • Access to Knowledge: I am finding it hard to believe how much knowledge my Royal Roads library access allows me. I almost have to pinch myself. The amount of online resources - journal articles and such - is staggering. I am really enjoying tapping into some of this stuff
Just some early thoughts on a late December Saturday.