By Zeti Azreen Ahmad
We communicate every day with many different people in various contexts and for many different reasons. Seldom we realise that we are capable of accomplishing many things through effective communication. As an academic discipline, Communication has its root in the study of rhetoric focusing on public speaking and persuasion.
At present, Communication field has grown far beyond rhetoric but to include a myriad of other specialisations such as interpersonal communication, organisational communication, media, intercultural communication, mediated communication, public relations, journalism, marketing, broadcasting, and many more.
At the institute of higher learning, Communication is a popular field of studies among students all over the world and is being offered in many reputable universities.
The Communication programme in the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) was introduced in 1990 under the Department of Communication, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences. The four-year programme confers a Bachelor of Human Sciences, Honours Degree in Communication.
It started off with three areas of specialisation; Print Media, Organisational Communication and Public Relations. Later, the programme has transformed in which Print Media was replaced with Journalism while Electronic Media was added as a new stream.
At present, the programme offers two broad areas of specialisation i.e., Strategic Communication and Integrated Media Journalism. The Department is committed to produce Communication graduates who are not only competent in their chosen areas but also holistic and balanced individuals who are ready to provide innovative solutions to organisations and society at large.
Our Communication programme is unique as it blends the communication corpus of knowledge with Islamic principles. This is vital as it facilitates the accomplishment of our vision to produce dynamic communication graduates who uphold Islamic values, responsible, ethical and enthused to make a positive difference in society. The curriculum is designed with axiology as one of the guiding philosophies that is embedded in all its courses and activities.
Another distinctive feature of our Communication programme is the process of education that does not only stop in the classroom. Experiential learning is adopted for the students to acquire and appreciate knowledge.
In this context, the Department provides several communication and media platforms to enable students to learn by doing. Students who specialise in Integrated Media Journalism learn to produce their own television and radio programmes. The establishment of the Department-owned online TV and radio, or known as IIUMTV and IIUM.fm respectively, are imperative in providing real settings and contexts that facilitate a meaningful learning process.
In addition, the Department also formed the IIUMToday, an online news portal as a platform to groom journalistic and creative writing skills among students. Students have the opportunity to engage with experienced editors and journalists through attachment and training sessions organised every semester.
The students’ associations are another avenue to sharpen their leadership and management skills. The Communication Students’ Association or known as COSA and the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia Student Association-IIUM Chapter (IPRMSA-IIUM Chapter) were formed to ensure the professional side of communication are exposed to them.
In the associations, students take up leadership role, learn how to deal with different stakeholders, develop networking with professional community, plan and execute programmes that are not only relevant for their future profession but also bring good to the community at large. This is how leadership skills and ethical values are nurtured in the learning process.
Our lecturers assumed a vital role in monitoring the activities of these establishments to ensure students received enough guidance and able to produce products and activities that are of exceptional quality. The student-teacher learning outside the classroom offers a vibrant and dynamic learning process for our students.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put our normal routine at halt since early last year. Despite much constraints, the Department managed to adjust and adapt to ensure our core business in providing quality education continues smoothly. Our teaching and learning activities are pursued on remote and online mode.
Experiential learning activities remained just like normal semester; our students actively produced television, radio and other programmes online. Leveraging on the online platform, academic members also managed to proceed with their research, publication, consultancy, community engagement and conferences.
The Department has taken a bold step by organising the third WAPOR Asia International Conference virtually for the first time in November last year. More than 60 scholars from all over the world presented their research work in the conference.
Scholars at the Department of Communication are actively involved in research, publications, conferences and consultancy work in the area of political communication, health communication, public opinion studies, crisis communication and the new media, to name a few.
Moving forward, the Department aims to strengthen its standing by working on impact driven research locally and internationally. The Department is now embarking on a strategic partnership projects with its international counterparts, professional associations, businesses, NGOs and local community towards a long term and mutually beneficial initiative.***
(The writer, Dr. Zeti Azreen Ahmad, is Assistant Professor and Head in Department of Communication, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM)