Committed to excellence in teaching, research and service in communication based on sound theory and practice, concentrating on understanding contexts and perspectives, preparing students for lifelong effective communication.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Learn and apply communication theories, perspectives, principles and concepts.
  2. Create messages appropriate to the audience, purpose and context.
  3. Critically analyze targeted messages.



Core Courses:

*In consultation with an advisor, students select at least 12 credit hours of any COM courses 100-level through 400-level, and at least 12 credit hours from 300 and 400-level COM courses.



Other minor programs:


Gender Studies

This program explores scholarship on women and gender. Historical and cross-cultural perspectives, critical theory, and interdisciplinary approaches are employed to examine questions of gender difference, inequality, and exclusion. In keeping with the philosophy of liberal arts education, the goal of gender studies is to better understand and ultimately transform our lives and the world in which we live.

Professors: Maureen Dolan, Kimberly Jensen, Robin Smith.

For more information, contact Dr. Robin Smith 838-8357,


Explores scholarship on women and gender. Historical and cross-cultural perspectives, critical theory and interdisciplinary approaches are employed to examine questions of gender difference, inequality and exclusion. In keeping with the philosophy of liberal arts education, the goal of gender studies is to better understand and ultimately to transform our lives and the world in which we live.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze how gender roles and ideologies are differently constructed and expressed in different cultures.
  2. Explain the history of patriarchy and analyze the history of efforts to balance its effects.
  3. Explain how race, class, gender and other categories of difference interact in society.


Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary approach for understanding the relationship between humans and the natural environment. It provides academic breadth, specific areas of expertise, and technical skills. The program supports an extensive internship program and is committed to the professional development of its students who seek employment in environmentally related fields such as resource management, environmental assessment, land-use planning, public administration, and teaching. The program also seeks to serve students interested in pursuing advanced training in environmental studies.

For more information, contact Dr. Mary Pettenger, 503-838-8301, OR Dr. Steve Taylor, 503-838-8398,

Following is a list of the professors/advisors involved with the Environmental Studies Program:

Bryan Dutton, Professor of Biology
Susan Daniel, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Mark Henkels, Professor of Political Science
Stephen Taylor, Professor of Earth/Physical Science
Jeffery Templeton, Associate Professor of Earth/Physical Science
Mark Van Steeter, Associate Professor of Geography
Emily Plec, Professor of Speech Communication
Mary Pettenger, Associate Professor of Political Science


Educate students about the physical, biological and social dimensions of the environment. The program teaches specific topics and skills central to understanding environmental issues and promotes pathways to jobs in the environmental field.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the interconnectedness of humans and the environment.
  2. Apply problem solving skills to real-world environmental issues.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of current environmental issues in a community context.


Film Studies

Professors: Shaun Huston, Gavin Keulks, Mark Perlman, Michael Phillips, Emily Plec, Robin Smith

Associate professor: Daniel Tankersley, Kathleen Connolly


To engage students in the critical study of moving images, including opportunities for practical

experience in film and video making and criticism.

Learning outcomes

1. Explain the power of visual media to shape perceptions of the world.

2. Analyze moving image arts and media through a variety of critical theories and/or strategies.

3. Explain the relationships of moving image arts and media to the multiple contexts in which they are embedded.



Legal Studies

Pre-Law: 4 Year Preparation

Legal Studies Minor

Pre-Law: 4 Year Preparation

The minimum requirement for admission to a recognized law school is a bachelor’s degree. Most law schools value intellectual maturity and a broad educational background, such as is provided by majors in the social sciences, natural sciences or humanities, rather than narrow specialization. Well developed research, analysis, oral and written communication skills are considered desirable.

It is suggested that students take the Legal Studies minor and take additional coursework in the following areas: Accounting, Economics, History, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Speech and Writing. For more specific information on an appropriate course of study, see the Pre-Law advisor, who is assigned by the Social Science Division.

Admission to law schools is highly competitive. Applicants are usually expected to achieve an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.00 and perform well on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), although strength in one of these areas may compensate for weakness in the other. The LSAT should be taken early in the senior year.

For more information about preparatory materials, contact the Pre-Law advisor, Dr. Mark Henkels, 838-8554, Bellamy Hall 205,

Legal Studies Minor (23-27 Credits)


Prepares students for success in law school and in fields related to the law. The program serves the university by integrating law-related curriculum and promoting awareness of legal processes and issues.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Critically analyze and effectively communicate about the legal system in speech and writing.
  2. Explain theoretical and practical aspects of the law, the diversity of law-related fields and their roles in society.
  3. Advocate for better understanding of the legal system and issues.


Organizational Leadership Minor

Professor: The organizational leadership minor should be planned with an advisor. For more information, contact one of the Organizational Leadership Advisors: Dr. David Foster (503-838-8805)


Provide students with a trans-disciplinary foundation of knowledge and skills drawn from the fields of business, communication, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and writing. Students will develop and enhance critical skill sets in areas deemed essential in hiring and advancement within organizations including: critical thinking and analytical reasoning; complex problem solving; communication; teamwork; leadership; ethics; and innovation and creativity.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Use critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills to effectively analyze and solve complex problems with creative solutions.
  2. Apply teamwork, leadership, and communication skills to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Explain professional codes of behavior and critically examine ethical questions and issues.


The Organizational Leadership Minor complements any major; providing students with the opportunity to enhance the “soft skills” most sought after by employers. Soft skills include things like effective communicating, critical thinking, complex problem solving, ethical judgment, leadership, teamwork, and intercultural skills. Such skills are needed in every type of industry and organization.

A recent survey of 318 organizations showed that nearly all of the employers believed that certain soft skills were more critical to career success than a student’s major area of study. Additionally, Forbes magazine identified critical thinking, complex problem solving, active listening, and judgment and decision-making as the most in-demand skill-sets for the top jobs of 2013.

The Organizational Leadership Minor will help you stand out from other job applicants by providing real-world experiences to enhance your skills. For example, one team from the Psychology of Leadership class recently developed and implemented a video captioning system for the Office of Disability Services here at WOU. The captioning system increased the accessibility of classroom material for students who are deaf or hard of hearing at virtually no cost for the organization. Potential employers will love to hear about how you developed innovative solutions to significant problems in a team setting.



The organizational leadership minor is 27 credit hours. Students must complete courses in each of the listed categories and at least three of the following disciplines: business; communication; philosophy; political science; psychological science; sociology; or writing. Additionally, a minimum of 15 hours must be upper division credit.


1. My major is business (or psychology; or communication studies); can I still minor in organizational leadership?

Yes, any major can be combined with a minor in organizational leadership. However if a class is used for the minor (e.g., PSY 360) it can’t also be used for the major. In other words, students cannot “double-dip” or use the same course for your major and minor.

2. I am majoring in something other than business or communication studies or psychology); would a minor in organizational leadership help me?

Yes, this minor is would be beneficial for anyone who might work within an organization at some point in their lives. Critical thinking, complex problem solving, communication, creativity, and leadership are skills any employer wants and can be an advantage for any major.

3. Do any of these classes have prerequisites?

Yes, a few of the courses do have prerequisites. However, at least one course in each of the categories does not have a prerequisite attached. There are prerequisites for all of the psychology courses which can be satisfied by (1) taking PSY 201 and PSY 202.

4. Is a practicum required for this minor?

No, a practicum is not required but it is encouraged as it is a great way to get real-world job experience and make connections in any field.


Communication Studies

Department Head: Dr. Dana Schowalter | (503) 838-9240 | | BELL 117