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Academics: Organizational Communication

A Christian perspective on organizational communication

As a major, Organizational Communication serves the mission of both Calvin College and the CAS and Business departments better than the Business Communication major because of its coherence, rigor, broad liberal-arts coursework, increased interdisciplinarity, and focus on preparing students to be agents of renewal in the world.

The Organizational Communication major, which is proposed as a revision to the existing Business Communication group major, advances the missions of the CAS and Business departments. To better equip students for meaningful work in God’s kingdom, this interdisciplinary major allows a sharper focus on  engaged learning, a wide range of exposure to theory and practice through more directed coursework, and balanced attention to  Business and Communication courses, while including exposure to coursework in Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Mathematics and Computer Science.

John Witvliet, Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, in reflecting on the synergies such a program might offer, said, “I, for one, would love to imagine a path that would guide some students to take this major and pair it with a Church, Society, and Ministry minor. That would be a wonderful combination, especially given the significant role that non-profit organizations play in the ecology of North American Christianity” (personal email to Helen Sterk, 9/16/09).  Similarly, Shirley Roels, Director of the Van Lunen Center (and one of the original founders of the Business Communication major) said, “There are significant needs in the church for leaders, lay and ordained, with such framework, knowledge and skills” (personal email to Helen Sterk, 9/21/09).

Many of the core virtues of the college find expression in the newly revised Organizational Communication major. The revised major requires students to establish a basic foundation of courses that build knowledge leading to wisdom and good stewardship of resources. It is crucial that Calvin graduates be able to offer wise counsel leading to sound decision-making. To that end, students take courses ranging from the cognates in probability and statistics, spreadsheet analysis, and principles of economics to more specialized courses in accounting for managers, marketing, ethics, argumentation, and human psychology. In each course, students will be challenged to take seriously issues of stewardship, justice, and compassion, learning how to work honestly in an organization in a way that leads to good care for God’s kingdom.

Finally, the proposed curricular revision meets elements of the Provost’s Strategic Plan 2013, particularly support for professional programs based on a liberal arts foundation (1.A.3), sensitivity to diversity as articulated in the FEN document (1.B.), and interdisciplinary synergy through cross-divisional approaches to learning (2.A.5.).


Calvin College’s vision: “Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God's work in God's world” (http://www.calvin.edu/about/mission.htm).  The CAS department’s mission is seeking “to understand, engage, and renew human communication from a Reformed Christian perspective” (http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/phil/).  The Business Department’s vision is to be a place where the Christian community prepares to lead the transformation of business for the renewal of society according to God’s purposes.