University Network

Ohio University - Communication and Development Studies


In the relatively short time since its conception, the Communication and Development Studies has seen remarkable success.  Dr. Josep Rota, the current director of the Center for International Studies and the faculty member who directed the program through most of its first decade, said it took less than a year to bring the program from concept to actuality.

Dr. Rota and his colleagues, mostly in the School of Telecommunications, started talking about a new communication and development studies program in 1984, but most of the real work was done between 1985 and 1986. “How we did it in one year I still do not know, but the fact is we did it and in September of 1986 the first two students entered the program.”

Appropriately, one of those two students, Dr. Vibert Cambridge, succeeded Dr. Rota as the next director of the program. Dr. Rota said the students who have come through the program are probably the most important resource the program has. “We have attracted really extraordinary human beings - students who have been a wonderful resource for the program, for the faculty, for the other students and have gone on to wonderful careers.”

In the fall of 2001, Dr. Drew McDaniel of the School of Telecommunications took over as director of the CommDev program. "The key to the success of our program is the marriage of two areas of excellence at Ohio University - the College of Communication and the Center for International Studies - to build a unique synergy."

Dr. David Mould, Professor of Telecommunications, assumed directorship of CommDev in July 2002. "CommDev continues to attract people who are deeply committed to social change and to helping others. We're working to prepare professionals who have the practical skills, the adaptability and the cultural sensitivity to work anywhere in the world, and we're really proud that our graduates are making a difference - in areas from public health and education to the environment and human rights," says Dr. Mould. "It's a complex world - globalization and media technology present as many problems as opportunities. But I'm confident that CommDev students are ready to meet these challenges."

In fall of 2006, Dr. Rafael Obregon took over as a Director of CommDev program. The turn of the 21st century has brought with it new and daunting challenges especially when it comes to redefining human development. The conundrum, however, of where the world might have gone wrong in terms of development may be resolved by training more development communicators. The CommDev Director muses, “CommDev studies will continue attracting top students from all over the world and contributing to the solution of global development problems through our alumni and faculty. Our new challenge is to build upon the strong reputation the program has developed over the years and become a key player in communication for development and social change initiatives emerging worldwide."

Today, the program expects to enroll about 12 to 15 students in their first year of study each September. Screening of applications for each intake begins in the preceding January. The number of students typically pursuing the degree now totals about 30.

Description of the Program

Communication & Development Studies isone offive academic programs leading to a Master's degree in International Affairs (MAIA). Created in 1964, Ohio University's MAIA degree complements Ohio University's longstanding global outreach. The Communication & Development Studies program is jointly sponsored by the Center for International Studies and by the School of Telecommunications.
Study in Communication & Development stresses the use of communication to promote and support positive social development. The curriculum includes interdisciplinary perspectives on national development, area studies, and training in applied research methods, as described below. Students select an area of specialization from a variety of options such as campaign design, conflict resolution, social marketing, distance education, entertainment-education, environmental studies, new information technologies, participatory research for development, tropical public health, and radio, television and multimedia production. Students must also demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English.

Faculty members in Communication & Development Studies are actively involved in development projects in Africa, Asia, CIS, and Baltic Republics, Latin America, and naturally in the United States. Typically, two thirds of students come from outside the United States and they represent all areas of the world.

Mission Statement

The Communication and Development Studies program at Ohio University is devoted to multidiscplinary teaching of, and research on, the utilization of information and communication systems and processes to promote national and regional development, to support specific development projects, and to facilitate social change. Rather than expecting students to simply learn and adopt established theories, premises, methods, priorities, values, and practices, the program emphasizes training that gives students the flexibility to critically adapt what they learn to their own world as they experience it. Students are encouraged to develop their own unique approaches to national or regional development, and the role of information and communication, more in tune with their needs and their countries' requirements as determined by social, political, cultural, and economic realities.

The Communication and Development Studies program seeks to contribute to Ohio University's excellence in the fields of communication, development studies, and international affairs; to the university's commitment to international programs, and to its vocation of service to the community. Activities aimed at accomplishing these goals include the coordination of a program of study that leads to a master's degree; the support of faculty and student research; the development and maintenance of resources necessary for teaching, learning, and research; networking with relevant organizations in the field, and promotion of the program, its activities, and its faculty and students both nationally and internationally.


The Communication and Development Studies program is jointly administered by the School of Telecommunications and the Center for International Studies. The program has a curriculum that allows students to enroll in courses offered by a variety of disciplines across the university. The curriculum requires each student to select courses in: Telecommunications; Area Studies such as Africa, Latin America, or Southeast Asia; individual professional specializations such as public relations, management, or media production; development theory and applications, and research and information tools. As part of the practical training emphasis of the program, each student must also complete a field study or internship.

Additionally, during their second year, students work in teams to design and execute a service learning project with a local community organization. All students must demonstrate proficiency in a language applicable to the geographic area of study other than English.Two years are normally required to complete the 70 credit-hour, with time permitting for field study or internship.

In the second year, students work in teams to design and execute a formal communication campaign. Each student must also complete a field study or internship. All demonstrate proficiency in a language applicable to the geographic area of study. Normally, two years are required to complete the 70 credit-hour minimum.


Dr. Rafael Obregon
Communication & Development Studies Program
Room 097, RTVC Building,
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
Telephone: 740-593-4856

View All Articles