By Erin Hylen ’19
Arts & Life Editor
Starting this 2017-2018 academic year, Dr. Christine Gardner is heading the Communication Arts Department.
“True confession: I did not major in Communications as an undergrad,” Gardner shares. “I was a history major! Shout-out to all of the history majors. I wanted a truly Christian liberal arts degree. I wanted a program that would teach me to think critically, and write and speak articulately, and, at the time, I didn’t see the discipline of communication as being able to do that. Which is totally wrong. This is exactly the field to be able to hone those skills.”
Gardner, who joined Gordon’s Communication Arts Department faculty in January 2017, began studying communication as a graduate student at Northwestern University after receiving her B.A. from Seattle Pacific University. She now specializes in rhetoric and cultural sociology, focusing particularly on gender and sexuality.
“I think what draws me to the discipline is that it truly is a field where you can explore what God is doing in the world,” Gardner says. “For me, communication is about community building. It’s about communion with one another, and it’s about understanding how the symbols we use in everyday life, whether it’s images or text-based, how those symbols are functioning to craft our understanding of reality.”
Gardner works alongside Communication Arts faculty members Dr. Grace Chiou, Professor Scott Thurman, Academic Advisor Peter Morse, Adjunct Eric Convey, and Dr. Clifford Hersey, who previously served as Department Chair.
“I have heard in the past that the communications department has lacked enough great staff to be a great department at Gordon,” says Business major, Jesse Bowman ‘18. “However, I started taking two [communications] courses this semester, and I feel like I honestly missed out on not taking more.”
Communication Arts major Alana Trischitti ‘18 adds, “Each [Communication Arts] professor has had a great influence on me, giving me a sense of confidence to be well-rounded and prepared to take on life after college.”
“We’re going through a full review this year of our curriculum,” Gardner shares, “with the full support of the Provost’s office.”
The aim of this review, Gardner says, is to “look really carefully to make sure that the things that we’re offering are what we should be offering, to both meet the needs of our students and position them for the kinds of jobs and world that we can’t even yet imagine.”
She adds, “It’s not just making sure that we’re training our students for the jobs they will get right out of college, but making sure that they have the—to quote Eugene Peterson—
‘God-drenched imagination’ and the critical skills to either create the jobs of the future, or to be able to respond to a new kind of professional marketplace that we can’t even imagine today.”
Gardner also shares that she and the Communication Arts faculty aim to foster a strong community through department events, where students and faculty can come together to get to know one another and discuss and practice their craft.
“Drawing us together as a department is important to us,” Gardner says. “I believe strongly, as do my colleagues, in the power of prayer, and the community of the communication arts department is not just our current faculty and students, but the students who have gone before,” she said. [Current] Students can look for a film night [this year]—we did some of those last year. We’re exploring a possible film series on campus, as well as more ‘come-hang-out-in-the-bistro with your awesome fellow communication majors and professors’ events! We’ve got some guest lecturers that we’re hoping to bring to campus, as well as opportunities for public speaking and debate.”
Gardner’s says her hope for students within the communication department is “that they understand, as the Psalmist writes, that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, and it is all worthy of our study.”
She adds, “…It’s not just about the study of communication. It really is about this other journey that we’re all on, and the study of communication is the means through which we can really uncover our end purpose, which is to know God and love Him more. It’s as simple as that. As simple, and complex, as that.”