Prabu David: Integrating arts and sciences to prepare students for today's communication world

May 17, 2018

“In our very title you see arts and sciences as being integral to communications,” Prabu David says on MSU Today. David is dean of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

“When people think about communication they think about journalism and making movies; that’s the arts side. There’s also a strong scientific component to communication all the way from stuttering research to political communications to algorhythms that influence our lives. So the arts and the sciences have to be integrated.”

On the college’s highly respected research portfolio that includes topics like immersive media, virtual reality, and computational communication, Dean David says the faculty and students in the college “study communication at various levels from neurons to nations. And that’s what makes us a strong college of communication.”

David talks about his own research on multitasking and about WKAR’s plan to be the first public media television station in the country to start using the new ATSC 3.0 system.

With one of the nation’s most renowned journalism schools in the college, David admits to an erosion of credibility of journalists in the country, but says “at the same time there’s a rebound effect where you see subscriptions up at the Washington Post and New York Times.

“It’s difficult to sort all this out if you’re a 19-year-old coming to campus to understand the role of journalism. It’s difficult, and parents are concerned. But that’s our job – to show people that journalism is a great profession with a lot of possibilities.”

David says students have always wanted a job when they graduate.

“The challenge is how do you deliver on that when the skills students need to hone to be successful are changing rapidly? There are some enduring skills like the ability to think critically, to write well, and to communicate effectively. But that’s easier said than done. Communicating effectively today can mean designing a web page.

“How much emphasis do you place on training students how to do things, and how much emphasis do you place on how they think and train them how to think on their own?”

He says he finds students “to be extremely engaged these days. They have a mission and they’re driven to make a difference. I find that to be a great source of motivation.”

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.