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How Communication Scholars Think and Act

A Lifespan Perspective


Julien C. Mirivel

Every great scholar begins as a student. But what does it take to get there? And what is the journey like? This book explores the lifespan development of some of the best-known communication scholars in the United States. Grounded in 30 in-depth interviews, personal stories, and communication theory, the book reveals the nature of human development, the curvature of disciplinary thinking, and the values that drive communication professionals. With powerful examples from great thinkers and teachers such as Robert Craig, Valerie Manusov, and Gerry Philipsen, the book shows that communicating well is a slow, gradual awakening toward others. How Communication Scholars Think and Act is designed to inspire students and faculty alike to persevere in the face of setbacks, to learn about communication more deeply, and to improve human relationships across contexts. This is an ideal text for courses in communication theory, interpersonal communication, and introductory courses to the field. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to become a communication professional.

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Chapter 9. What Can We Learn From Communication Professors?


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My colleague Kristen McIntyre has a cartoon on her door that is pretty accurate. It’s about success. On the left frame, there is an arrow that moves in a straight line from the bottom left to the top right. This is what most people think success looks like. On the right frame, however, the cartoon proposes a different perspective: “what success really looks like.” The arrow begins on the bottom left, but as it moves up, it becomes a scribble of a mess, with the line tossing and turning, up and down, left and right, and upside down, creating circles of doom along the way. Then, it picks back up in a straight line until it reaches the top right corner of the page. This image is appropriate to understand the nature of success, but it can also give us insight into the process of building a career.

As I defined it in Chapter 1, members of the communication professorate are people dedicated to the study of human communication. They are individuals who throughout their careers have studied, reflected, and written on, as well as taught others, the art and science of communication. A communication professor may have many jobs: they may serve as a faculty member, a chair of a department, or dean of a college. They may be leading scholars or influential teachers. They may serve as president of a...

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