GREENVILLE, Pa.—Starting this fall, Thiel College will be one of the few accredited colleges or universities in the United States to offer a specialized bachelor’s degree that combines religion with media and journalism.
The new Bachelor of Arts in religion communication will be jointly offered by Thiel College’s Department of Religion and Department of Media, Communication and Public Relations. It will be a one-of-kind program in the U.S., according to the College’s James Pedas Professor of Communication and Department Chair Dane S. Claussen, Ph.D. The program will offer two course tracks. A religious broadcasting track will prepare students for professional positions such as producer, director, and/or writer at religious television stations, religious cable television channels, and religious radio stations. A religion journalism track will train students for careers as religion reporters at print, broadcast and online media outlets.
“At no time in history has the need for communicating about faith and values been greater. Thiel College is taking a bold step with its new [religion] communication major,” Professor of Journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Executive Director of the Religion Newswriters Foundation Debra Mason, Ph.D. said. “It stands out as unique among today’s best-known communication programs.”
Unlike religion and media programs at other colleges and universities, Thiel College’s religion communication undergraduate major is an in-depth course of study, Claussen said. Other institutions have minors, specializations, concentrations or certificate programs under the communication or religion departments, but Thiel College is going far beyond that to offer the religion communication major, he said.
“Thiel College’s new religious broadcasting program offers students the opportunity to obtain a unique degree that includes extensive coursework in media and in religion. The religion journalism program offers students the opportunity to become highly trained religion reporters at a time when religion news is as important as ever and when editors in all media are increasingly demanding specialized and expert journalists,” Claussen said.
Religion communication students will complete their communication courses in Thiel College’s state-of-the-art James Pedas Communication Center, which opened in 2014. Thiel College is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA), but the major is for students of all faiths.
About the James Pedas Communication Center
The 20,000-square-foot Pedas Center is home to the high-definition television studio, radio station, College newspaper, Department of Communication, and Office of Admission. The academic spaces in the $6.8 million building include the amphitheater-style Stamm Lecture Hall, flexible classrooms and collaborative areas, and a 24-hour computer lab with more than 20 computers. Trustee emeritus Dr. James Pedas ’50, H’89, is a movie and music producer, real estate developer, and entrepreneur. The Farrell, Pa., native provided the lead gift for the Pedas Center. Students from all majors benefit from the Pedas Communication Center as they get instruction and guidance on how to incorporate modern communication methods into their professional lives. The Pedas Center was recognized in February 2015 as Thiel College’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building for its conservation techniques and commitment to renewable resources.
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