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Traditions of Communication Sciences


Lobinger K.

Course director


The course is divided into two main themes: 

1. Basic terms of communication sciences
After a general introduction into the course contents, the main concepts of communication sciences will be discussed and deconstructed. Among other questions, we will focus on the concept of communication itself. We will elaborate what communication is – and what communication is not. This is important to limit and narrow the field of inquiry. We will also discuss the key notion “medium”. What is a medium? What are different definitions of media? Are communication sciences necessarily concerned with mediated communication? This session will be based on selected readings that are announced in the preparatory meeting session on October 6, 2022. Students will prepare short oral presentations that summarize these texts. Moreover, students will be asked to discuss how they use these basic concepts in their own research.

2. Mapping the field and locating the own project
In the second session, we will look at some of the involved disciplines, various “founding texts” or “founding approaches” and selected core theories of communication sciences and put them in relation to each other. This mapping exercise shall help create an overview of communication sciences. We will particularly focus on research that is located at the intersections of the involved disciplines. Students will again present the mandatory readings in oral presentations and locate their own approach within the conceptual map. It will be of particular interest which interrelations do exist between the involved interdisciplinary traditions, how concepts migrate between disciplines and what the involved disciplinary approaches can learn from one another.
At the end of the session, Ph.D. students will position their own research in the map. They will be asked to discuss which other approaches are related to or could be helpful for their project(s). After the second session they will write a short comment (max. 500 words) that sums up these reflections. 


The term “communication sciences” (mind the plural!) highlights the fact that communication is studied and theorized from various disciplinary angles, including very different approaches and theoretical lenses. This high interdisciplinarity of communication sciences can be considered the beauty and the beast at the same time. The beauty because it gives researchers great flexibility in thinking about social, cultural, and technical aspects of communication and focus on these aspects from different perspectives. The beast because transdisciplinarity complicates situating and locating one’s own research without getting lost in interdisciplinarity. 

This course will tackle these questions and has two main aims:

  • to foster the creation of common ground among Ph.D. students in communication and
  • to help students locate their own work. 

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

After an introduction by Professor Katharina Lobinger, Ph.D. students will present the mandatory readings that serve as the basis on which the further work and discussions in class are grounded. Besides these short presentations, the sessions will be organized in discussion groups and workshops. At the end of each session, students are given time to prepare their written statements. Additional space will be dedicated to bottom-up requests stemming from discussions in class. 

Examination information

The evaluation of the course will be based on the following items: 

1. A preliminary 300 words statement containing the following information:  1) topic of the Ph.D. research, 2) indication of the tradition of communication science the participant is most familiar with and 3) a list of three publications that are most relevant for the Ph.D. research. (If possible, please include the PDF files.) The statement must be submitted one week before the preparatory meeting (and thus on September 29, 2022) on iCorsi. Please kindly also indicate in which of the following languages you feel comfortable reading scientific texts (English, German, Italian, French). 

2. In class-resentations (max. 10 minutes, around 5-8 slides per assigned text). The presentations should summarize the main concepts of the assigned readings (see the file “Reading List & Preparation” that will be handed out during the preparatory meeting.

3. Discussion in class and contributions to the course Wiki (see iCorsi for further information).

4. A short comment (max 500 words), to be submitted after the second session.