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Jay Baldwin, Ph.D.

English and Communication
Assistant Professor of Communication

111 King Hall
Hours: TBD




Ph.D., Comparative Literature & Cultural Studies, University of Arkansas, 2015.
M.A., Leadership & Communication Studies, Gonzaga University, 2007.
B.A., Mass Communication, Fort Lewis College, 2004.


On Human Communication…

Models of human communication abound. The phenomenon has variously been described in terms of transmission, transaction, and the transcendental. Many definitions focus on the notion of sharing information, often for the purpose of modifying another’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Alternatively, James Carey argued that “Communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed.”* In this view, communication is more than the efficient transmission of information; it is the process by which social life is made possible. To borrow from Matt Ridley, communication is how ideas have sex.

In my view, traditional communication studies would benefit from acknowledging the role of evolution by natural selection in social and cultural life (i.e., the role played by our biocultural human nature in our representations and interpretations of material and socially constructed realities). Given such a perspective, communication is conceived as a driving force of both our biological and cultural evolution, reciprocally.**

Students interested in careers in law, public policy, business, government, media, and/or education, or those planning to attend graduate school should consider the Bachelor’s of Writing and Communication or  Agricultural Communication as foundational to their professional development.

*Carey, James (1975) A Cultural Approach to Communication.
Lull, James & Neiva, Eduardo (2012) The Language of Life.

Teaching Philosophy

The late Neil Postman once observed that the most important job of any teacher is to develop in students a finely-tuned “crap-detector.” He said that in 1969 while speaking at a national conference of English teachers. It’s as true today as it was then. We live in a media-saturated environment (the ‘mediasphere’). Consequently, we are routinely bombarded by “information,” persuasive messages and unsupported “facts,” often designed to serve the speaker’s agenda or to satisfy biases. Cutting through all the clutter (what Postman called, “bullshit”) is among the more important skills any student should learn. It is both necessary self-defense against damaging ignorance and critical to making the world a better place. Communication students at ABAC learn not only how to craft ethical and effective messages, but learn to become competent consumers of messages. As a teacher, I am less concerned (although not unconcerned) with transmitting knowledge, and more concerned with developing the thinking skills of evaluation, interpretation, synthesis, and rational argument.

Research Interests

  • Evolutionary (Darwinian) approaches to socio-cultural phenomena;
  • Cultural evolution, naturalistic social constructivism; communication & emergent orders;
  • Film and television (esp. film noir and the police procedural);
  • Mass communication and ethics.

Ten books every undergraduate student should read while in school, regardless of major:

  1. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins.
  2. The Cultural Animal, by Roy Baumeister.
  3. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, by Karl Popper.
  4. 1776, by David McCullough.
  5. The Problem of Political Authority, by Michael Huemer.
  6. Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt (available online free and in audio book here).
  7. The Social Construction of Reality, by Peter Berger.
  8. Candide, by Voltaire (free ebook at Project Gutenberg).
  9. The Arabian Nights (new deluxe edition, 2008), by Muhsin Mahdi.
  10. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Lewis Stevenson (free ebook).


Intro. to Public Relations (Comm 3850)

Designed for those new to public relations, this introductory course will survey the discipline including the professional foundation of ethics, law, and theory as well as the process, audiences, and professional practice areas. Students will focus on the historic and contemporary roles of public relations in society. Spring.

Intercultural Communication (Comm 3325)

People the world over are exactly the same, only different. Groups of human beings, regardless of their geographical location or ethnicity, express long lists of both universal and particular social behaviors (ways of living). These ways of living, known as culture, are passed down from older generations to younger via social learning. This makes communication within any single society possible while at the same time resulting in differences that become obstacles to clear communication between and among people of different cultures, which in turn can hinder international trade, foreign relations, and worldwide cooperation. This course explores the ways in which clear understandings between peoples of different cultures is achieved.

Professional Communication (Comm 3100)


» *Job Outlook 2014, NACE

Research maintains that employers seek graduates who can obtain, process, and share information, both orally and in writing, with audiences inside and outside of their organizations.* This course explores various modes of professional communication with the objective of developing skills in the production of messages, including goal-setting, research, and style. This is not a basic skills course. It is assumed that students already possess basic writing and speaking skills. Here, we will refine and focus these skills into your own professional style and voice. Students have broad latitude to self-direct their own learning by researching and communicating technical information of their own choosing to their peers.

Public Speaking (Comm 1110)

Designed to develop techniques in research, organization and delivery of different types of speeches; to develop communication skills including the clear, concise, effective oral presentation of ideas; and to develop an acceptable speaking voice. Fall, Spring, Summer.

Human Communication (Comm 1100)

What does it mean to be human? What is meant by “communication”? How does communication make us human? We’ll pursue these questions while developing broad-based oral communication skills, focusing on public speaking, interpersonal and small group communication. Fall, Spring, Summer.

Speical Topics in Communication: The Police Procedural (Comm 4891)

For much of its history crime drama succeeded without much of an official police presence. Prior to
1948, police, if represented at all, were at best secondary characters in most crime fiction—
the archetypal literary case being Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, who always was one step behind
Sherlock Holmes. Even crime films of the ‘20s, ’30s, and ‘40s focused more on non-police characters,
mostly private-eyes and gangsters, than they did cops. Since 1948, however, the police officer is
regularly the central protagonist in these stories. What changed? Perhaps more importantly, what have been the social consequences, if any, of this role reversal for American culture and society? In this course we’ll trace the historical events and socio-cultural conditions that led to the emergence of a new sub-genre of crime drama known as the police procedural, and explore its relationship to art and storytelling, psychology and media effects, human nature and culturally constructed social attitudes about police and policing, crime and criminality, urbanity and rurality.