Oswego dean co-edits noted communication textbook for graduate students


May 29, 2019

Kristen C. Eichhorn, dean of graduate studies at SUNY Oswego, recently co-edited the third edition of a respected textbook, Routledge's "An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research," and now is poised to take over as lead editor for the fourth edition.

"I already have thoughts on that (fourth edition)," said Eichhorn, a former chair of communication studies for the college. "I've written texts but never edited one before. I used this text as a graduate student." 

The first edition was published in 1996, the second in 2007. The 608-page 2019 edition features several new chapters by leading researchers, Eichhorn said.

Current and former SUNY Oswego communication studies faculty members, respectively, each contributed a chapter for the third edition: Jason Zenor, an associate professor who specializes in media law and economics, and Fritz Messere, a professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, who writes about privacy rights and the First Amendment.

The new edition -- updated throughout -- maintains a bedrock first chapter: "Integrating Theory and Research: Starting with Questions," by the book's founding editors, Don W. Stacks, now professor emeritus of corporate communication and public relations in the School of Communication at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, and Miami colleague Michael B. Salwen, a journalism professor who passed away in 2007.

Eichhorn was Stacks' first doctoral advisee at the University of Miami. He asked Eichhorn to step in as co-editor for the latest edition and has asked her to lead the textbook going forward, she said.

The book seeks to keep up with the growth of the communication field while challenging assumptions about traditional theories that are influenced by social media, privacy issues and the current political environment.

Ten new chapters have been designed for this edition. "Part of my role in this was to think about new chapters," Eichhorn said.  In the digital age, views around media effects, social movements and the development of relationships are all being challenged and/or redefined, she added.

Evolving research

Messere's chapter is titled "Privacy Issues in Communication" and Zenor's is "Communication and the Law." Other new chapters include emerging areas; for example, “Social Support and Health Outcomes," "Instructional Communication,” “Delineating the Dark Side of Communication" and “Relational Communication.”  Rapidly changing technology in mass communication influenced the need for additional new chapters in areas such as “Digital Media” and “Internet Communication.”

The book brings theory and research up to date in media gatekeeping, the media's agenda-setting roles, advertising and more; the human communication section includes updated offerings on persuasion, intrapersonal communication, nonverbal communication and other topics.

Royalties from the sale of "An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research," Eichhorn said, go to two national organizations -- the National Communication Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication -- to provide graduate student assistance for conference travel expenses.

When asked what one can expect in the next edition, Eichhorn said, “Definitely a chapter on Environmental Communication." And with the pace of developments in both theory and research in communication, it may have to come sooner than 11 years, she said.

"What are the newer theories and the more integrated theories? Who are the seminal scholars? Who is doing the most profound work?" Eichhorn wondered rhetorically. "The theories evolve, the research evolves, often in ways we can't predict. I'm just so thrilled about it. It's wonderful to work with all of these scholars."

"An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research," third edition, is available on Routledge's website, at Amazon.com and the sites of other textbook retailers. For more information on communication studies at SUNY Oswego, visit oswego.edu/communication-studies.

Growing role -- Kristen Eichhorn, dean of graduate studies at SUNY Oswego, recently both helped edit the latest edition of the textbook "An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research" and accepted an offer to take over the lead editing role for a fourth edition some years hence.