The History of the School

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University of Johannesburg: School of Communication

History & Mandate

The School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg is a vibrant centre of learning in heartland of the South African economy, Johannesburg. The School of Communication was established in 2009, but the roots of its academic programmes reach back to 1972 with the establishment of the Department of Communications at the then Rand Afrikaans University. The Department grew in stature under the leadership of Professors Tom de Koning, Nina Overton-De Klerk and Sonja Verwey.

The Department witnessed a turning point in 1998 when it revised its curriculums and developed four (initially five) career-focused degrees under the direction of the then Head of Department, Professor Sonja Verwey. Due to the success of these degrees the Department became one of the largest in the University, further boasting marketplace recognition making it one of the leading communication departments in South Africa.

On 1 January 2005, the University of Johannesburg came into being after two years of negotiations. The Department of Communication at RAU merged with the Department of Public Relations Management at the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR) as part of the institutional merger of RAU and TWR. The new Department was the only Department of Communication in South Africa offering a whole range of qualifications from certificate courses to doctoral studies. The new qualification gave the Department a unique and strategic advantage.

In January 2009, the Department of Communication reconstituted as the School of Communication. This marked an exciting new chapter in its history. In January 2010 three departments came into being within the School: Strategic Communication, Journalism, Film and Television and Communication and Media Studies.

In 2018, the School embarked on a large-scale recurriculisation process by combining its previous nine undergraduate majors into two: Communication, Media, and Strategic Communication. In addition, the School, through the Department of Strategic Communications, offers the Diploma: Public Relations and Communication Management as well as an Extended Diploma in Public Relations and Communication Management.

The teaching and research of the School focus on media and communication studies, strategic communication, journalism, screen studies, digital media. Our programmes are highly customisable and will enable students to help shape the world of work and broader society.

Vision Statement

The School of Communication strives to build a society where ethical consciousness and accountability contribute to the development of just and equal societies, in South Africa, Africa, and beyond. We strive to develop the full potential of young people so that they can shape the world of tomorrow as independent and responsible members of society, who think critically and apply knowledge in a meaningful way. We are here to inspire growth and to empower students to realise their power, their voice and their purpose.

Mission Statement

The mission of the School of Communication is to stimulate critical thinking, imagination, thoughtful expression and independent learning– skills necessary for the 21st-century world of work. In pursuit of this mission, the School has developed innovative, inter-disciplinary and decolonised curricula that strives to provide a dynamic environment designed to empower and engage students to become skilled, ethical and active global citizens and professionals. Our programmes offer practical experience with theoretical course work to help students understand and appreciate the crucial role of media in our society.

Strategic Goals

To realise its vision and mission, the School of Communication has devised the following strategic objectives:

  • Use an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning;
  • Utilise technology to promote interactive pedagogy and authentic learning;
  • Nurture a culture of excellence in research, scholarship and creative endeavours, enhancing the School’s local, national and international research profile; and
  • Promote an ethical commitment to the public through integrated community engagement.