Celebrating 35 years of "CommDev"

CommDev students enjoying the traditional international potluck held every year during the fall semester
Angela Lewers
March 1, 2022

This year we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Communication and Development Studies program (CommDev), which focuses on using communication to promote social change. This program is one of the few master’s degree programs in the world that focuses on this topic of communication and social change.

“The program was founded by Media Studies faculty to address the interdisciplinary nature of communication and its intersectionality with development studies," said Saumya Pant, CommDev director. "The core curriculum of CommDev reflects the communication for social change approach. Even after 35 years, CommDev continues to attract students from all over the world. CommDev is where the world comes together!” 

Q & A with Dr. Saumya Pant

Dr. Pant is the director of the Communication and Development Studies program

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

A: I am an activist, a teacher, a mother, and a woman who is passionate about using communication strategies for social change and transformation. I have been an activist with more than twenty years’ experience working with grassroots communities on areas of equity and empowerment. Some of the topics I have expertise in relate to communication for social change, gender equity, gender empowerment, participatory community-based research, field-based research design and implementation, participatory theater for development and entertainment education media strategy for social change. With being a strong writer and scholar with established publication record, extensive teaching, and research experience across four continents, I have worked on several projects funded by international agencies. In my free time, I enjoy playing dholak and singing north Indian folk songs, cooking with my daughters, and watching lots of Bollywood entertainment.

Q: How long have you been with the program?

A: I have been the Director of Communication and Development Studies since 2018. I am also a faculty in School of Media Arts and Studies, Scripps College of Communication.

Q: How many students have come through this program?

It has been a pleasure and honor to work with the students who come from all over the world. This year we have 22 students in our program (Year 1 and 2) who come from 14 different countries. It is a program that is 35 years old. We have more than 370 alumni that we can trace.

M.A. Student Spotlight

Victor Kojo Dei, Student

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: I am from Ghana, West Africa. I have a bachelor degree in African Studies, a master’s degree in International Studies and currently in my first year of the M.A. Communication and Development Studies program at Ohio University.

Q: What is the work that you do in this program?

A: I am part of the social media team that works to advance the program’s visibility on Facebook specifically. I am also part of the organizing committee that is planning the 35th anniversary program.

Q: What are some benefits you see form joining the program?

The benefits are enormous, but key amongst them is the opportunity to interact with people from different cultures, deepening my understanding of the world, and appreciating our cultural diversity. To me, this is key to our human development.

Q: How have you liked it so far?

It has been an excellent experience so far. Still looking forward to more exciting moments of learning in the coming years.

Q: Any additional quotes or thoughts?

A: You can be whoever you want to be only if you stay focused on your goals.

M.A. Student Spotlight

Paul Celi

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: My name is Paul Celi and I am from Lima, Peru. I am in my first year of the Communication and Development Studies master program at Ohio University. After working in the digital marketing industry for many years, I decided to focus my expertise on digital communication for social change.

Q: What is the work that you do in this program?

A: I am part of the social media team, helping with design for events.

Q: What are the benefits you see from enrolling in the program?

I will say that the opportunity to interact and share experiences with people from different parts of the world.

Q: How have you liked it so far?

A: So far, this is the most rewarding experience in my life.

Q: Any additional quotes or thoughts?

A: From the very beginning, my interest in the Communication & Development Studies program offered by Ohio University was focused on learning new communication techniques to help communities have a voice and representation while promoting social change. This program is giving me the tools I need to develop new strategies and innovation in communication processes within a global vision. Choosing to be part of the CommDev family was the best decision I ever took.

What is to Come

With a series of plans made for the year, the CommDev program is forever growing. We will be hosting three special colloquia in February, March and April. The first one was held February 25, titled, Reflecting on the Trajectories of Comm Dev. Dr. Rota, the founder of CommDev and Ms. Palmer, one of the first graduate students of Comm Dev, reflected on their journey being a part of the program.

In November, we will be hosting a two-day event on campus and are inviting alumni from around the world. There will be a series of panel discussions and cultural celebrations. It will be an event you won’t want to miss!