Elizabeth Gardner Joins Faculty

We are happy to announce that Elizabeth Gardner will join our department starting Fall 2016. Professor Gardner's specialty is in the rhetoric of civic engagement and social change, and she is looking forward to teaching courses in communication criticism, public discourse, argumentation, and public speaking. After graduating from Houghton College in communication and political science, Elizabeth earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, where she is currently the managing director of the Oral Communicaton Program. In 2014 Elizabeth received the National Communication Association's Bensen-Campbell Dissertation Research Award. During the spring of 2015 Elizabeth was a consultant for the American Studies Program in Washington, D.C, a program she enjoyed as an undergraduate. Her recent research has focused on social change and the rhetorical construction of childhood. Her dissertation examines the use of argument in the night messenger service reform, a campaign in the anti-child labor movement of the early 1900s aimed at raising the minimum age for telegraph company messengers.

When asked about how she sees the relationship between her faith and her scholarship, Dr. Gardner says: Humans convey their values and ideologies through communication, and the study of rhetoric equips us to examine these assumptions. In Living Speech, James Boyd White speaks of the "empire of force" that is present in our words – the clichés and false language that we use uncritically. He reiterates the challenge of recent communication scholarship to examine the assumptions embedded in language and its implications. I believe that Christians are called to the same task – to thoughtfully consider the messages that we consume. As Christians, we are also called to "seek the welfare of the city" (Jeremiah 29:7)). I believe that this command calls us to go beyond critique to promote positive engagement and discourse. This view has caused me to consider the questions I ask in my research. For instance, at a basic level, who is allowed to participate in a dialogue? And what types of arguments are valued? I also desire to carry this challenge into my teaching as I work with students to improve their skills as communicators and their ability to analyze discourse. God has communicated with his people through signs and symbols, and we understand who we are and the world around us through language. I believe that the communication discipline allows us to equip students to analyze discourse, craft communication, and to inspect concepts in light of their values. E Gardner



Students Study Peace and Pilgrimage in N. Ireland

Westmont in L/Derry May 2016


Fourteen students earned nine units upon completing the 2016 study abroad seminar, Belfast to Santiago: Reconciling Memory & the Way of Peace. After studying peace and reconciliation in Ireland and Northern Ireland, students traveled to Spain to walk the final 120 km of the Camino de Santiago as peregrinos. (Photo above is following the walking tour of Derry/Londonderry - or as Martin taught us to call it, Legenderry!).

Alumni Starting Grad School Fall 2015:

  • Selina Doran, Master of Arts in Communication at Northwestern University
  • Kelsey Lahr, Master of Arts in Communication at the University of Utah
  • Sara Reinis, Master of Arts in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University
  • Madeline Weiss, MS in Higher Education, Student Affairs, at Pennsylvania State University

Com Majors Travel to Germany, Ireland, and the UK for Mayterm 2014: Berlin to Belfast - Reconciling Memory

Mayterm 2014 at Corrymeela Ballycastle Northern IrelandSeventeen students studied reconciliation and memory during the summer session. Students studied peace and reconciliation through examining sites of struggle and places of remembrance, through meeting eyewitnesses to history, conflict, tragedy and reconciliation. Places visited included: Berlin, Dresden, Belfast, Londonderry/Derry, Rostrevor, Dublin, London, and Coventry. We also planted potatoes in Ireland, raised funds for playground equipment for disabled children, and worshipped in many different spaces and places.

Alumni Starting Grad School Fall 2014:

  • Renee Engberg, Masters in Education at Santa Clara University
  • Felix Huang, Masters in Public Policy at the University of Southern California
  • Joshua MacFawn, the Masters in Health Administration at the University of Southern California
  • Audrey Uhland, law school at the University of Southern California
  • Alison Yeh, Masters in Communication at San Diego State University

And speaking of graduate school - Kirby Ifland graduated with honors from Harvard Law School this past spring, Ben Watson graduated from his dual JD/MA program in International and Comparative Law at American University, and Lauren (Cano) Amaro graduated with her Ph.D. from Arizona State University in Communication. She is now a professor at Pepperdine. Lisa (Brown) Raser, who finished her Ph.D. last year, is now a professor at Humbold State University in Communication.

Com Grads & Prof Honored at Commencement 2013

Two com majors were honored on stage - Kristin Lo and J.J. Turbin. Lo, who served as Westmont College Student Association president, earned the Dave Dolan Award for contributing to the awareness and response to the social and spiritual needs of the community, the nation and the world.Turbin earned the Dean’s Award as the outstanding male graduate who demonstrated excellence in the classroom and made superior contributions to an athletic team. Turbin earned All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors playing center field for the Warriors baseball team. And Dr. Omedi Ochieng was honored with the 2013 Outstanding Teacher Award in the humanities.

Plato on the Lawn, Fall 2012

Plato on the Lawn 2012

He Leadeth Me Beside...The Roiling Waters

On April 16th, Visiting Professor Dr. Michael Graves described some of the ways his Quaker beliefs have steered his scholarly pursuits in rhetoric. Of particular interest was his discussion of the "inward light of Christ."

Com Majors Study Pilgrimage

Com Majors in Madaba Jordan with Youssef

Students studied the construction of sacred pilgrimage in Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and England, visiting sites from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to Kilmainham Gaol to Canterbury Cathedral. Along the way, we asked what makes a site truthful? How do sites come to be holy or sacred? Mostly, we learned that people and hospitality make any pilgrimage more holy.

Open for Debate Spring 2012

SChris Kyle Open for Debate 2012pecial thanks to Professor Omedi Ochieng for another stellar debate tournament. Kacie Kyne, Com Studies major, was co-director of the tournament. See the story from Public Affairs: Senior religious studies majors Chris Kyle Chris Kyle and Kaitlyn Turner were the big winners at the 16th annual Tournament of Expressions Speech and Debate Tournament Feb. 28. Kyle and Turner each earned $500 for winning the debate and speech portions respectively. The tournament was funded by the Westmont Provost’s Office and a generous gift from Montecito resident Jean Svoboda. Sophomore philosophy major Megan Monroe won second-place and $250 in the debate contest, which focused on the question of whether it should be legal for people to sell their organs. Kyle, who is from San Diego, and Monroe, who is from Tustin, were the final two students out of 54 who signed up for the debate category of the event.
The great speeches student finalists included second-place winner Sara Reinis ’14 ($250) and third-place winner Bri Popineau ’14 ($150). Turner’s winning speech was “The Perils of Indifference” by Elie Wiesel. Allen Hopkins ’95, an alumnus, Westmont trustee and ESPN sportscaster, emceed the event.

Students Meet David Gergen

Several com majors heard political analyst David Gergen speak to a sold-out crowd at UCSB's Cambell Hall December 1, and then joined about 15 other Westmont students for a private session with Gergen afterwards. Gergen expressed his belief that the most "put-together" people are anchored by family, faith, and friends. David Gergen and Westmont Students


Com Alums Start Graduate School

Several recent graduates are enrolled in programs this fall:

  • Vanassa Hamra, the Draper Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University
  • Kelsey Lahr, Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University
  • Stephanie (Strasner) Stout at Whittier Law School
  • Cameron Sublett in the doctoral program for Educational Leadership at UCSB; and
  • Ben Watson in the dual JD/MA program in International and Comparative Law at American University, Washington College of Law.

Lauren Cano Amoro is mid-way through her Ph.D. program in communication at ASU, Kirby Ifland is finishing his law degree at Harvard, and Lisa (Brown) Raser is finishing her Ph.D. in communication at Southern Illinois.

Plato on the Lawn Fall 2011

Plato on the Lawn Fall 2011

Mayterm 2010 in Northern Ireland

Stormont 2010 w Paul MaskeyStudents traveled to Northern Ireland to study conflict and reconciliation -- the fourth such trip since 2002. In this photo, students gather on the steps of Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly building with Paul Maskey, Sinn Fein Representative for Belfast West. Students attended a hearing and were briefed by members of Sinn Fein, the DUP, and SDLP on current issues facing Northern Ireland's peace process and a devolved government.

Greg Spencer Publishes Book About the Quieter VirtuesQuieter Virtues

“Many forces today argue against the practice of contentment,” Spencer says, “such as advertising, ‘helping’ the economy recover, an individual’s desire to control circumstances — and perhaps also personal uncertainty about contentment itself.”

In this, his fourth book, Spencer explores whether contentment is desirable or just another word for complacency. “Why should I be content when there are so many problems facing our world?” Spencer asks. “Is worry the same thing as discontentment — and isn’t worrying simply a normal part of everyday life?” The lecture will introduce the idea of “quieter virtues” and address the nature of contentment and its relationship to a media-saturated culture.

Alumni Gather in Chicago

NCA Chicago 09 Alums

Megan Moe, Lisa (Brown) Raser, Dave Tell, Lauren (Cano) Amoro, and Don Waisanen gathered at the National Communication Association convention in Chicago, November 2009.

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