A message from Diederich College of Communication Dean Sarah Feldner

Dear alumni and friends of the Diederich College of Communication,

As the dean of a college of communication, I spend a lot of time talking to many of you and to so many other alumni and professionals. This year perhaps the greatest conversation topic is how AI is changing content creation and how it will potentially change the ways our students will experience their careers. A consistent theme is that AI can change how we communicate, but what it cannot do is replace human relationships and expression.

As a college of communication at a Jesuit Catholic institution, we are called to form our students not by generating a particular code but through companionship. In recent years, the Jesuits have committed themselves to “Walking with Youth.” This “Walking” is a privileged form of accompaniment. We are called to walk alongside each other and be open to the uniqueness of the individual people whom we encounter. The relationship is one that brings out the gifts of others and allows them to flourish as individuals. This transformative accompaniment is made possible through communication and intentional sharing of stories, building relationships and creating meaningful interaction.

In this digital publication, you will hear how accompaniment plays out daily in our work. Our classrooms, studios, stages and labs are places where we hone the skills and mindsets needed to be companions to one other. We also come together outside of the classroom in community to meet each other where we are and see fellow students, faculty and staff for who they are. Events like Friendsgiving give us moments to pause, to break bread, and to grow as a community.

Here in the Diederich College, we accompany our students in their formation as future leaders and community members called to heal a broken world. And we do not do it alone. We are joined by countless alumni who return to campus to share the stories of their journeys and to help students forge their own paths.

Finally, we accompany our students as we struggle to understand how to harness the tools of AI while remaining in relationship with others. We are taking up the question of AI in our profession head-on in our research and classroom so that we can lead the way.

It may seem a stretch to combine community building, mentorship and AI into a single frame of companionship. In fact, I was not sure how to do it myself, so I asked for a little help from Chat GPT. As I have discovered, algorithms agree that all three can work together:

“These three concepts may seem distinct at first glance, but they share a common thread: a commitment to helping individuals grow, learn, and find meaning in their lives. Whether it’s through the power of empathetic human connection in communication, the guidance and assistance offered by AI mentors, or the spiritual accompaniment of the Jesuit tradition, each approach is rooted in the desire to support and uplift those they serve.”

Generated by ChatGPT

As our leaders and professionals working in the field, you have similar conversations and questions, I imagine. What does it mean to walk together through work and our world? How are you using AI in your role? How do we grapple with the benefits of AI as well as the importance of authentic human interaction? I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for your support of Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication.

Dr. Sarah Feldner
Diederich College of Communication