The status of ethics instruction in communication departments

Clifford Christians, Edmund B. Lambeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A survey of programs in speech communication and communication studies indicates that a total of 79 schools (39%) are teaching or planning free-standing courses in communication ethics; 58% of these courses are or will be required. This major commitment provides a foundation for contributing to the development of applied ethics as a whole. However, there are weaknesses and inadequacies in goals, materials, and pedagogy that need attention before such courses in communication ethics will reach their potential. There is little evidence of innovation in pedagogy and virtually no research in teaching effectiveness. While the number of textbooks is growing rapidly, greater variety is needed in case materials outside the mass media. Also, instructional aids in different formats are almost non-existent. These limitations in materials and in teaching strategies are compounded by the fact that over 50% of those currently teaching free-standing courses do not regard ethics as a major strength intellectually or a primary research interest. While the statistics are growing stronger, the jury is still out on whether ethics will become a central area of communication studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalCommunication Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

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