Communication Theory in Action – The Capstone Project

Queens University of Charlotte’s MA in Communication curriculum culminates with the capstone, in which students translate a personal passion into practice through a year-long project or initiative that will be ready for implementation upon graduation. Students may explore an important communication topic or challenge that will prepare them to make a difference, whether it is increasing organizational success, launching an entrepreneurial endeavor, or addressing a community or societal problem or need.

Through the capstone project and a digital portfolio showcasing their learning and accomplishments at Queens, students demonstrate to current and potential employers and/or community participants how the knowledge and skills acquired in their studies will enable them to contribute by implementing innovative ideas. Featured below are abstracts from a few MA in Communication graduates’ capstone projects that represent the variety of learning outcomes possible through the program.

Managing Change Through Organizational Conversations
By Valarie A. Udeh, Class of 2013
Due to a range of external and internal factors, organizations operate in a constant state of change. Communication in support of change efforts often takes the form of leader-driven messages that inform employees yet offer them little opportunity to be co-creators of the desired change. A more interactive and inclusive communications model, developed from research on the current state of corporate communications, has emerged. Organizational Conversation (Groysberg & Slind, 2012) focuses on talking with people not at them. Since conversations already constitute the fabric of an organization, the Organizational Conversation model could offer a more effective approach to change communication. Using grounded theory, this research project will explore the role of conversations between leaders and employees who are involved in corporate change management initiatives and will evaluate the Organizational Conversation model to determine if it offers a viable change management communications approach for organizations.

Read the full text of Valarie’s capstone whitepaper here. Learn more about Valarie’s perspective on organizational communication and how social media can facilitate employee communication.

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk For Arthritis: Strategic Communication Plan
By Emily Kelechi Kelly, Class of 2013
With over 130 events nationwide, the Arthritis Foundation turns to charitable road races as one of its key fundraising opportunities, raising funds for research, health education, and government advocacy. Throughout its 29-year history, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis has become the nation’s largest holiday run/walk event. With over 500 participants and volunteers annually, the Charlotte, North Carolina Jingle Bell Run/Walk serves as a key fundraising event for the local Arthritis Foundation chapter and a primary opportunity to generate awareness and support for America's leading cause of disability.

Grounded in public relations and social theory, this whitepaper chronicles the creation of a strategic communication plan to frame public relations efforts and provide a tangible set of action steps to generate social capital for the event. Through the application of Bennett, Mousley, Kitchin and Ali-Choudhury’s three primary motives that influence and determine participation in charity-affiliated sporting events, we can better understand participatory factors that drive motivation in this type of event. Robert Putnam and Pierre Bourdieu further illuminate and improve the tactical action steps for creating and executing cause-related marketing and public relations efforts to support the 2013 Charlotte, North Carolina Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.

The whitepaper further details key takeaways from this research to boost participation in the 2013 event and serves as a template for similar organizations hosting charity-affiliated sporting events from which to tailor their communications initiatives.

Read the full text of Emily’s capstone whitepaper or check out Emily's digital portfolio.

The Digital Community: Twitter Chats as “Third Places”
By Ashleigh Farley, Class of 2013
This study is an exploration of social networking sites as community gathering places. Using Oldenburg’s (1999) eight characteristics of third places which builds upon Putnam’s (2000) theory of social capital, this study examines how people collectively identify and collaborate in physical and digital gathering sites. As we progress in a digital age, members of society may be able to utilize social networking sites such as Twitter in the same way they would have previously visited an establishment that was their “third place.” Using a content analysis of Twitter chats including over 3100 tweets, this study discovers how conversation in this space creates a digital community where users can gather.

Click here to read Ashleigh’s whitepaper or visit her digital portfolio.

Interested in applying your experience and passion to explore the challenges of modern communication? Contact our admissions team today and learn how the online Communication master’s at Queens will empower you to master the theory and tools to be a more effective communicator and lead the conversation in your workplace or community.