Intro to Interpersonal Communication

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Ferrara
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1415
End: 1530
Field Work: Day 1 | South Africa Download Syllabus

Why do we say what we say? From the moment we are born our word choices are socially constructed. In this course we will critically think about how our environment, including culture, gender, and family, influences our verbal and nonverbal communication and relationships. We will explore how our communication choices impact how others see us and we will strive throughout the semester to become more competent communicators whether we are talking face-to-face, blogging, texting, or sending an email. This will be accomplished by examining theoretical perspectives and current scholarly research used to explain communication phenomena, socialization, and interactions. Topics include: Social Construction, Uncertainty Reduction Theory, Politeness Theory, Dialectic Theory, Knapp’s Stages of Relationships, Symbolic Convergence, Coordinated Management of Meaning, Gottman’s research on conflict, Privacy Management Theory, and Message Design Logic. We will examine language and relationships in our lives by utilizing various tools including problem-based learning, films, guest speakers, lectures, in-class exercises and class discussion in both large and small groups.

Field Work

Country: South Africa
Day: 1

Yizani is a welcoming word meaning "Come, everybody". During our Field Lab in Cape Town we will be introduced to child advocates: educators who strive to improve child literacy of those impacted by Apartheid, locals who will share stories on race and gender, a program that teaches the unemployed important skills (, and a child rape crisis center where children and families go to receive the help they need ( We may have a quick course in the Xhosa language. We will end our day with an alumna of SAS who relocated to Cape Town after her experience with SAS. She will share her journey as well as answer any questions we have. *Order of events could change as the day approaches. Participants will be debriefed of the actual schedule the morning of the excursion.*
Academic Objectives:
  1. Present a two minute talk on each of the places we visit
  2. Say 5 South African words, incorporate them properly in conversation, and understand their meaning
  3. Identify at least 3 nonverbal code differences between the United States and Cape Town interactions
  4. Identify and explain at least 2 different communication rituals.
  5. Socially construct the terms Black and Aparteid from the perspective of a local and compare/contrast the differences from the American use of the terms
  6. Continue on your semester project of identifying how an interpersonal term is socially constructed in Cape Town
  7. Apply at least 2 interpersonal theories to this experience