Communication Education in Mexico: Overall Trends

Article excerpt

A. Introduction

The teaching of communication in Mexico has taken surprising directions in recent years. Both a proliferation of different approaches to schools of communication and a decline in the quality of their programs has accompanied growth in the programs. We see this in the most recent statistics generated by the Research Center for Applied Communication (CICA) in its study, "Regional Map of Communication Education in Latin America," a study sponsored by the Latin American Federation Faculties of Social Communication (FELAFACS) and UNESCO. As an overview of communication education, we present the highlights of the report along with some thoughts about the direction that the teaching of communication in Mexico has taken.

The first question that comes to mind when one examines the outlook for teaching communication in Mexico is this: What is the universe of communication programs in Mexico composed of?

The world of education and training in communication in Mexico and elsewhere includes everything related to communication taking place in educational institutions. Furthermore, it involves training activities and instruction outside formal education that occurs in consulting firms or producers of integrated communication for organizations (advertising, public relations, and organizational communication).

The data reported here refer only to those activities that occur within educational establishments or in courses that occur as a part of school programs. All other training activities in communication (courses, seminars, or training) do not appear her but will be published in future investigations.

B. Communication programs in schools and universities in Mexico

Throughout almost 50 years of formal teaching of communication in the country (taking as reference the founding of the first degree in Communication Sciences in 1960), communication programs have grown in number. They have taken different names according to their approaches, with an emphasis or prespecialization set according to their needs. This study identified 1,006 communication programs, with different names related to the discipline. These fall into four categories: Communication, Marketing, Design, and Journalism, with several subgroups:

* Communication includes communication study itself as well as communication joined with other disciplines related to broader social issues such as culture, education, social communication, and so on (75%).

* Marketing includes the areas of corporate or organizational communication, often marketing and advertising, organizational communication, marketing and public relations, corporate communication, image building, among others (19%).

* Design incorporates degrees such as audiovisual design, multimedia, digital imaging, and others (2%).

* Journalism includes itself, as well as related areas such as journalism and public image, journalism and public opinion, etc. (4%).

The vast majority (75%) of programs name themselves in a manner explicitly related to communication itself. Sometimes these appear with the name of anoth er discipline that often deals with broader social referents such as the mass media, social groups, cultural studies, education, among others. Another 19% employ names more directly related to businesses or organizations. This portion manifests a concern for the proper functioning of organizations and businesses in the country; with a fifth of the programs, this indicates a growing interest in organizatinonal communication.

One can conclude that Mexico remains at the beginning of training in digital design, with only 2% of communication programs using that term. However, many of the other, general communication programs most likely include specific materials designed to train young people in interactivity and digitization, whose importance continually increases in society. Finally, the category of journalism has only 4% of the total. …