A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor recently published a book aimed at inspiring students and professors to develop better relationships through improved communication.
The past two years, Dr. Julien Mirivel, associate professor of applied communication and interim associate dean for the College of Social Sciences and Communicationat the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, worked to conduct 30 interviews with scholars throughout the country to craft his second book, “How Communication Scholars Think and Act: A Lifespan Perspective.”
Mirivel used in-person interviews as well as Skype and phone conversations to include some of the greatest communicators in the nation.
To assist with the production process, Mirivel enlisted the help of two applied communication graduate students, Amanda Pasierb and Kristina Godfrey, who collected and transcribed data.
As a former UA Little Rock student, Mirivel drew inspiration for the book from a class taught by Jay Raphael, a now-retired professor.
Raphael’s course, “Methods of Thinking,” explored how people from different professions think and look at the world differently. Each week, he recruited someone from a different career field, such as an architect or historian, to help the class see the world through various lenses.
“In that class, I thought about what it meant to think like my discipline,” Mirivel said. “How does a communications person, someone who’s been trained in the art and science of communication, think and what do they look at in the world?”
Seeking to answer these questions, Mirivel searched for communication scholars who were well established in the field, having obtained a Ph.D. with at least 25 years of experience.
“I wanted people who had dedicated their lives to communication, so often, they were professors, retired, assistants, and associate professors who had published books and articles,” Mirivel said.
Featured in the publication from UA Little Rock are Dr. Carol Thompson, professor of applied communication, and Dr. Allen Ward, professor emeritus of applied communication.
As Mirivel worked to dissect each interview, he hoped to find commonalities among scholars to show his audience, particularly students, that communication is and will always be an intricate part of life.
“A lot of them, early on in their experiences as children, found that they had an affinity for communication,” Mirivel said. “They paid attention to it. It was like finding a home.”
For many of the interview respondents, college helped expand their love for communication, which is why Mirivel saw fit to include the topic in his work, hoping to inspire up-and-coming scholars.
“I thought this would be nice for students because early on, they’re kind of anxious, trying to figure out who they are, what they think, and what they believe,” Mirivel said. “Some of that may never go away, but as these scholars developed, they sort of shook that off. In their later stages, they turned confident. Because of that slow gain of confidence, they moved from looking inside to looking outside.”
In understanding his interviewees’ journeys to become effective communicators, Mirivel also hoped to understand why they worked to stay in the profession for so long.
“Some people can love one thing for a moment, but it’s different to love something for a lifetime,” he said.
To add a personal touch to his work and continue his tradition, Mirivel included his mother’s artwork to be displayed on the cover of the publication.
Mirivel plans to continue writing and to one day, create a communications book targeted at the general public.
“I think I’ve done that with this model, but it takes a lot of work to try to get your writing in that direction, so that would be a dream,” Mirivel said.
Both of Mirivel’s publications, “The Art of Positive Communication: Theory and Practice” and “How Communication Scholars Think and Act: A Lifespan Perspective,” can be purchased on Amazon. For more information, contact Mirivel at firstname.lastname@example.org.