12:29 PM

Friendship of Communications Heavyweights Creates a Partnership Benefitting UST Students

TV Host Deborah Duncan and Dr. Cesare WrightThe pen is mightier than the sword. Most likely, you have heard the expression. It signifies that the thoughts you convey, the words you use and the way you communicate can determine the success of your personal and professional achievements. This semester, two heavyweights in the world of communications are joining forces to offer students at University of St. Thomas-Houston an unparalleled  experience.

Dr. Cesare Wright, UST's Director of Digital Media Initiatives, and the hugely popular Houston television personality Deborah Duncan, host of the daily lifestyle television program "Great Day Houston," will co-teach a class called COMM 4383 Communication Theory: Media 2.0. The undergraduate course is designed to teach students to think critically about the world of media, journalism and entertainment.

Engaging in the Digital World

"We will focus on how social media and digital technology have revolutionized our ability to engage in the world around us," said Dr. Wright, who believed there was little chance that Deborah would accept the offer. After all, Deborah is not only the host and senior producer of her daily show, she is also the mother of a teenage son and has a myriad of other commitments. But Wright was wrong.

"When Dr. Wright asked if I would like to co-teach a class, I think I said yes before he finished the sentence!” said Duncan. "First, I have the utmost respect for him. Second, the size of the classes gives me a chance to work with students in a more impactful way. Third, I love the nurturing atmosphere at UST.”

The paths of Deborah and Dr. Wright crossed long ago. They first met when Dr. Wright was an intern at KRIV, Houston's Fox affiliate. At that time, Duncan was already shining as a journalist and producer. Since then, their professional relationship grew into a solid friendship, leading to numerous partnerships to share solutions to common problems.

Wired to Fix Problems

Dr. Wright is a frequent guest of Great Day Houston. According to Duncan, that is because both their brains are wired to fix problems.

"When Covid had millions working from home," said Duncan, "Dr. Wright shared everything from the best ways to boost your internet to how to put your best face forward in this new form of office space."

Aside from communication theory, students who take this class will learn from both of these authorities in their field about the responsibility they have every time they communicate, primarily online.

Wright said, "From a Catholic perspective, we hope that students will come away with a practical understanding of both the dangers and opportunities that come from traditional and emergent media modes – Instagram, for instance, can be a source of exploitation and depression, but it can also be an amazing tool for connecting families and friends and improving the sense of connectedness during a crisis like COVID."

With smartphones and other digital devices readily available, Duncan has one wish: "I want students to understand their purpose and the best way to deliver their message whether it is to tell a story, encourage, call to action or evoke emotion, among other things," said Duncan.

According to Dr. Wright, students of Communication Theory: Media 2.0 will be provided with extended internships and project-based learning experiences.