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Faculty Profile: Deirdre Johnston
Professor of Communication
and Chair of the Department

All it took was a visit during a summer communication conference to convince Dr. Deirdre Johnston that Hope was a place worth considering.

Though she was teaching at another Midwestern college, she was impressed by the academic atmosphere and the surrounding Holland community.

“In some ways, Hope sort of came to me,” she recalls. She was offered a position in the department of communication, and Hope held the position for a year to allow her to complete her current family and professional commitments. This made it clear that the college was a place where family and community, as well as academics, was valued.

“The Holland community and the campus community serve each other well, and that helps to make both Holland and Hope the best possible places they can be. Hope brings speakers, writers and artists to the community, and the community brings internships, jobs, volunteer opportunities and a vibrant downtown to the college.”

Along with that overall sense of community, she was impressed by the mission and purpose that Hope presented, including the innovative curriculum and the presence of a strong, Christian foundation.

“Hope’s Christian mission provides roots upon which to grow a liberal arts education. Liberal arts education should explore the limits of every field; it should ask the difficult questions. The mission gives those questions meaning and purpose.”

Dr. Johnston is passionate about educating students and opening their eyes to the growing importance of communication in an increasingly global society.

“Given the impact of new media, primarily the Internet, on our society and on our way of getting news and relating to others—I can’t think of anything more important at this time than learning how to communicate.”

Communication, though, Dr. Johnston cautions, is not just about relating information to others. She believes that it is equally important to understand how one receives information.

“We need to help students learn how to be critical receivers of information. We must be able to view things not just as entertainment, but we need to be considering, ‘What ideologies are being promoted in these images and texts?’”

Dr. Johnston has been involved with research, both during the school year and during summer, allowing her to get to know students and watch them grow and develop. She believes that Hope students are particularly adept in expressing ideas orally and thinking critically, skills that are crucial no matter what the medium.

“Tools and technology; they become obsolete, but critical thinking skills will take you across any number of career changes. They never become obsolete. That’s what I want to see in students.”

This profile was written by Charlie A. Walter, a Hope College senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2010-11 Hope College Catalog.

Hope People - Learn about the experiences of some of the people connected with Hope College.