Faculty Spotlight: Dr. John Shiga

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 3.59.04 PMMeet John Shiga, upcoming interim Graduate Program Director, and discover why he thinks communication is by definition about creating common ground.

By Amy Soden, MPC 2014

One of the oldest meanings of ‘communication’ is to ‘make common.’

Dr. John Shiga is an integral member of the ProCom community. From his role as an Assistant Professor to participating in curriculum development for both the BA and MPC programs to serving as interim Graduate Program Director, Dr. Shiga balances teaching, research, and leadership as a professional communicator. Dr. Shiga holds a BA in Mass Communication and Creative Writing from York University, and an MA in Communication Studies from McGill University. After graduating from his master’s, he completed a marketing internship at Alliance Atlantis, followed by a role at Financial Services Communication Ontario working in dispute resolution.

Interdisciplinary interests

With specific interests in research, writing, and argumentation, Dr. Shiga went back to school to complete his PhD in Communication at Carleton University where he also taught communication policy and media theory, then went on to do a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at McGill before coming to Ryerson. His extensive background in communication has allowed him to develop two key research interests: intellectual property and new media, and the use of audio technologies in ocean science, military surveillance, and popular culture.

Communication and common ground

Dr. Shiga notes that the meaning of the word communication is especially relevant as the holiday season approaches: “One of the oldest meanings of ‘communication’ is ‘to make common,’” he says. “Coming together or creating common ground or common culture is what makes other communication processes – transmission, dialogue, persuasion – possible.” Dr. Shiga sees ProCom’s academic programs as far more than a set of course offerings; he believes they represent the creation of common culture for diverse members of the ProCom community.

The importance of finding common culture is central to Dr. Shiga’s approach to professional communication, especially given the industry trend towards communicating with highly specialized audiences amidst increased desire for customization and personalization. He encourages alumni to “think about how we can facilitate sharing and develop common culture between individuals, groups, and organizations.”

Staying connected

Dr. Shiga emphasizes the value of alumni staying connected to the ProCom community, and the great benefit of having diverse alumni share their experiences and insights with faculty members and current students as learning translates back and forth between the classroom and industry.