Page 16 - FOXTALK Fall 2012

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16
Fall 2012
Faculty
Relationship expert joins communication faculty
D
r. Jen Eden has a relationship with relationships.
That is, she researches and teaches how we use
technology to maintain our relationships with
each other. Eden’s relationship with relation-
ships began at Arizona State University, where she earned her
doctorate, writing a dissertation that added physiological, psy-
chological and observational measures to the existing research
on unrequited love. (She found, by the way, that unrequited
love is harder on the object of the affection.) But now she is
beginning a new relationship with her students and colleagues
at Marist, one that will allow her to bring her research (which
also encompasses the prevention of cyber bullying and other
health campaigns) to the classroom.
Eden said that her favorite topics to teach are relational and
interpersonal communication. “I fundamentally believe that all
communication is interpersonal,” she said, “and all the theories
we can talk about in interpersonal communication could apply
to any context: to maintenance, persuasion, conflict, research
methods, theories—whatever.” The study of interpersonal com-
munication, she said, has a practical application: “I think this
one-on-one communication is the most important function.
Through that and through improving our own confidence,
skills, and being a confident communicator, we can be more
effective in a variety of contexts in which we may live, work or
play.”
Eden has also taken on the task of teaching the communica-
tion major’s research methods course—a fundamental, but
often feared class. So how does she approach material that
students can find to be dry? “I’m trying to have my students do
more of a hands-on thing and have it be applicable to them,”
she said. “So, rather than having them try to simultaneously
learn about how to do research methods and doing research
methods, which can be kind of overwhelming, I am going to
have them do a proposal this year, so that when they get into
their capping courses, they can actually conduct this research.”
She does love teaching, and that’s a big part of what brought
her here. “One of the reasons why I chose Marist and I love
teaching at places like this is because there’s really an emphasis
on teaching, almost a mentorship kind of a thing,” she said.
“We have small classes and you get to talk to students, making
impact on their lives.”
BY KEVIN LERNER
But even outside of her classes, Eden is eager to begin build-
ing those relationships with her students, and to show them
the value of a communication degree. “I would love to have
students come in and talk to me about questions they have
about where to go with the degree,” she said. “I had a couple of
students coming in and talking to me from my theory class, my
intro class, saying ‘I don’t know what to do with this degree.’
But you shouldn’t have to figure out at 18 what you want to do
for the rest of your life.”
Instead, she said, it’s about interpersonal communication—
about relationships: “You should have a conversation with
people that may send you in a direction that works for you.”