Wilbur Schramm: Biography of this communication pioneer

Communication studies have had several references lately, and Schramm has been one of the most important.

Below we will review his life through a biography of Wilbur Schramm, To know the most important details of his life and career. We will find out what were the most valuable contributions he made during his years of communication and what the impact has been.

    Brief biography of Wilbur Schramm

    Wilbur Lang Schramm, or simply Wilbur Schramm, was born in 1907 in the town of Marietta, Ohio, United States. His family descended from former German emigrants. At home there was a love for music, as all components of the family unit were skilled in this art. Arch Schramm, Wilbur’s father, was an expert violinist, as well as a lawyer.

    For her part, Louise, his mother, played the piano. It is therefore not surprising that Wilbur Schramm was also worried about this discipline and quickly took an interest in the flute. One of the events that would mark the life of this boy was an apparently routine surgery in which his tonsils were removed. However, this operation triggered a stutter, which would accompany it forever.

    He was five years old when he started to stutter; this condition caused him great discomfort. From then on, he tried to avoid public speaking as much as possible. So much so that when he graduated, instead of giving a speech like the rest of his peers, he preferred to perform a piece of music with his flute.

    Years of training

    Wilbur Schramm began his career in political science at the prestigious institution of Marietta College. Not only that, but graduated with the summa cum laude distinction, as part of the excellence awarded by the company Phi Beta Kappa. And all this by combining her studies with a job as a journalist for The Marietta Daily Herald. This time, Wilbur Schramm gave a speech at his graduation ceremony.

    After this step, moved to Harvard University to major in US history. At the same time, he continues to gain professional experience as a journalist, this time for the Boston Herald.

    From Harvard he moved again, this time to Iowa, first because there was a large clinic where the stuttering problem would be treated, but also to be able to do his doctorate at the university there. . Here you would have the opportunity to study with author Norman Foerster. Wilbur schramm he completed his academic training by obtaining a doctorate in American literature.

    His doctoral thesis revolved around the play The Song of Hiawatha, an epic-themed poem written by author, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1855. He would still pursue a postdoctoral fellowship led by Carl Seashore, a prestigious psychophysiologist.

    Wilbur Schramm’s career

    After completing his postdoctoral fellowship, Wilbur Schramm began his career as a professor at the University of Iowa. At first he did so as an assistant, but he was promoted to associate professor first and full professor later. Schramm combined his work with other ways of giving voice to the writings of others, especially students. That’s why he founded American Prefaces: A Journal of Critical and Imaginative Writing.

    Even more important was the establishment of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where the creative writing programs started by Wilbur Schramm are still conducted today., Neither more nor less than in 1936. At the same time, he published his own works, some of which quickly became popular, such as Windwagon Smith, a short story for which he won the O. Henry Prize and which was adapted for a Walt Disney film.

    But a historic event changed Wilbur Schramm’s career, giving him a new direction. It was World War II. Due to this terrible war, Wilbur joined the US War Information Office. It is in this institution that he puts all his knowledge and experience at the service of the government, to gain an in-depth knowledge of the effects of war propaganda.

    This task brought him closer to behavioralism, one of the most powerful currents in psychology. After two years of working with this organization, back to the University of Iowa, this time as head of the school of journalism, An entity he would run for nearly a lustrum, before moving to the University of Illinois, to lead the reins of the Communications Research Institute. It was in 1947.

    Upcoming destinations and past years

    He was in charge of this department for eight years, but other destinations awaited him, such as Stanford University. Here, he will also direct a communication institute, neither more nor less than between 1955 and 1973.

    Also during this stage was responsible for the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. He then left for Honolulu, to direct the East-West Center Communication Institute in Hawaii.

    After retiring from the front line of research, Wilbur Schramm has always remained connected to this institute, as a distinguished member and emeritus director of the entity. In fact, he spent the last years of his life in Honolulu. His death would reach the year 1987, at the age of 80. Wilbur left behind his wife, daughter and grandson.

    Wilbur Schramm has devoted his entire life to teaching and researching the keys to communication. Being an eminence in this field, he was even able to make surprising predictions about the future, for as early as 1959 he ventured to say that in times to come it would not be unreasonable to think that everyone had their own cell phone. to be in constant contact with others.

    Outraged, thanks to him the prestigious communication institutes were based both at the University of Illinois and at Stanford. Thanks to their work, new students were able to obtain a doctorate in communication and thus start working on this new field of knowledge in various parts of the world.

      Importance as a communologist

      Throughout his career, Wilbur Schramm he had the opportunity to investigate and assess the communication conditions of very different places in the world. Some of this work has led it, for example, to African and Asian countries to try to improve the methods of transmitting information between large cities. He has also worked to improve educational conditions in countries like El Salvador.

      also, among his achievements he has successfully developed content delivery methods in India through satellite technology. It has also improved the television system in areas such as American Samoa. He even influenced the development of a plan to found an open-ended university in Israel.

      One of his most important works was Mass Media and National Development, a volume he published in 1964 through collaboration with UNESCO. In this book, Wilbur Schramm has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the importance of the use of communication-oriented technologies as a predictor of the socio-economic level of a country or region.

      As a result of these investigations, Schramm came to the conclusion that communication skills are essential to ensure that traditionally disadvantaged places can improve the living conditions of their inhabitants. Wilbur believed that this goal could be achieved if this communication technology was used for three specific tasks.

      The first was the task of conducting surveillance and investigative journalism, where communicators have the function of confronting the facts and thus controlling the actions of politicians and authorities in general. The second task concerned precisely the proposal of new policies favorable to the population of this region.

      To finish, Wilbur schramm felt that communication should be the catalyst to modernize the structures of a country and thus change its status, Abandoning its status as a developing country and eventually becoming a developed nation, where all its members have a number of guaranteed rights and freedoms.

      In addition to these proposals, Wilbur Schramm published around thirty books throughout his career, as well as several models that are still studied today in the field of communication, because Schramm is still a full reference.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Glander, T. (1996). Wilbur Schramm and the Communication Studies Foundation. Educational theory.
      • Glander, T. (1999). Origins of mass communications research during the American Cold War: educational effects and contemporary implications. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, editors.
      • Mc Anany, EG (1988). Wilbur Schramm, 1907-1987: Roots of the past, seeds of the present. Communication magazine. ERIC.
      • Pooley, J. (2017). Wilbur Schramm: “Communication Research Evangelist”. Communications. Media. Design.

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