Barbara Irwin, PhD Professor of Communication Studies

Barbara Irwin, PhD

Barbara Irwin, PhD specializes in the areas of broadcasting and media studies. She joined the Canisius College faculty in 1991, after earning a PhD. in Communication from the University at Buffalo, with a major concentration in Mass Communication and minor concentrations in Organizational Communication and English (Literature and Film). As Director of the Internship Program in Communication Studies, Dr. Irwin works to place students in appropriate professional settings where they can gain all-important "real-world" experience applying the principles learned in the classroom; teaches a related seminar class; and oversees the evaluation of interns. She is the 2009 recipient of the Canisius College Alumni Association Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award. In 2005, she was awarded a Peter Canisius Distinguished Teaching Professorship to establish the Canisius College Video Institute, which engages students in the production of video projects/documentaries for community service/humanitarian agencies in Buffalo and around the world.

Dr. Irwin is involved in a long-term research project studying Cultural Indicators of Daytime Serial Drama, examining the messages (content) of soap operas and how these messages relate to our society and our culture. Other research interests include the "behind-the-scenes" development and creation of television programming, the impact of the mass media on today's society, the history of docudrama and reality-based programming, and the influence of Latin-American telenovelas on U.S. soap operas.

A best-selling author, Dr. Irwin has written two books about television's highest-rated soap opera, The Young and the Restless, both co-authored with Mary Cassata, PhD of the Communication Department at the University at Buffalo. As a consultant to daytime television industry leaders, Dr. Irwin has been involved in television features, specials, and conferences on soap operas. She serves as Co-Director (with Dr. Cassata) of Project Daytime, a comprehensive research endeavor focusing on the study and monitoring of the daytime television environment. Recently, Dr. Irwin delivered a keynote address at an international conference in Mexico. Frequently sought after by local and national media, Dr. Irwin's interviews have appeared, among other outlets, on the E! Entertainment Network, and in USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Irwin's first job out of college was working as a casting assistant on the Tri-Star motion picture, The Natural, filmed in Buffalo. Prior to beginning her doctoral work, she worked in news and public affairs for public radio, and in the Educational Services department at WNED-TV on, among other projects, the Emmy award-winning television series, Reading Rainbow. When she's not working, Dr. Irwin enjoys traveling with her husband (among the destinations have been Thailand and South Africa), playing tennis and golf, and practicing piano and guitar.

Courses taught include:

COM 205 - Mass Communication and Society
COM 323 - Social Effects of Media
COM 325 Media Literacy
COM 328 - Scriptwriting
COM 367 - Broadcasting in America
COM 368 - Analysis of Daytime Television
COM 382 - Issues in Broadcasting
COM 491/492 – Video Institute I & II>

  • Analysis of Soap Operas
  • Development & Influence of Media, Sexual Content
  • Analyzing Media Messages
  • Dramatic Writing for TV & Film
  • Anti & Pro-Social Influence of Media