Joshua Danaher is a full-time faculty member in Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is passionate about communication and the Christian faith, and enjoys building relationships with his students.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to GCU.
I was born and raised in Arizona. I am a Christian, husband and father of two boys (four and two years old). After graduate school, I taught in the Maricopa Community College system for a time and learned from a student attending GCU at the time that a communication professor was planning on leaving. The next day, I brought my portfolio to one of the full-time faculty members in communication and had an hour-long conversation about communication, the state of the field and Christianity. It was a good conversation. From that point on, I knew I want to be at GCU, teaching about communication and the relationship between knowing/serving God and communicating effectively.
- What do you enjoy most about being a professor?
Seeing students grow intellectually by discovering and understanding the ideas that have been so influential in history/communication, learn more about themselves and become effective communicators and great leaders as a result. In short, I love to see students develop their potential.
- What inspired you to go into your field?
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was a sophomore in high school. An English teacher helped me to see the value in reading literature and that influenced me to pursue academics more consciously and want to share what I learned with others. I switched my major from religious studies to communication my freshman year at ASU and never looked back. I loved dissecting communication and applying what I learned in my own relationships as well as helping others to be more intentional about communication in their relationships.
- What area of communication are you most passionate about, and why?
I am most passionate about relational communication and intercultural communication. In relational communication, we get to study what is dearest and closest to our hearts. We also struggle so much in our personal relationships because we often take our communication in these relationships for granted. Studying the communication differences between cultures is fascinating to me and reveals the fullness of how God has created us.
- What is a challenge facing the field of communication right now?
Knowing how to communicate its value, ironically. People already think they know how to communicate well enough, and they often don’t have hope for improvement. Part of the work is showing positive outcomes of learning effective communication skills. The other challenge is a philosophical one. The communication field advocates for open communication, but I think that sometimes the focus on audience sensitivity or political correctness empties public discourse of its real benefits. I think the field wants to find a balance but has lost its bearing.
- Tell us one of your favorite stories from one of your classes in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
One of my favorite class periods in relational communication is when we play a Battle of the Sexes game and incorporate research highlighting male and female differences in communication. The guys in one class came up with a question, against my advice, about how much money guys thought was sufficient to justify them “getting out of the friend zone” in a relationship with a female. In other words, they were asking the females in the class to guess what guys’ attitudes were about how much money spent on dates, etc. translated to the status of “boyfriend.” Needless to say, the females in the class were not happy. It was an interesting dialogue about the nature of relational expectations…
- What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
Get to know your fellow majors, and get to know your faculty. Ask them to give you feedback, and be humble enough to accept constructive criticism. College brings many challenges and a lot of change. Surrounding yourself with a good support system will be essential if you want succeed and be healthy, well-rounded.
- What advice do you have for graduating seniors?
Pray more. Just kidding… but seriously. Trust that the work you have done while here at GCU is good work. Also, trust that God wants to use your talents for His purposes. Learn to let go of the control that you don’t even really have over the future. You will have more joy that way. Finally, take a class in personal finance and learn to save/invest money.
- What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t let your career be the only part of your identity on which you place value. The wisest people in my life have helped me to see that I will be a better teacher if that is not all that I spend my time thinking I am.
- What can you be found doing when you are not at work?
Grading. J Reading books, coloring and playing outside with my boys and my wife. I also love to hike, run with people who are faster than me (thank you intramural cross country team) and work out (Crossfit is the latest attempt at this for me). Oh, and eating good food.
Excellent communication skills can lead to success in all areas of life. Interested in learning more about a communications degree at Grand Canyon University? Contact an enrollment representative today!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.