Public Policy Working Group Funded Projects


Public Policy Working Group: Communication Contributions to the National Center for Campus Public Safety 

Virginia Tech, 2007; Northern Illinois University, 2008; The University of Texas, 1966 and 2010; Santa Monica College, 2013; all experienced campus shootings. In the first half of 2013, there were 15 shootings on or near a college campus—the equivalent of a shooting every week and a half. Regardless of size, location, or type of institution—community college or urban—no campus is immune to these emergencies. In September, 2013, Congress funded the creation of a National Center for Campus Public Safety. This center will be a clearinghouse and a think-tank for information concerning campus safety. Communication scholars, in many sub-disciplines, have conducted theoretically robust research that informs such issues as emergencies, crises, risks, and organizational processes. This National Communication Association’s public policy working group helped establish Communication scholarship, notably processes of organizing and resilience, as central to the formation of the newly funded National Center for Campus Public Safety.

Keri Stephens  Keri K. Stephens, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Organizational Communication & Technology
The University of Texas at Austin
 Marya L Doerfel  Marya L. Doerfel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication
Rutgers University




 Public Policy Working Group: Anonymity and Campaign Finance 

Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case, dramatically changed campaign finance law in the United States. By removing limits on corporate funding of election speech, the decision is ushering in an unprecedented era of electioneering communication by wealthy donors and corporations. One significant but under-researched component of Citizens United is its impact on disclosure and disclaimer provisions. Genelle Belmas and Jason Shepard have published research on the intersection of anonymity and campaign finance laws, and in this project they examined state and federal models for disclosure and disclaimer, assessed the relevant case law and theoretical frameworks, and interviewed policymakers and advocates. Their aim was to develop an analysis and proposal that integrates the rationales for anonymity law with the underlying purposes of campaign finance law. In doing so, they intended for this research to serve as a basis for policymakers at the state and federal levels as those policymakers grapple with disclosure and disclaimer issues in a post-Citizens United world.


Genelle I. Belmas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication
California State University, Fullerton


Jason M. Shepard, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication
California State University, Fullerton


Public Policy Working Group: Rethinking Risk and Decision Making: How Communication Research Can Inform Policymaking in Times of Crisis

Crises and disasters are social as much as natural events – they raise questions from media, scholars, and the public about the preparedness and response of those in charge, urging policymakers to be accountable for what went wrong. In these cases, decision making during crises is scrutinized for risks that could have been prevented or otherwise addressed. This project employed a Communication perspective and published research by Mariaelena Bartesaghi to conceptualize decision making anew, from a retrospective vantage point to an “in the moment” process of interaction. In this way, risk is conceived according to research by Beck, Douglas, and Luhmann: choices taken as opposed to those not taken, possibilities, constraints, and communicative dynamics. By seeing decision making and risk as processes of communication, the goal of this project was to offer recommendations to minimize risk and increase the nation's resiliency to disaster.

View slide presentations from the 2014 International Crisis & Risk Communication Conference:
The Consequentiality of Risk Communication: Implications for Risk Researchers
Coordination: From Crisis C-Shibboleth to In-the-Moment Communicative Action 

Mariaelena Bartesaghi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication
University of South Florida    



Ardis Hanson, Ph.D.
Social and Behavioral Researcher
University of South Florida

/uploadedImages/Public_Engagement/Bennington photo.jpg

Barbara Bennington
Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Communication
University of South Florida