2014 Looking Bright

As we begin the second semester of our new MA program in Communication and Advocacy, our first cohort of Masters’ students is busy and engaged. Students attended the National Communication Association conference in November where they attended panels, listened to presentations, talked with scholars in areas related to their interests and talked with prospective MA applicants at the Graduate School Fair. Our graduate students are engaged in research projects with several of our professors including work on pregnancy issues and student health. Several are working with our winning Debate and Individual Events teams, and for those who are graduate assistants, they are meeting their new students in the Introduction to Human Communication classes this week. Our graduate faculty members are offering classes in Advanced Qualitative Methods, Health Communication Advocacy and Research, Environmental Communication Advocacy and Research, and Interpersonal Communication as Advocacy.

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If this sounds intriguing, we hope you will consider applying for the 2014-2015 academic year. Applications are now being accepted and are due by February 15, 2014 for our 36-credit hour program. The program offers a strong foundation in communication theory and research, as well as an in-depth examination of communication and advocacy that highlights practical applications and a competencies approach. Students will choose from two concentrated areas of study in Health and Environmental Communication.

Interested in learning more about our program? Explore the pages on this blog, visit our School’s website, and contact us with any questions. Thinking about applying? Subscribe to this blog, “like us” on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for program news, updates, and events happening in and around campus. We look forward to hearing from you!

Highlights of Recent Graduate Faculty Activities


Dr. Tim Ball (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) and Dr. Roz Leppington (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) published “Community-building learning groups in an online course: A study of functional moves” The Northwest Journal of Communication, 41(1), 137-160.


Dr. Tim Ball (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) presented “Developing a measure of students’ attitudes towards communication” at the 2013 Eastern Communication Association’s Basic Course Conference in Pittsburgh this April.

Dr. Alison Bodkin (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) presented and received a top paper award for “An ethnographic study of communication center pedagogy” at the National Association for Communication Centers in Greensboro, NC in March.

Dr. Heather Carmack (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) with co-author Dr. Sarah Heiss (University of Vermont) presented the Top-Paper in the Interpretation and Performance Studies Division “Performing with food: Relationships between food, women’s performance of “good mother”, and childhood health outcomes” at the 2013 Annual Meeting Eastern Communication Association in Pittsburg, PA in April.

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Dr. Daniel Schill to join the Communication Studies Faculty Fall 2013

The School of Communication Studies is pleased to announce that Dan Schill (Ph.D., University of Kansas) will be joining the faculty in the fall as an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and a member of the Graduate Faculty.  Dr. Schill was most recently an Assistant Professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, where he taught courses in political advocacy, media and politics, social media, telecommunications policy and law, and research methods. This coming fall he will be teaching Introduction to Advocacy Studies in our M.A. program.

His research is centered at the intersection of communication, politics, technology, and the mass media. His book Presidential Campaigning and Social Media (co-edited with John Allen Hendricks, Oxford University Press, 2013) is the first of its kind to comprehensively study the techniques, functions and effects of social media in presidential campaigning. Stagecraft Book CoverHis first book, Stagecraft and Statecraft: Advance and Media Events in Political Communication (Lexington Books, 2009), pulled back the curtain and explained the strategies and tactics of the visual speechwriters and advance staff who plan and manage political events. Dr. Schill’s research has appeared in American Behavioral Scientist, PS: Political Science & Politics, Review of Communication, Real Time Response Measurement in the Social Sciences, and Techno-Politics and Presidential Campaigning.

In addition to his academic research, Dr. Schill conducts research for media outlets with frequent collaborator Dr. Rita Kirk. Since 2008, he has organized and moderated on-air dial focus groups for CNN and provided real time analysis of debates, speeches, and ads. His focus groups are prominently featured on CNN during coverage of major Dial CNNcommunication events, such as presidential debates, conventions, and major speeches. His research and analysis has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Chronicle of Higher Education, Dallas Morning News, The American Prospect, and other local and regional media outlets. Dr. Schill is also an expert in telecommunications and Internet policy and spent the 2009-2010 academic year working on these issues in Washington, DC for the United States Senate as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.

Highlights of Recent Graduate Faculty Activities

Recent accomplishments and activities by graduate faculty in the School of Communication Studies highlight their commitment to innovative pedagogies, advocacy research and outreach.


Dr. Michael Davis (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) and Dr. Peter Bsumek (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) published “The public debate writing assignment: Developing an academically engaged debate audience” in Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, 32, 92-97.

Dr. Eric Fife (Associate Professor, Communication Studies), Dr. C. Leigh Nelson (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) and Kristin Zhang (Undergraduate Student, Communication Studies) published “A new horizon for a classic perspective: Facebook and Expectancy Violation Theory” in the Journal of the Communication, Speech & Theatre Association of North Dakota, 25, 13-23.

Dr. Corey Hickerson (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) and Dr. Peter Bsumek (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) published “Greening the public relations curriculum: An integrative approach to teaching environmental communication best practices in the campaigns course” in PRism, 9(1), 1-11.

Dr. C. Leigh Nelson (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) and Dr. Eric Fife (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) published “RateMyProfessors.com: A validity exercise in Communication Teacher, 27(1), 6-10.

Dr. Toni S. Whitfield (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) and Dr. Corey Hickerson (Associate Professor, Communication Studies) published “The difficult transition? Teaching, research, service: Examining the preparedness of communication faculty entering the academe” in The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(1).

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JMU School of Communication announces 4C Initiative: Campus Community Civic Collaborative

4CfinalDr. Lori Britt, Assistant Professor of Communication and Director of the Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue (ICAD), has been chosen to participate in a research exchange with the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, in Dayton, OH. The Kettering Foundation focuses on the question of “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?” Britt and Tim Ruebke of The Fairfield Center in Harrisonburg are representing ICAD’s new partnership, 4C, the Campus Community Civic Collaborative is this partnership which will focus on research and practice about democratic, deliberative practice.

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What’s New? Faculty Publications and Grants

Recent Publications:
Dr. Carlos Alemán (Associate Professor of Communication Studies) and Dr. Melissa Alemán (Professor of Communication Studies) authored the chapter “The trouble with family stories” in the book Mediating Cultures: Parenting in Intercultural Contexts edited by A. Gonzalez and T.M. Harris and published by Lexington Press.
Dr. Alison Bodkin (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies) wrote the curation “Nursing our pinktoberfest hangover, women’s health is a joke for In Media Res. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/2012/11/08/nursing-our-pinktoberfest-hangover
 Dr. Gloria J. Galanes (Professor, Missouri State University) and Dr. Heather J. Carmack (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies) co-authored the article “‘He’s really setting an example': Student contributions to the learning environment,” published in Communication Studies (Volume 64, Issue 1, pp. 49-65)
Dr. Sharon R. Mazzarella (Professor and Director, Communication Studies) edited “Content & Representation” a volume of the International Encyclopedia of Media Studies which was published by Blackwell in January 2013.
Dr. Susan Opt (Associate Professor of Communication Studies) authored the article “Enhancing speech creativity and preparation” which was published in Communication Teacher (Volume 26, Issue 4, pp. 224-227).
Grants Awarded:
Dr. Heather J. Carmack (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies) was awarded a $4,000 Summer Faculty Grant by the James Madison University College of Arts & Letters for the development and validation of the Death-Related Communication Apprehension Scale
Dr. Michael K. Davis (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies) received $48,000 from the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation to conduct and assess the impact of public debate courses on undergraduate students, specifically exploring engaged citizenry and digital literacy.