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Latest News from Communication Arts & Sciences

CAS prof Gastil writes op-ed on research showing civic impact of jury service

The multi-year study that Gastil conducted shows how serving on juries can lead citizens to become more engaged in public life. It appeared on Law Day, which is celebrated in many courthouses on May 1.

The od-ran in the Centre Daily Times and El Paso Times, which covers the county Gastil had conducted some of his jury research. The version that appeared locally in State College is online at

Grants for Graduate Students to Attend Frontiers of Democracy Conference

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy and the Center for Democratic Deliberation invite applications for small grants for graduate students interested in attending the Frontiers of Democracy Conference at Tufts University in Boston, July 16-18, 2014. This conference includes presentations and workshops featuring many of the leading figures in the deliberative democracy movement, including Peter Levine, David Matthews of the Kettering Foundation, and Penn State's own John Gastil.

Grants will be awarded to cover registration for the conference, travel and lodging, and other related expenses. Interested students should submit a brief (i.e. one-page) proposal with a paragraph summarizing their interest in the conference and a detailed budget, indicating the exact amount requested.  Proposals should be submitted to Mike Hogan by May 1, 2014.

For more information, visit the conference website at:

Prof Gutgold publishes op-ed on technology, communication, and innovation

In advance of tonight's public lecture by Peter H. Diamandis, Nichola Gutgold published an op-ed in the Centre Daily Times.

Nichola D. Gutgold is associate dean of academic affairs at Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College and a professor of communication arts and sciences. Her essay appeared in the March 31 edition of the Centre Daily Times. Here's an excerpt:

When we think of the scholarly communication process, those of us who have worked our way through the promotion and tenure process of a research institution like Penn State are likely to think about the peer reviewed journal article. And why shouldn’t we? For many decades, and still today, the peer reviewed journal article has been the main method of sharing our innovative and scholarly work. But in this age of digital communication when seeing a loved one is perhaps more likely to happen over Skype than it is over the dinner table, the notion of what it means to communicate is changing.

CDD Co-sponsors Local Public Issues Forum on Standardized Testing in Schools

A Centre County Public Issues Forum on the topic of standardized testing in schools will be held on Thursday, April 24 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. in Schlow Centre Region Library.

The central question to be addressed is:  "What is the purpose of assessment in our schools?"  This question will be discussed from various vantage points, which are previewed in this front-page story in the Centre Daily Times.  The forum aims to foster discussion about the role of standardized testing in schools, in light of recent major changes to the Pennsylvania law regarding state educational assessments.

This event, co-sponsored by the Center for Democratic Deliberation, is free and open to the public.

Get to Know Mary Mark in Liberal Arts Voices - Better Know An Adviser

Mary Mark advises multiple areas of studies including African Studies, African American Studies, Communication Arts and Sciences, Philosophy, and Woman’s Studies.She has been at Penn State for 18 years...

For the full article, please visit Liberal Arts Voices

CAS associate professor Rachel Smith interviewed about her research on stigmas

Smith provides insight into the nature and consequences of stigmatizing health conditions in an article in Penn State News.

"The things that made stigmas a more functional strategy thousands of years ago rarely exist," Smith says in the article. "Now, it won't promote positive health behavior and, in many cases, it could actually make the situation worse." The full article appears in Penn State News online.

Major gift to Penn State advances the study of democracy

Tracy and Ted McCourtney have endowed the Penn State Institute for Democracy with a transformative gift of $3 million that will enable it to advance the study of democracy and the celebration of democratic achievements.

This will provide the Institute for Democracy with a permanent endowment that will help fund student and faculty research and public outreach programs that elevate the quality of public discussions of important issues. In appreciation, the university is now using the name McCourtney Institute for Democracy. This Institute also works closely with the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Center for American Political Responsiveness.

The full story is available online at Penn State News.

New article by CAS Grad student Soo Jung Hong published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

CAS doctoral student Soo Jung Hong has published a new article in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. The article is titled, “Not at All Effective: Differences in Views on the Causes of Prescription Non-adherence Between North Korean Defectors and Medical Providers in South Korea.”

By focusing on North Korean defectors’ medical experiences in South Korea and their medical providers’ experiences treating the defectors, this article considers the differences between the views of these two groups in regard to the causes of prescription non-adherence. The results suggest that (a) whereas the defectors tended to see their symptoms as being physical in nature, the medical providers often ascribed symptoms to psychological/socio-cultural influence; (b) whereas the defectors tended to trust in their ability to self-diagnose and in their belief systems established in North Korea, the medical providers tended not to place trust in these aspects; (c) whereas the defectors tended to view the available medical treatment as inappropriate for them, the medical providers often noted the presence of tolerant bacterial strains as causes of treatment failure; and (d) whereas the defectors felt that the treatment they received was slow and ineffective and attributed this to capitalism, the medical providers felt that the defectors failed to understand the concept of staged treatments. Based on the findings, some solutions are suggested to address the complex issue of North Korean defectors’ prescription non-adherence in terms of subjective/objective health assessments and patient-centered care. North Korean defectors’ established health beliefs/lack of medical knowledge based on their previous medical and cultural experiences gave rise to beliefs and practices associated with medicine that differ significantly from those of the health providers and that have the potential to severely compromise the defectors’ health. Therefore, therapy negotiation and appropriate education are suggested as possible solutions, and as an agenda, the notion of civic friendship is addressed. Implications for medical practice, prevention, and intervention are also discussed.

For full details, see the article online at:

Affordable Summer Studies in Vienna, Austria

The new online course CAS 271 INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION makes this possible.

Dear Students,

Want to venture to Vienna for two weeks this summer? The new online course CAS
271 INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION makes this possible by including an affordable
option to broaden your horizon while earning additional credits:

CAS 271 INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION (online, May-August 2014) offers an
optional embedded 12-day trip to Vienna, Austria: CAS 297A Austria in Action
(August 4-15, 2014). The embedded trip provides formal and informal
opportunities for students to engage in dialogue with Austrians from a variety
of backgrounds. The objective is for students to develop sensitivity and
flexibility in intercultural communication settings to benefit their personal
and professional lives.

Enroll by May15: The first 15 students receive 1/2 off program costs!

Course Website:

Click here to view flyer

Questions? Contact Lead Faculty: Ines Meyer-Hoess,

CAS PhD Davis Houck featured in NYTimes article on civil rights history

Florida State professor Davis Houck was featured in a March 7 article in the New York Times. The story detailed sermons that Houck helped rediscover controversial sermons from early in the Civil Rights era. The focus was on lesser known pastors who spoke for civil rights at a time when their parishoners did not welcome that message.

CAS graduate student Kretsinger-Harries publishes new article on public memory of the Civil War

CAS doctoral student Anne Kretsinger-Harries has published a new article in the journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs. The article is titled, “Commemoration Controversy: The Harpers Ferry Raid Centennial as a Challenge to Dominant Public Memories of the U.S. Civil War.”

This essay examines the 1959 controversy over whether and how to commemorate the centennial of abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. I argue that the controversy arose because commemorating Brown's raid challenged prominent U.S. public memories of the Civil War that excluded slavery and the continued existence of white supremacy. I analyze the discursive fıelds into which the centennial commemoration entered: the heroic, patriotic, and unifying narratives of the war championed by the national organizations tasked with commemorating the Civil War centennial, and discourses of the civil rights movement and the black press that demanded a repudiation of white supremacy and the recognition of African Americans as equal citizens. Ultimately, I contend that the rhetoric that surrounded the Harpers Ferry raid commemoration sheds light on how the civil rights movement not only challenged white supremacy in its conservative form, but also pushed against the moderate and liberal manifestations of white supremacy that were embedded in the commemoration of the Harpers Ferry raid. 

Full citation of the article is Kretsinger-Harries, Anne C., “Commemoration Controversy: The Harpers Ferry Raid Centennial as a Challenge to Dominant Public Memories of the U.S. Civil War,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 17.1 (2014), 67-103

For full details, see the article online at:

CAS doctoral student Bergmaier wins IAH Summer Residency

The Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities (IAH) Graduate Student Summer Residency program has selected Mike Bergmaier as one of four Graduate Student Residents for Summer 2014 for his project, “‘I Welcome This Debate’: Secrecy, Disclosure, and Democratic Deliberation over National Security Policy in the Obama Administration.”
Mike will be granted a stipend of $4,000 and will have the use of an office in Ihlseng Cottage during summer term (May-August) to support his dissertation work. He will also then enter the Graduate Exhibition in Spring
2015. The IAH is a prestigious award and recognizes the excellence of Mike's work, as well as the importance of rhetorical scholarship in the humanities.

CAS doctoral student Bryan Blankfield receives grant from the Roosevelt Institute

CAS doctoral student Bryan Blankfield received a $750 grant from the Roosevelt Institute to continue research at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York. The grant will allow Bryan to complete his dissertation, which examines FDR's rhetorical use of his Scottish terrier, Fala, and the American public's response. It's yet more proof that Nixon wasn't the first President to use a dog for rhetorical purposes.

For more information on the FDR library, visit it online

CAS professor Parrott finds that math anxiety shapes how we process messages about genetically modified foods

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- People who feel intimidated by math may be less able to understand messages about genetically modified foods and other health-related information, according to researchers.

"Math anxiety, which happens when people are worried or are concerned about using math or statistics, leads to less effort and decreases the ability to do math," said Roxanne Parrott, Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Health Policy and Administration. "Math anxiety also has been found to impair working memory."

The researchers found that math anxiety led to a decrease in comprehension for people who read statistics in a message about genetically modified foods, while an increase in skills in math and a confidence in those skills led to better comprehension.

For the full PSU News Article Click Here

For the full Scholarly Article Click Here

CDD Fellows to Present Research at CAS Colloquium

The Center for Democratic Deliberation fellows will present their research at the Communication Arts and Sciences Colloquium on Friday, February 28 at 3:35 p.m. in 158 Willard, University Park Campus. This event is free and open to the public.

The Center for Democratic Deliberation fellows will present their research at the Communication Arts and Sciences Colloquium on Friday, February 28 at 3:35 p.m. in 158 Willard, University Park Campus.  This event is free and open to the public.

The colloquium will feature the following presentations:

“RE: Invention--Transforming the First Canon for the Age of Peer Production"
Kristopher M. Lotier, CDD Fellow

“Rhetoric & Nomisa”
Billy Saas, CDD Fellow

“‘To Willie with Compliments’: Disclosing and Concealing World War I in Battle of the Somme”
John Minbiole, Rock Ethics Fellow

“‘I Welcome This Debate’: Secrecy, Disclosure, and Metadeliberation in the Edward Snowden Saga”
Mike Bergmaier, CDD Fellow

PSU alumni Larry and Lynne Brown endow the Democracy Medal

The Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal spotlights and honors the best work being done to advance democracy here and internationally. This fall, the Penn State Institute for Democracy will recognize a practical innovation, such as new institutions, laws, technologies or movements that advance the cause of democracy. Next year's award will highlight advances in democratic theory that enrich philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy.

The Democracy Institute works in partnership with the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Center for American Political Responsiveness to advance our understanding of democracy in the U.S. and abroad.

For the full details, see the story on Penn State Live:

CAS hiring full-time lecturers to teach public speaking

The Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University invites applications for full-time lecturer positions to teach our basic public speaking course.

Full-time lecturers will teach undergraduate courses in Communication Arts & Sciences. A MA degree in a related field is required. Candidates with Ph.D. degrees in the discipline may also be assigned to teach upper level undergraduate courses, but our principal need is for teaching public speaking. The start date for these positions is August 2014. These are one year, non-tenure track appointments with the possibility of reappointment. Full-time lecturers normally teach three courses per semester, but those capable of teaching four sections per semester may be invited to do so at a proportionately higher salary. Applications received by March 1 will be assured of consideration; however, all applications will be considered until the position is filled. To be considered for this position, applications must be submitted electronically at (job # 41858). Include (1) a formal letter of application detailing relevant qualifications for this job, (2) a curriculum vitae with three references listed, (3) and evidence of teaching effectiveness. We encourage applications from individuals of diverse backgrounds. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies. 

Former CAS professor Gene White has passed away

Gene White taught in our department for decades, and he retired in 1986. Several of his colleagues and former students contributed chapters to a volume in his honor, American Rhetoric: Context and Criticism. More details are provided in the obituary that appeared in the February 13, 2014 edition of the Centre Daily Times.

Read more here: CDT Obituary

Eugene Edmond White Eugene Edmond White, Ph.D., 94, passed away on February 6, 2014, in Ocala, Fla. Author of more than 40 professional articles and books on Puritan rhetoric and the history and criticism of American public address.

Anne Merrill joining CAS faculty in 2014-15

Anne Merrill, who is completing her PhD at the University of California-Santa Barbara, will join the CAS faculty starting in the summer of 2014. She will add to the department's depth in interpersonal communication, social influence, and family community.

Merrill's complete CV is available online at her UCSB webpage. <>

An example of a recent article of hers is this 2012 study of topic avoidance:

Merrill, A. F. & Afifi, T. D. (2012) Examining the Bi-Directional Nature of Topic Avoidance and Relationship Dissatisfaction: The Moderating Role of Communication Skills. Communication Monographs, 79 , 499-521.

English/CAS professor Hawhee receives NEH fellowship

Professor Debra Hawhee, professor of English and communication arts and sciences, is studying the curious and contradictory role animals played in pre-modern language theories and language training. Her fellowship will allow her to complete her book on animals in the history of rhetoric from Aesop to Erasmus.

Professor Hawhee's most recent book, about Kenneth Burke's interwoven theories of bodies and language, won the Diamond Anniversary Book Award from the National Communication Association in 2010. She was an IAH Resident Scholar during 2011-12. For full details on this and other new NEH fellowships won by Penn State faculty, see

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