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Professor Smith Receives Award

The Department congratulates Professor Rachel Smith on being named PA's 2018 Public Health Prevention Ambassador by the Secretary of Health on Friday November 16th. Professor Smith, who was nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship (PCAS), is being recognized for her role in the creation of PCAS and communication research to advance judicious use of antibiotics. The award will be presented at Antibiotics Awareness Art and Video Competitions Award Ceremony at the Pennsylvania State Museum on November 16th, where Professor Smith will give a speech to share her perspective as an Ambassador.


Before the semester is officially over, we wanted to let you know of some great course opportunities for Fall 2018!

Interested in speech, debate, argument, or public/political discourse? All of the following courses cover those topics. CAS 210 and 311 are excellent follow-up courses to CAS 100 or 201 (while offering Gen Ed credit). All of them should interest students enrolled in the Rhetoric minor.

Please feel free to contact CAS Academic Advisor Kristie Kalvin ( or CAS Director of Undergraduate Studies Brad Vivian ( about availability for Fall!


CAS 210 (GH) - Landmark Speeches on Democracy and Dissent

Landmark Speeches on Democracy and Dissent is an exciting new course that offers a survey of key speeches, debates, and controversies making up the rich tradition of U.S. civic life.


CAS 311 (GH) - Rhetorical Criticism

Rhetorical Criticism exposes students to the theories and practices of conducting rhetorical analyses of speeches, newspapers, television, commercials, movies, slogans, debates, and other forms of public communication.


CAS 420 - Rhetorical Theory

This course features advanced study in the theories and ideas about rhetoric first introduced in CAS 201. It emphasizes how the study and practice of rhetoric helps us to care for ourselves, as individuals, as citizens, as participants in relationships, and as members of communities.

Peer Educators Lead Conversation on Sexual Assault at Penn State

Communication Arts and Sciences Doctoral Candidate John Rountree is the instructor for CAS/PLSC 409: Democratic Deliberation this semester. Students in Democratic Deliberation study the importance of deliberation to effective participation and decision-making in civic institutions. During the course of the class, John and his students decided to organize a public deliberation on an important issue, thereby promoting skill in sound deliberation beyond the classroom. On the evening of Monday, April 16, 2018, they held a public conversation on sexual assault at Penn State in the HUB. Planning for the event involved coordination the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council, the Penn State Gender Equity Center, and co-sponsorship with the Center for Democratic Deliberation. John and the students in CAS/PLSC 409 have shown admirable leadership, skill, and initiative in putting their academic lessons into public practice. In doing so, they have contributed to enhancing the quality of deliberative engagement on campus in general.


To read more click here.

To view photos click here.

Speech and Debate Team heads to Wisconsin

The Department has high hopes for the Penn State Speech and Debate Team as they head to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to compete at the National Forensic Association National tournament! Pictured here are members Kapila Komnareddy, Lilian Schaefer, Miao Han, Josh Kwak, Alex Lawson, Elisa Vogel, and Seckin Kara, along with coach and CAS Teaching Professor Margaret Michels. Good luck to the team!!


2017 Fulbright Fellowship Update

2017 Fulbright Fellowship awardee, Laura Kastner, provided us with an update on the work she has been doing in Maylaysia!


Laura graduated from Penn State in May ’17 with a B.A. in CAS and a B.S. in Statistics. She is working now as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia, living in the small city of Kota Bharu, Kelantan. This city is notable for its “seafood” (read: anchovies), proximity to Thailand, Kelate dialect, and its 95% Muslim population. She has been teaching in a rural secondary school called SMK Padang Kala whose students range from 12-18 years old.

During the week (which runs Sunday-Thursday in the three most conservative states in Malaysia), she co-teaches 14 different classes per week, with a new set of 14 classes each month. Teaching mostly consists of playing English games and lighter activities, as the teachers want her to make English more exciting for the students and it’s difficult to keep track of where each class is in their curriculum. Outside of class, she runs Public Speaking Club, a Video Pen Pal program, Choral Speaking Club, English Society, and a Confidence & Leadership Club. Aside from classes and extracurriculars, ETAs in Malaysia are required to lead two English Camps - 1-3 days of themed activities held entirely in English. She plans to lead a girl’s fitness-themed camp, and to co-lead a national TED-style conference.

Laura says, "I have been so pleasantly surprised over the past two months – by the students’ skill and insightfulness, by the teachers’ concern and hospitality, by the community’s enthusiasm and warmth, and by my own ability to adapt to living without comforts that I previously considered necessities. I look forward to continuing to forge close bonds at school, to exposing my students to new ideas and opportunities, and to discovering more about the city and culture I feel so lucky to be a part of."

Keep up the great work, Laura!


To view more photos, please visit our facebook: click here.

2017-2018 Student Marshal

We are proud and delighted to recognize Erica Reeves as this year's student marshal from CAS!

Erica’s academic record is truly exemplary. She has maintained an superlative GPA as a double major in two demanding programs (CAS as well as Political Science). She has also excelled as an Honors student. Erica has diligently selected her coursework to provide a stellar foundation for her professional ambitions concerning law, politics, and history. Beyond the classroom, she has admirably sought out additional academic experiences, including her service as a research assistant for doctoral research on election outcomes and democratic citizenship. Erica’s all-around professionalism as well as her commitment to the broader community is evident in the various societies to which she belongs. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society, and the Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity.

Posdoctoral Teaching Fellow Awarded Student Academic Achievement Award

The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences would like to congratulate Jessica Kurr, CAS Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, on being selected as the winner of the 2018 Student Academic Achievement Award by The Penn State President's Commission on LGBTQ!

To read more about the Student Academic Achievement Award and Penn State President's Commission on LGBTQ please click here.

Congratulations Jessica!


Speech & Debate Team - John Carroll University Results

The Penn State Speech and Debate Team competed at John Carroll University this past weekend.  The team placed second in sweepstakes.  Mia Han competed in semi-finals and won 3rd place novice speaker for both the tournament and the conference.  Sean Reilly placed 6th in impromptu speaking.  Seckin Kara placed 1st in informative speaking, 2nd in extemporaneous speaking and 4th in impromptu.

The regular season has now ended with the team qualifying eight of the nine active members to the NFA national tournament to be held in OshKosh Wisconsin in April.



Speech & Debate Team - PA Forensic Association Tournament Results

The team did well this weekend during the guidance of Jeremy Johnson.  Here are the results and attached is a photo of the team.

The 2018 Pennsylvania Forensic Association tournament at Bloomsburg University was a tremendous success for our team! Here are this last weekend's results:

Seckin Kara: 1st, Poetry Interpretation; 2nd, Impromptu; 2nd, Informative; 3rd, Individual Sweepstakes
Neema Esfandi: 3rd, Impromptu; 3rd, Parli Speaker
Elisa Vogel: 6th, Persuasive
Sean Reilly: 6th, Impromptu; 6th, Extemp; 2nd, Parli Speaker
Elisa Vogel & Sean Reilly: 2nd, Parliamentary Debate
Neema Esfandi & Lillian Schaeffer: 3rd, Parliamentary Debate

As a team, Penn State took first place in the President's Sweepstakes (for teams with small entries) and fourth place overall. 

Speech & Debate's First Tournament of Spring 2018

This past weekend the Penn State Speech and Debate Society competed in its first tournament of the semester in Ithaca, NY. The team won first place sweepstakes award based on overall team performance.


In addition, the following individuals received awards. 

Seckin Kara received first place in informative Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking as well as second place in Impromptu speaking.

Sean Reilly received third place in impromptu speaking, qualifying him for the national tournament in April. In addition, Sean was top speaker in IPDA .

Chemiaomiao Han was awarded second place speaker in Novice Lincoln Douglas debate.

Joshua Kwak reached semifinals in Open Lincoln Douglas debate.

Elisa Vogel won second place in Open Lincoln Douglas debate and was awarded second place speaker.