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Speech & Debate Society Named Voter Education Partner

Because of its commitment to providing forums for educating undergraduates about the election, the Penn State Speech & Debate Society was named a Voter Education Partner by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the organization responsible for hosting the presidential debates every election. Groups are named for their commitment of "promoting an informed and engaged citizenry" during the election by hosting Presidential DebateWatches and other election-related events.

This fall semester, the Speech & Debate Society is organizing a diverse number of events reflecting that goal. Earlier this month, they moderated a debate between the College Democrats and College Republicans, and they will be moderating an additional debate between the clubs on September 28th. Additionally, they are moderating a debate between the clubs supporting the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Donald Trump campaign on September 27th. "These events provide a great forum for students to learn about the election and help spark conversations on campus," says J. Kurr, the Director of Debate for the Speech & Debate Society and a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Communication Arts & Sciences.  

The Speech & Debate Society is also hosting Presidential DebateWatch parties for the three presidential debates and the vice-presidential debate. The first debate watch party on September 26th begins at 8:30pm in the Flex Theater (132 HUB). Neema Esfandi, the president of the Speech & Debate Society and a CAS major, will lead a discussion about expectations for the debate and reactions following the debate. "The debate watches foster interest in our political system," Esfandi says, "That is key to inspiring people to take action in their communities and their country as a whole."

Thanks to the support for the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, the Speech & Debate Society will also hosting similar watch parties on October 4th, October 9th, and October 19th for the other debates, all of which are open to the public.

Jason Traverse, the CAS Events Coordinator and CAS grad, places 2nd in PSU photo contest

Jason Traverse, our Events Coordinator and a CAS grad, has placed 2nd in the inaugural Penn State Today photo contest!

Click here to see his winning photo.

Associate Professor Emeritus Christopher Johnstone has op-ed piece in today’s Centre Daily Times

Associate Professor Emeritus Christopher Johnstone's letter to the editor titled "Blue-collar anger misdirected" is in today's CDT.


Click here to read the full article!

Essay by Dr. John Gastil featured in The Washington Post

An article about the Trump campaign penned by our own Dr. John Gastil was featured in The Washington Post yesterday.

Click here to read the full article!

Xun Zhu and Amber K. Worthington receive top student paper honors from NCA

We congratulate graduate students Xun Zhu and Amber K. Worthington on their top student paper in the Applied Division of the National Communication Association. The paper is titled "Users' Evaluations of Health Information Websites and the Impact of Message Features and Genetic Determinism on Information Diffusion: Insights into the Sharing of Science."


"This paper stems from work we did as research assistants on Dr. Rachel A. Smith’s grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The purpose of the grant is to examine how people living with a genetic condition, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD), make medical decisions and how these decisions, together with discrimination and genetic stigma, influence communication and well-being."


"In this paper we looked at how people with AATD evaluate the information and design features of the NIH website about this genetic condition and how these features influence their intention to share this information with others."


"We would like to thank Drs. Rachel A. Smith and Roxanne L. Parrott for their guidance in writing this paper. Most importantly, we are grateful to the members of the Alpha-1 Research Registry for sharing their thoughts and experiences with us."


New CAS degree to be offered in Fall '16

Starting in Fall 2016, students will be able to earn a new degree, the Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts and Sciences. This degree is perfect for students interested in combining the core communication studies with course work in research methods, math, and statistics. The degree program prepares students for success in communication graduate programs (which demand expertise in research design and quantitative analysis) and in careers as analysts (including such fields as sales, survey research, health and human services, social media, and politics). Details about the degree will be posted on the CAS undergraduate website. We look forward to welcoming the first class of students earning BS degrees in Communication Arts and Sciences!

Jon Nussbaum to be named NCA Distinguished Scholar

The Department learned that Professor Jon Nussbaum will be named an NCA Distinguished Scholar at the annual convention in November.

"I am honored to be named a Distinguished Scholar by the National Communication Association. I have been mentored and supported by an extraordinary group of colleagues and graduate students throughout the entirety of my career. Their guidance and inspiration have elevated my "game" and have been the best part of my academic life."

Congratulations to Jon on this tremendous honor!! Click here to read more.


John Gastil pens new op-ed in wake of BREXIT

In the wake of the historic Brexit vote, our own John Gastil has written this new op-ed: Click here!

Kurt Braddock interviewed by Interfaith Voices

Recently, Kurt Braddock did an interview (along with Imam Mohamed Magid) with Interfaith Voices about counter-narratives and radicalization. The show broadcasts on 85 NPR stations.

Here's the link:

Rachel McLaren becomes associate professor in the Dept. of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa

Rachel McLaren, PhD 2008, was recently granted tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa! Rachel’s research seeks to clarify the interplay of communication, cognition, and emotion in response to significant experiences, such as hurtful interactions, within personal relationships. She also examines how relationship and situational characteristics influence people’s ability to process relational messages. In the classroom, Rachel teaches courses on communication and conflict and the dark side of interpersonal communication.  While at Penn State, Rachel completed her MA under the direction of Professor Dennis Gouran, and her PhD was supervised by Professor Denise Solomon.

Congratulations, Rachel! We are Penn State proud!!