October 2010 Archives

from the College of the Liberal Arts:

National Research Council Ranks Liberal Arts Ph.D. Programs Among the Nation's Best

The College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State is firmly on the road to becoming a top public liberal arts college, as illustrated by the recently-released National Research Council rankings. Twelve of the thirteen programs evaluated in the report posted dramatic gains in national ratings of faculty and student productivity, with Anthropology taking the no. 1 spot, five other programs in the top 10 percent of their respective fields, and another five in the top 25 percent.

"I'm delighted to say that the outstanding work of our faculty and staff, the support of the administration, and the investments our alumni and friends have made have really paid off over the last two decades," said Dr. Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. "When I arrived in 1991, President Bryce Jordan made it clear that Liberal Arts had to climb considerably if Penn State was to realize its goal of being a top public university. In the last NRC report in 1995, only two departments were ranked in the top quarter of their disciplines, but now we have eleven programs there. By any standard, we did very well." . . .

read the rest of the story here

The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences colloquium and the Center for Democratic Deliberation lecture series on Religion, Politics, and Democratic Deliberation will host a lecture by Professor Martin J. Medhurst on Friday, October 29, 3:35 - 5:00 p.m., in 165 Willard Building on the University Park Campus. Professor Medhurst's lecture is titled "Barack Obama and the Politics of Faith."

Professor Medhurst is Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Communication and Professor of Political Science at Baylor University.

At its 71st annual conference, held this year in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Communication Association awarded the Donald H. Ecroyd Research and Scholarship Award to Associate Professor Christopher Lyle Johnstone of Penn State University.

Professor Johnstone was honored for his long career of scholarship in the discipline and for his most recent work, Listening to the Logos: Speech and the Coming of Wisdom in Ancient Greece (University of South Carolina Press, 2009).

At its 71st annual conference, held this year in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Communication Association awarded the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Service Award to Penn State Professor Dennis Gouran.

The award recognizes recognizes Professor Gouran's many contributions in service, scholarship, and leadership.

Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities

Postdoctoral/ MFA Fellowships:  Being Humans



For artists and humanists, these are extraordinary times: our sense of "the human" is undergoing remarkable transformations, with implications for the future of all life on the planet.  How should we understand our relation to animal cognition, to artificial intelligence, to the biosphere, to disability, to genetics?  Can we imagine a form of humanism in which the boundaries of the human are unstable? 


Applicants should have received their terminal degrees (PhDs in the humanities, MFAs in the fine and performing arts, Masters or beyond in design fields such as architecture) within the past three years.  Applications should include a cv, two letters of recommendation, a project description of 1000 words, and (for applicants in the arts or design) a sample of work on a single DVD.  Fellowship stipends are $42,000 plus benefits and a $2,000 research fund; fellows will be required to teach one course each semester in their discipline.  Fellows will be given office space at the Institute.  It is expected that fellows will take part in the intellectual life of campus, working with faculty and students, attending symposia and events, and contributing to meetings and discussions presented by IAH.


All application materials must be received at this address by January 15, 2011:


The Institute for Arts and Humanities

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Penn State University

Ihlseng Cottage

University Park, PA 16802


For more information, call (814) 865-0495 or write to arts-humanities@psu.edu. 

At the November conference of the National Communication Association in San Francisco, Mary Grace Antony, Lecturer in Communication Arts & Sciences, will be awarded a place on the top paper panel of the International and Intercultural Division, and, as the author of the top-rated paper in the division will be announced as the winner of the Cooley Award.

Title: "Slum-Pups No More": Rescuing India's Slum Children

Indian poverty is often portrayed abroad in a manner that upholds imperialist frameworks of repression and Orientalist deviance, while simultaneously endorsing a White interventionist rhetoric to rescue the poor from their squalor. Third-world children constitute an especially vulnerable victim category. This study compares Indian and international news coverage of two child stars of the recent blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire, both of whom were living in a slum during the film's production, then taken to Hollywood for the Academy Awards, and finally deposited back in their slum homes. Findings reveal that although Indian coverage focused on the two children's celebrity status at the cost of ignoring other slum children's participation in the film, Western coverage promoted an interventionist rhetoric that commodified and distributed the spectacle and wretchedness of poverty. The two children were thus reduced to empty signifiers within a larger narrative of capitalist promotion and subjugation that diminished the agency of the marginalized and underprivileged.

Robin Haynes--Robin deserves recognition for the thankless jobs that she does with office moves and phones. She displayed excellent organizational skills when moving Sonia Stover and me to 231 Sparks and also during the moves that occurred over the summer to bring Lynn Maggs and Sally Arnold into 234 Sparks. Each move she coordinated went off without a hitch. I know personally how much time she took to make sure everything was done correctly and without question. Her attention to detail was remarkable especially during a very busy time. A job well done, Robin! Submitted by Staci Kelly

The You Rock! awards are here.

Thanks, Robin, for all you do for the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences
    J. Michael Hogan, Liberal Arts Research Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Co-Director of the Center for Democratic Deliberation at Penn State, has been appointed to the Steering Team for a major national symposium on civility and democratic discourse to be held at the National Constitution Center (NCC) in Philadelphia on March 26-27, 2011.  Entitled Democratic Discontent: A Public Symposium on Civility and Democracy in America, the event will feature participants from a wide variety of academic disciplines, as well as political commentators and activists from across the political spectrum.  Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from the NCC, the symposium's tentative schedule includes a keynote address by former president Bill Clinton, a series of study groups on public discourse and dissent in American politics, and a Town Hall Forum.  The symposium will conclude with a workshop designed to help the NCC develop new national programs on the themes of dissent, civility, and democracy in America.
    Hogan will be joining a stellar list of scholars, political leaders, journalists and political commentators, and civic and business leaders at the symposium.   Among those already slated to speak are documentary filmmaker Ken Burns,  Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg School of Communication,  Michael Schudson of the Columbia University School of Journalism,  John Yoo, Professor of Law at the University of California, and Beth Simone Noveck, Director of the White House Open Government Initiative.  The list of participants also includes representatives of various grass-roots political movements, leaders of civic, religious, and business groups, and representatives of educational and philanthropic organizations.  The symposium will be videotaped and disseminated through a wide variety of outlets, and it will form the basis for a new series of scholarly monographs sponsored by the NCC.           

Distinguished Professor Michael Hecht writes to tell us "that the Office of National Drug Control Policy has highlighted the work of Michelle Miller-Day and Jennifer Kam (doctoral graduate from CAS). These notices are distributed to drug prevention researchers and practitioners around the US and only the most important research gets this sort of recognition."

Here is the entry from the ONDC report:

More than just openness: developing and validating a measure of targeted parent-child communication about alcohol.

Miller-Day M, Kam JA. Health Commun. 2010 Jun;25(4):293-302.

Research addressing parent-child communication on the topic of alcohol use relies heavily on assessing frequency of discussions and general assessments of openness in parent-child communication, ignoring the complexity of this communication phenomenon. This study adds to the literature by articulating a conceptualization and developing a measurement of parent-child communication-targeted parent-child communication about alcohol-and comparing the efficacy of targeted parent-child communication about alcohol in predicting positive expectancies of alcohol use and recent alcohol use. The predictive power of general openness in parent-child communication and frequency of communication about alcohol also were assessed. Students in fifth and sixth grade (N = 1,407) from 29 public schools completed surveys. Targeted parent-child communication about alcohol was negatively associated with both outcomes. Frequency and general openness were only negatively associated with positive expectancies regarding alcohol. Implications of these findings for the etiology and prevention of substance use are discussed. More>>

The Office of National Drug Control Policy is here.
The Department of Communication Arts & Sciences Attains Top 4 Ranking in NRC Assessment of Doctoral Program

Penn State's Department of Communication Arts & Sciences was highly ranked by the National Research Council (NRC) in its nation-wide review of Ph.D. granting programs. Out of 83 PhD programs - with emphases spanning speech communication, communication science, telecommunications, and mass communication - Communication Arts & Sciences ranked 4th on an index of reputational excellence, and 2nd among communication PhD programs that offer training in both social science and rhetoric. Using an index that applied survey-based weights to 20 program characteristics, Communication Arts & Sciences ranked 10th overall. The Department also ranked 7th among comparable programs for the level of support provided to its graduate students. To view the complete rankings of Ph.D. programs in Communication, go to phds.org.

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