Advocacy and narratives lead Page Center’s 2019 scholar grants

Annually, the center funds scholars who make important contributions to the knowledge and practice of ethics and responsibility in public communication

Credit: Page Center / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication announced funding for two important areas within the public communications field for its 2019 call for research proposals — advocacy communications and narratives in public communications. Page scholars were selected to create research projects that will build scholarly and public understanding of the two topics.

The funding is a part of the Center’s Page/Legacy Scholar Grant program. The call was announced last September, and the center received overwhelming interest in this year’s topics. From a large pool of proposals, more than 30 scholars were selected from universities in the United States, Australia and Turkey. 

“Our scholar grants have always been the cornerstone of the Center’s mission to promote ethics and integrity in public communication,” said Denise Bortree, center director and associate professor of advertising–public relations at Penn State. “For over a decade and a half, we have funded a diverse group of brilliant researchers who have tackled relevant and timely topics.”

The advocacy projects, managed by Colleen Connolly-Ahern, associate professor of advertising–public relations at Penn State, will focus on corporate social responsibility, youth activism, and advocacy for marginalized populations, among other topics. Areas of public health and social justice, specifically those focused on behavior change and social mobilization, were given priority.

"I was especially gratified to see so many top communications scholars focusing on issues of health and social justice in their research,” Connolly-Ahern said. “We were able to fund a methodologically diverse range of projects, all of which have the good of the public at their core.”

Connolly-Ahern, a Page Center senior research fellow, said the funded projects have the potential to lead to innovation in the way organizations engage in advocacy.

The narrative call, managed by Fuyuan Shen, professor of advertising–public relations at Penn State, and Heidi Edwards, professor of mass communications at Florida Institute of Technology, accepted research proposals on the uses, effects, implications and cultural uses of narratives in public communications. Among the funded projects, topics include environmental messaging, digital media, crisis communication, women in politics and more.

“Our call generated great responses among scholars from around the world,” Shen said. “It has been exciting to see the number of high-quality proposals on a range of under-explored topics. We look forward to working with our new Page scholars in putting together a high-quality volume on narratives in public communication.”

Each year, the center invites scholars to propose research ideas that direct the field toward answers for difficult questions affecting the communications industry today. Past topics include “fake news,” digital media, CSR, immigration and sustainability. 2019 scholars will have a year to complete their projects. Results are expected by July 1, 2020.

Since its 2004 founding, the Page Center, a research center in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, has become an international leader in research on ethics and integrity in public communication. Over the past 15 years, the center has funded more than 200 scholars and awarded more than $870,000 in research funding.

Funded ‘advocacy communications’ research projects

"How and when should corporations engage in social issues: Examining corporations' perceived responsibility for social advocacy," Lucinda Austin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Barbara Gaither, Elon University

"Youth activism and media relations: Advocacy and issues management in the wake of the Parkland High School shooting," Erica Ciszek, University of Texas at Austin

"The role of media discourse and NGO advocacy for marginalized populations: Fostering social change and integration," Daniela Dimitrova, Iowa State University and Emel Ozdora Aksak, Bilkent University

"Antecedents and outcomes of corporate political advocacy among consumers," Linda Hon and Leping You, University of Florida

"Playing for mental health and social change: Evaluation of an interactive game for mental health promotion among college students," Soyoon Kim and Queenie Jo-Yun Li, University of Miami

"Construction and validation of new scales of advocacy and activism," Brooke McKeever, Robert McKeever and Minhee Choi, University of South Carolina

Funded ‘narrative communications’ research projects

"Effects of narrative video political ads on voter attitudes," Jeff Conlin and Guolan Yang, Pennsylvania State University

"Are repeated stories a good strategy? Effects of textual, numeric, and visual messages in digital political communication," Juliana Fernandes and Weiting Tao, University of Miami and Yi Grace Ji. Virginia Commonwealth University

"Tell me about the #fluvaccine: Using narratives to encourage vaccination," Jeanine Guidry, Virginia Commonwealth University; Lucinda Austin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Nicole O'Donnell and Jay Adams, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Ioana Coman, Texas Tech University

"What makes social movement campaigns go viral on social media? The role of narrative features and cultural influences," Yan Jin, Yen-I Lee and Xuerong Lu, University of Georgia

"Developing the female candidate's story: An ethnographic case study of narrative development in women's political training program," Stephanie Madden, Pennsylvania State University and Abby Levenshus, Butler University

"Constructing the cowboy and Indian alliance metanarrative: Rhetorical micro-mobilizations in strategic environmental communication," Derek Moscato, Western Washington University

"Science stories over time: The longitudinal effects of consuming science narratives via social media," Jessica Myrick, Pennsylvania State University

"Correcting health misinformation through narratives: Investigating the interplay of correction message, mechanism and time," Weirui Wang, Florida International University and Yan Huang, Southern Methodist University

"The re-enchantment of narratives and authentic storytelling in disaster risk communications: A case study of 'Resilient Queensland Stories',"Jenny Zhengye Hou, Queensland University of Technology

Last Updated April 02, 2019