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Research & Outreach

Research & Engaged Scholarship

At Colorado State University, research and engaged scholarship across the communication studies areas of film and media studies, relational and organizational communication, and rhetoric and civic engagement:

  • explores meaning and identity;
  • challenges and reframes assumptions;
  • creates new pathways for expressing, listening, and leading;
  • elevates how we communicate within and across personal, professional and public spheres; and,
  • addresses the complexity of our humanness.
>> What is engaged scholarship?

We identify communication research as “engaged scholarship” when it explores how to improve the way people live, work, make decisions, relate, create, and thrive.

Department Research Projects

Laboratory for Engaged Communication

Located in 208 Eddy - where the offices of the Department of Communication Studies were once housed, the Laboratory for Engaged Communication offers faculty and graduate students a flexible space for conducting cutting edge communication research from a social science perspective. The space, which opened Fall 2015, allows for a variety of activities, including but not limited to:

  • Collecting data using experimental, focus group, interview, and physiological methods.
  • Training undergraduate and graduate researchers.
  • Conducting a variety of research team meetings.
3 women sitting with a video camera

Speaking Well Podcast

greg speaking well

“Speaking Well” is a Department of Communication Studies podcast hosted by Professor and Chair Greg Dickinson. Each episode explores communication in everyday life through the lens of how communication research can provide resources for navigating complex interactions within personal and professional relationships, politics and civic engagement, media and film, intercultural communication, and many other contexts.

The project began in Fall 2020.

Conference Activity

2020 Western States Communication Association Convention

Katie Gibson: “A Rupture in the Courtroom: Collective Rhetoric, Survivor Speech, and the Subversive Potentiality of the Victim Impact Statement”

~Top Paper Award in ORWAC

Ziyu Long: “Tuishou (Pushing Hands) as Women’s Entrepreneuring from the Margin: A Feminist Institutional Work Analysis of Women’s Start-up Experience in China”

~ Top Paper Award in Organization Communication

Ziyu Long: “The Quarter-Life Crisis Before Graduation: An Explorative Study of Competing Discourses in GenZ’ Everyday Career Narratives”

~Top Paper Award in Organization Communication

Taylor Weigel: “Shifting Expectations: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Creation of an Enclaved Public Screen Through Instagram Stories”

~Top Debut Paper in Rhetoric, Culture, and Advocacy

Andrew Gilmore: “United by (Manchester) United: Re-theorizing Intercultural and Interpersonal Communication for Sojourner Survival”

~Top Paper Award in Communication Theory and Research

Kristin Slattery: “There’s No Luck Out Here’: Colonial Legacies in Wind River

~Top Student Paper in Media Studies

2019 National Communication Association Convention

Emily Amedée: “(Re)Communicating the University: Women and the Land Grant Promise”

~Top Student Paper, American Studies Division

Ben Pettis: “Finstas, Young Adults, and Stardom: The Construction and Presentation of Identities on Instagram”

~ Top Paper Award, NCA Master’s Education Section

2019 Western States Communication Association Convention

Savanna Renee Depew: “Home is where the Work is: The Role of Businesses in the Creation of a Sense of Belonging for Diasporic Communities”

~Top Student Paper

2019 Western States Communication Association Convention

Savanna Renee Depew: “Home is where the Work is: The Role of Businesses in the Creation of a Sense of Belonging for Diasporic Communities”

~Top Student Paper

2018 National Communication Association Convention

Juliet SooGin Letteney: “The Polysemous Border between North and South Korea: Metaphors for Unification at the Demilitarized Zone”

~James L. Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric from the National Communication Association

Thomas R. Dunn: Queerly RememberedRhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ Past (2016, University of South Carolina Press)

~Book of the Year by the NCA GLBTQ Communication Studies Division

Elinor Light:”Aesthetic Ruptures: Viewing Graffiti as the Emplaced Vernacular”

~NCA Visual Communication Division’s Outstanding Article of the Year Award

Dr. Karrin Vasby Anderson named Editor-Elect of the Quarterly Journal of Speech

Dr. Greg Dickinson named Editor-Elect of Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies

2018 Western States Communication Association Convention

Dr. Elizabeth Williams, co-authored with Andrew Ishak: “Exploring the Mindsets of Resilience in High Reliability Organizations”

~Top Paper Award from the Communication Theory and Research Interest Group

Jed Chalupa: ““Scapegoating to Preserve Hegemonic Ideology: An Examination of Criminal Minds’ Representation of Sex Work as a Means of Hegemonic Maintenance.”

~Top Paper Panel in ORWAC Division

Hayley Blonsley: “Facing the Rise of Modern Fascism: Disrobing White Supremacy in the Alt-Right Movement”

~Top Paper Panel in the Freedom of Expression and Political Communication Division for WSCA

2017 National Communication Association Convention

Dr. Tom Dunn: New Investigator Award from NCA’s Critical Cultural Studies Division

Dr. Allison Prasch: Golden Anniversary Monograph Award

~“Toward a Rhetorical Theory of Deixis,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 102, no. 2 (2016): 166-193.

Dr. Karrin Anderson: “Political Pornification Gone Global: Teresa Rodreguez as Fungible Object in the Spanish Regional Elections.”

~ Political Communication Division Top Paper Panel (coathored with Ignacio Moreno) 

Dr. Elizabeth Williams: Outstanding Edited Volume Award from the Organization Communication Division

Hailey Otis: “An Inflammatory Femme and a Queer Black Feminist Form: Ashleigh Shackelford’s Queering of Fat Activism Through the Polemic.”

~Top Paper Panel Award, Feminist and Women’s Studies Division

2017 Western States Communication Association Convention

Dr. Katie Gibson: “Memetic Celebration and ‘The Notorious R.B.G.’: Reimagining Feminist Dissent and Mobilizing Feminist Practice.”
~Top Paper, Organization for Research on Women and Communication

Hailey Otis: “Fat, Queer, and Visible: Tess Holliday and the Queering of Fat Acceptance Rhetoric.”
~Top Paper Panel, Organization for Research on Women and Communication

Jordin Clark: “Protesting Power Structures: Bodies in Space during the Black Friday Protest.”
~Top Paper Panel, Freedom of Expression and Political Communication

Upcoming Conferences/Calls for Submission

2021 RSA Summer Institute (Syracuse, NY – VIRTUAL)
2021 International Communication Association Conference (VIRTUAL)
2021 International Association for Relationship Research Main Conference (Imperial College – London, UK)
2021 8th European Communication Conference (Braga, Portugal [postponed from 2020])
2021 National Communication Association Convention (Seattle, WA)
2021 Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender Annual Conference (Norfolk, VA)
  • Conference Website
  • Submission deadline: June 6, 2021
  • Conference Dates: October 6-10, 2021
2021 Aspen Conference (VIRTUAL)
2022 Western States Communication Association Convention (Portland, OR)
2022 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (TBA)
2022 Rhetoric Society of America 20th Biennial Conference (Baltimore, MD)
  • Calls for Submissions
  • Submission Deadline: TBA
  • Conference Date: May 26-29, 2022
  • Note: this conference accepts individual paper abstract submissions, in addition to panel submissions

Center for Public Deliberation

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) was established in the Fall of 2006 and serves as an impartial resource for the northern Colorado community to assist in community problem-solving. We analyze issues, design public participation events, host forums that students facilitate, and write reports on key issues while working with a wide variety of local institutions, including city, county, and state government, school districts, and campus and community organizations. Deliberation requires safe places for citizens to come together, good and fair information to help structure the conversation, and skilled facilitators to guide the process, and the CPD is dedicated to providing these three key ingredients to Northern Colorado.


Dedicated to enhancing local democracy through improved public communication and community problem-solving.

For an extended video of CPD Director Martin Carcasson explaining the work of the CPD and the need to change the way we talk about tough issues in our democracy, watch the video below:

ACT festival 2

Connecting at the intersection of culture, art, and social justice

ACT festival

Colorado State University’s ACT Human Rights Film Festival brings the best and most recent human rights cinema to northern Colorado

ACT festival 3

Through the shared experience of film and conversation, ACT cultivates empathy and new perspectives

Festival History

ACT (which stands for Awaken, Connect, Transform) was born out of expertise in the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University in the area of film and media studies. Professor Scott Diffrient held the William E. Morgan Endowed Chair of Liberal Arts from 2013-2016 and dedicated a portion of his funding to establish the first-ever human rights film festival occurring in the Rocky Mountain West.

Professor Diffrient’s vision is that every year ACT curates relevant, artistically excellent, and recently produced documentary and narrative feature film that explores a range of human rights issues, as outlined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Programmatic highlights:

  • The first ACT Human Rights Film Festival took place in April 2016.
  • Harry Belafonte, Jr. attended closing night of the 2017 festival.
  • In November 2018, ACT was accepted into the Human Rights Film Network. Membership grants ACT the opportunity to learn from and partner with more than 40 other human rights film festival occurring world-wide.
  • In February 2019, ACT launched new year-round film screenings. ACT Year-Round engages audiences in important human rights and social justice conversation all year. The program also takes place in a variety of locations, helps remove barriers and increase access, and is highly collaborative with community groups and partners.
  • With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the fifth annual festival scheduled for April was postponed until October and shifted to an all-virtual format.