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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 Willard O. Eddy Hall room 13, 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 originally opened in Eddy Hall room 208 in 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, and
  • conducting a variety of research team meetings.
A professor and college student sit at a table together, both smiling. The professor is manipulating a video camera on a tripod on the table. A closed laptop sits before the student.

Speaking Well Podcast

greg speaking well

Speaking Well was a Department of Communication Studies podcast hosted by Professor and Chair Greg Dickinson. Each episode explored communication in everyday life through the lens of how communication research provides 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 and concluded in Spring 2021.

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:

A group of 16 people stands together smiling in front of a white background that reads "Colorado State University, ACT Human Rights Film Festival: Awaken, Connect, Transform"

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

A group of 4 students stands together, looking at a smartphone. The student holding the phone is wearing a facemask and a T-shirt that reads "ACT Human Rights Film Festival"

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.
  • After going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, in 2022 ACT returned to in-person programming in Fort Collins while still offering virtual film screenings as well.