Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Charles H. Woolbert Research Awardee Dr. Kathleen Krone

Dr.Kathy Krone was recently awarded the prestigious Charles H. Woolbert Research Award from the National Communication Association for a paper she co-authored with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Alumini Dr. Erika L. Kirby. Their article 'The Policy Exists but You Can't Really Use It:'Communication and the Structuration of Work-Family Policies,” published in the Journal of Applied Communication earned the award for its continued conceptual and theoretical significance to the field of Communication Studies. Dr. Krone was kind enough to answer a few questions about the project and the award:
What initially inspired the article?
I was teaching a graduate seminar that included an introduction to structuration theory. At the time the theory had gained visibility among organizational communication scholars but very few had actually chosen it as a guiding theoretical framework for research. Erika Kirby was enrolled in that course.  She had earned her Masters’ in communication at the University of Minnesota and her advisor had been Scott Poole, a major scholar in organizational communication who also had written on the subject of structuration theory. Erika had exposure to the theory through Scott and through my seminar and it became the guiding theory for her dissertation. We had discussed everyday interaction around organizational policies as an interesting subject for research. I believe Erika also happened to be expecting her first child during the dissertation process and the subject of work-family policies and their uses was very salient to her and her husband. Linda Gallant, another earlier doctoral advisee, studied employee talk about EEO policies and how differences in interpretation across majority and minority group members complicated the implementation of these policies. Linda did not use structuration theory; took a more rhetorical approach instead, but these two projects were completed within the same 3-5 year period of time.   
When did the translational potential of the piece become apparent?
Dr. Braithwaite held an NCA leadership position and the association decided to begin a translational publication outlet that became what now is known as Communication Currents.  She knew of Erika’s dissertation and invited us to submit a translational essay as a prototype for how these translational essays should appear and read.  In addition, the subject of work-family/life are of great concern to many people who want and need to work but who also value having a life!  Erika’s dissertation also spoke to the importance of having a supportive supervisor to making these policies work well.  The Kirby &  Krone article directs attention to the importance of co-worker communication, so if organizations are serious about their support for work and family/life, we learned that the quality of communication on the part of both supervisors and co-workers about the use of these policies becomes very important.
Considering the continued popularity of the article, are there any changes or amendments that you would make if you could go back?
Erika’s work and my own work has taken a more critical turn over the years.  If I were to make any changes in the article or approach a similar project again, I might emphasize my current understanding that when organizations are required by law to offer certain policies, these policies often are written and implemented in ways that best serve the legal needs of the organization (i.e., help protect the organization against formal complaints and lawsuits).  Assuming that these policies exist mainly to benefit employees now seems a bit politically innocent to me!
Why do you think researchers and readers find the article interesting?
I think many people have experienced the complications associated with wanting and needing to rely on these policies and the realities of making them work well in practice.  Even today when the subject comes up in conversations people will complain about how the organization they work for (or used to work for!) paid lip service to work-life issues, but did not really care.  So, these policies and their use becomes an interesting site of contradiction to talk about and work through and around.  I also think there is some growing awareness of how much more support there is for work-family/life by corporations operating outside the U. S.  Organizations located in many northern European countries, for example, offer far more generous benefits related to work and life than do those located in the U. S. 
What advice or recommendations would you give future scholars seeking to make similar contributions to the field?
I would advise a future scholar to begin with an important and socially/politically consequential problem and then locate a promising theory or two that will help him/her learn more about that problem and also make an important difference in the everyday lives of people.  In my experience the process of bringing practice to theory first and then theory back to practice produces the most interesting projects and the most socially useful social theoretical developments.   

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Photos from the Spring 2015 Capstone Poster Session

Each semester, students in COMM 495: Capstone, present the results of a semester-long research project. Check them out below the jump, or see them as a slideshow

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dr. Aaron Duncan on Pokernews

In advance of the publication of Dr. Aaron Duncan's new book, Gambling with the Myth of the American Dream (Routledge, 2015), Pokernews just published an op-ed written by Duncan.

A brief excerpt:

The ability of professional poker players to understand, tolerate, and manage risk makes them role models for entrepreneurs in a system where those skills are vital to economic success and survival. Poker is, after all, the most capitalistic of card games. I contend that poker is therefore the best metaphor for our modern economy. 
Survival in the modern economy relies on one's ability to tolerate and manage. The new "American Dream" is less concerned about hard work and social virtue and more concerned with the acquisition of wealth. Poker is a fascinating game, but it has never been concerned with the promotion of social welfare. Poker did not cause these changes to the American Dream. Indeed, its popularity reflects larger changes in American culture and the growth of the risk society. From worries about the stock market, mortgages and job layoffs to foreign wars, global warming and terrorism, contemporary American culture is dominated by the discussion of risk. 
Myths are the stories a culture uses to establish group identity and purpose. They help us make sense of the world and teach us values and morals. The traditional myth of the American Dream featured as its main character the "self-made man." The self-made man — the concept that any person can be successful through hard work, virtue and talent — is rooted in America's Puritan heritage and continues to shape American thought. However, the character of the self-made man has changed. I believe that the popularity of poker signals a changing American culture that is increasingly accepting of risk and focused on acquiring wealth. At the center of this latest version of the American Dream is a new kind of hero, a poker player. 
No player's journey from rags, or rather middle class, to riches better represents this new telling of the story than Chris Moneymaker. In the telling of his story, the Protestant work ethic with a desire for quick gains, social, and individual virtue are replaced by a warlike mentality that encourages deception and misinformation. Success depends more on luck and less on hard work. When the self-made man becomes the self-made poker player the fundamental values at the center of the myth of the American Dream are changed.
As they say, read the whole thing!

Friday, January 30, 2015

News, Notes, and Awards from UNL's Communication Studies Department!

Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas, Associate Professor of is one of five of five UNL faculty members in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Academic Leadership Program this year and an Administrative Fellow in the UNL Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.    

Dr. Damien Pfister is one of three UNL faculty who received the grant, “Study of the U.S. Institute on Civic Engagement,” from the U.S. Department of State.  The SUSI grant brought 20 undergraduate leaders from Africa to UNL in January 2015.  Damien is a co-PI with Patrice McMahon of Political Science and Linda Major from the Center for Civic Engagement at UNL. 

Amy Arellano, doctoral candidate, has won several awards, recognizing her as an inspiring teacher and mentor. She is receiving the American Forensics Association’s Young Coach Award based on both her coaching pedagogy and her commitment to the community.  The association placed a special focus on her work of using ballots as rhetorical teaching moments.  As a coach, Amy teaches students to frame their topics as cultural critiques as a method to increase social advocacy.  She also won of two Department of Communication Studies Graduate Student Teaching Awards this year.

Dr. Aaron Duncan received the Omicron Delta Kappa honorary Professor of the Month Award. Founded in 1914, OΔK was the first college honor society of a national scope to give recognition and honor for meritorious leadership and service in extracurricular activities and to encourage development of general campus citizenship and has had 300,000 members nationally.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and Department Chair, has been named a Master Teacher in the Western States Communication Association. Her contributions as teacher were recognized at the association’s annual meeting in Spokane Washington in February 2015. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Charles Braithwaite Sent to Siberia

Dr. Charles Braithwaite (Communication Studies & Center for Great Plains Study) is traveling to Siberia to as part of the Fulbright Program:

For nine years, Charles Braithwaite and his UNL students have been interacting with counterparts in Russia — but only through audio and video beamed over the Internet. In September, he’ll turn the tables as he teaches his popular Global Classroom curriculum from Tyumen State University in western Siberia. 
Teaching the class from a new perspective is just one facet of Braithwaite’s four-week endeavor to Russia as a Fulbright Specialist. He’ll also be working with faculty and administrators at Tyumen State on further adapting the Global Classroom, which is a Communication Studies class that connects UNL students to countries around the world. Through the class, students interact face-to-face with their peers in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey.
The Fulbright Specialist Program awards grants to faculty approved to join the Specialist Roster in their selected discipline. Once selected, these professionals can participate in short-term collaborative projects with institutions in more than 140 countries. They remain on the roster for five years. 
Braithwaite will arrive in Russia on Aug. 29. During his stay, he plans a complete evaluation of the Global Classroom with Russian colleagues to ensure it is up to date in technology and curricula. He said he also hopes to branch the Global Classroom into other disciplines. 
“I’ll be meeting with faculty and administrators and students in other programs besides communication to do a needs assessment to see if this could help them as well,” he said. “I’m always looking for opportunities to connect UNL to other parts of the world.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

British Debate Team to Come to Lincoln!

Since 1922, the National Communication Association has sponsored international student exchange tours for the purpose of promoting debate, discussion, and intercultural communication. Renowned for their wit, humor, and eloquence, members of the British National Debate Team tour the United States each year, debating the best and the brightest at our institutions of higher learning.

The Communication Studies Department is pleased to announce that this year, the British debaters will be making a stop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We invite you to join us for a debate on the topic of government surveillance, to be held Wednesday, October 23, 3:00-5:00pm in the auditorium of the Nebraska Union, City Campus.

The event will be free and open to the public. It promises to be educational and entertaining for students, faculty, staff, and community members interested in communication, civic engagement, international relations, and global politics. When Cambridge University debaters visited Lincoln in October 1927, over 700 spectators reportedly attended the event. We hope to draw a large crowd this year as well, and hope you will join us.


Communication Studies Department

Speech & Debate Program

Center for Civic Engagement

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dr. Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor of Communication and Chair, appeared on the nationally syndicated National Public Radio program On Point, produced by WBUR in Boston. In the July 30th 2013 show Braithwaite discussed communication during family rituals and family reunions. NPR’s On Point is carried by 260 stations nationwide, with a weekly audience of 1.2 million. The show is available here, and Dr. Braithwaite appears at the 36:40 mark. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Bill Seiler!

Dr. Bill Seiler, Professor of Communication Studies was selected for induction into the Central States Communication Association Hall of Fame.  The honor was given at the association’s awards luncheon in Kansas City on April 5, 2013. The award honored Bill’s leadership in the association and discipline, especially his groundbreaking work in Instructional Communication at the University of Nebraska.  Bill Seiler came to the UNL in 1972, marking his 41st year on the faculty.  He was Chair of the Communication Studies Department for 21 years before returning to the faculty in 2011.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rob Portman and When "Them" is Part of "Us"

Originally posted on by Jordan Soliz:
Recently, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) publicly came out in favor of gay-marriage—a reversal of his previously long-held position on this issue. Portman explained that it was in talks with his gay son and thinking about his happiness and rights that led to this change. Prior to discussions with his son and reflections on his belief, we can safely assume that Sen. Portman knew that a significant portion of Americans were denied what Portman described as the opportunity “to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years.” Yet, knowing this was not enough to change his mind on the issue. Rather, it was not until he was able to see the effects of this position on someone he knew intimately that Portman came to the conclusion that forced the change in his stance on marriage equality.  In one sense, this is nothing new. Scholars across many disciplines have devoted significant research on how intergroup contact (i.e., interactions with individuals of different social groups) can change and, often, improve attitudes toward that group. This line of research has included research on intergroup contact and attitudes toward gay men and lesbians (see here, for example). Whereas much of this research focuses on contact between strangers or non-intimate others, the circumstances surrounding Portman’s change in attitudes represents a unique context for attitude change and contact with people representing different social groups--the context of family.

Families have and continue to be far more diverse than typically thought of in terms of diversity in ethnic, religious, political, and sexual identity (as well as many other identities) within the family.  Yet, we still continue to view families as groups of individuals with the same values, attitudes, beliefs, and identities. Unfortunately, little research and practice has focused on families as a site of contact with individuals form different groups. Yet, there are great possibilities in viewing the family in this manner.  Can  interactions with family member with different religious beliefs influence interfaith attitudes? How are attitudes toward aging shaped or changed by relationships with grandparents? Can views on issues related to ethnicity shift because of interethnic family relationships? In short, what are the potential benefits (and consequences) when “them” is actually one of “us?” As demonstrated in the case of Sen. Portman, attitudes can change not just toward the individual but also toward the group as a whole. However, this is not always the case. Perhaps family members accept each other simply because they are family. But, still see no dramatic change in more general attitudes toward the group. Or, unfortunately but by no means uncommon, family relationships may be detrimentally changed due to the recognition of different ethnic, religious, sexual, and many other identities that individuals simply cannot overcome. We know, for instance, that the Portman case is not representative of all families and parent-child relationships. In short, we should view families as both a “significant site for development and transformation of intergroup attitudes.” Under the right circumstances and through more personalized interactions, families hold great promise for improving intergroup relationships as they are a "more intimate group where discourse and dialogue can exist perhaps more easily than other contexts” (Rittenour & Soliz, 2012 in the Handbook of Intergroup Communication).