Friday, October 30, 2015

Dawn O. Braithwaite wins the Ferris Award

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and Chair of Communication Studies, will receive the James Ferris Award for Contributions to Communication and Disability Studies from the National Communication Association Disability Issues Caucus (2015).  Dawn and co-honoree Teresa Thompson (University of Dayton) are two of the earliest disability communication researchers in the communication discipline and published the Handbook of Communication and People with Disabilities: Research and Application (2000Erlbaum). 

The selection committee “recognized their important contributions to the field.” The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association in Las Vegas in November.

National Communication Association Disability Issues Caucus supports NCA’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity by promoting accessibility to all NCA activities for all interested parties, especially through coordinating efforts with NCA leadership to meet both the letter and spirit of ADA laws. The caucus also provides a forum for scholarship on disability and communication that includes the critical area of Disability Studies.

Congratulations to two NCA Award Winners!

Dr. Kathy Krone and her co-author Dr. Erika Kirby have won the National Communication Association’s Charles H. Woolbert Research Award.

The Charles H. Woolbert Research Award is named for one the discipline’s early founders. This is an association-level award whose winners are chosen by the NCA Research Board, celebrating research that has stood the test of time.  The Woolbert Award is in recognition of their research:

Kirby, E., & Krone, K. (2002). "The policy exists but you can't really use it": Communication and the structuration of work-family policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30, 50-77.

Drs. Kirby and Krone will receive the award at NCA’s awards ceremony on Saturday November 21, at the association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Erika Kirby is a Professor of Communication at Creighton University and earned her PhD in Communication Studies at UNL in 2000.  Kathy Krone is a Professor of Communication Studies and been a member of our faculty since 1991.

Based in Washington D. C. with 8,000 members, the National Communication Association is the discipline’s largest and oldest national association.

Dr. Bill Seiler has won the National Communication Association’s NCA’s Wallace A. Bacon Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award. This is an association-level award whose winners are chosen by a committee of those specializing in instructional communication and former award winners.

Dr. Seiler will receive the award at NCA’s awards ceremony on Saturday November 21, at the association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Dr. Bill Seiler is a Professor of Communication Studies and been a member of our faculty since 1972.  He was Chair of Communication Studies for 21 years, ending his term in 2010. 

Dr. Bill Seiler is the embodiment of what is best about teacher-scholars in our discipline. His entrepreneurial spirit about teaching and his substantial contributions to basic course and instructional communication, his dedication to his undergraduate and graduate students, his generous mentoring across the discipline, his service contributions and collegiality all make Bill the embodiment of what the Wallace Bacon Award is all about.

Based in Washington D. C. with 8,000 members, the National Communication Association is the discipline’s largest and oldest national association.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dr. Carly Woods at Popular Knowledge, Public Stage Conference

She discussed, “A Tale of Two Lucys: Remembering Oberlin’s Early Orators.” She examined the dynamics of race and gender in the story of the first known U.S. college women's debating society at Oberlin College. She argued that public memory about the club should be expanded beyond well-known reformer Lucy Stone to include Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, an early member and the first African American woman to complete a college course of study. This interdisciplinary conference focused on how popular, public interactions shaped the character of knowledge in the long nineteenth century (roughly 1790–1910), as the way people thought and learned together was transformed by speakers and listeners, writers and readers.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Congrats to Breshears & Braithwaite on GLBTQ Communication Studies division Monograph of the Year Award!

Diana Breshears of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies have won the National Communication Association’s GLBTQ Communication Studies division Monograph of the Year award for 2015. Their article, "Discursive Struggles Animating Individuals' Talk About Their Parents' Coming Out as Lesbian and Gay," was published in the Journal of Family Communication in 2014. Diana Breshears earned her PhD in 2011 from the Department of Communication Studies at UNL.

Two quotes from the nominating letters underline the significance of this research:

"I remember the exact day I picked up Garner’s (2005) book Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Telling It Like It Is and read it through in one sitting. As a lesbian parent and communication scholar I found her book to be groundbreaking. She opened up a world so few had ever documented and told the story through the eyes of the children. What particularly struck me was her discussion of how these children negotiate their parent’s sexual identity and allowed me to better understand the family dynamics my two children would face all their lives. Ten years later we have Breshears and Braithwaite’s research and discover, still, how little we know about the discursive worlds of children raised by gay and lesbian parents. This research stands alongside Garner’s as one of the few to position itself from the children’s perspective; more to the point it examines not only how these children negotiate their parents’ sexual orientation but also the dynamic of their parents’ coming out and how it impacts their own personal and familial identity work."

"Breshears and Braithwaite (2014) help redress the limited…understandings to date of gay- and lesbian-parented families in family communication. In doing so, the piece shifts the conversation about coming out away from the individual, focusing instead on how parental coming out impacts the whole family system, with a decided focus on the children in the family. When focusing on the children’s perspectives, the piece moves away from collecting children’s perspectives by asking parents to report on their children and instead asks the children directly to detail their lived experiences."

Congrats to Dr. Breshears and Dr. Braithwaite (pictured below at Dr. Breshears' doctoral hooding!) 

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.