Faculty Projects

Research conducted by the renowned faculty in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication focuses on addressing society's most pressing global communication issues of our time

Our school is home to some of the nation's top scholars in the study of Interpersonal, Organizational, and Intercultural Communication, Rhetoric, Performance Studies, Health Communication, Strategic Communication and New Media. 

Alleviating Poverty

The top-down international development model used by donors, development agencies, and policymakers need rethinking.  Not only does it create aid dependence in communities, it often hinders the goal of sustainable development.

So contends ASU Professor Uttaran Dutta. Dutta feels that locally grown solutions represent a better alternative to foster meaningful growth for the world’s poor.

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Gender Inequity in Sport

Worldwide, more girls than ever before are participating in organized sport. As a result, they see immediate positive effects on their self-esteem and body image and have reduced risks of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, depression and eating disorders. 

Yet despite these benefits, fewer girls participate in sports than their male peers. The reasons are varied, according to Professor Alaina Zanin.

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Dating in the Digital Age

Professor Liesel Sharabi is well known for her cutting-edge research on the role technology plays in how people communicate in relationships. 

In addition to publishing in numerous academic journals, she authors a blog called ‘Dating in the Digital Age’ for Psychology Today. 

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Health Communication

Experts are concerned that conflicting and confusing messages about wearing masks are providing people with a green light to interpret government guidelines at their own discretion.

“Conflicting government messages have only exacerbated the widespread confusion about this worldwide pandemic,” said Arizona State University Professor Bradley Adame, who studies crisis communication.

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Cancer Research

Hugh Downs School Professor of Practice Pauline Davies provided a team of ASU students working at the Arizona Cancer Evolution Center (ACE) an opportunity to explain science to young children at a Science Fair in Chandler, AZ.

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Research suggests that about 40 percent of our well-being and happiness is within our control, something we can adapt through our actions and the way we behave,” said Sarah Tracy, professor of organizational communication and qualitative methodology. 

“About 50 percent is genetic," she says.

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Drug and Conflict Intervention

In recognition of the need to curb drug use and violence against adolescents, the president of the National Scouting Association of Nicaragua signed a partnership agreement with Dale se REAL, an Arizona State University program that teaches young people practical ways to handle situations involving drugs and conflict.

The project is led by Professor Jonathan Pettigrew. It has received funding since 2013 from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, a division of the U.S. State Department.

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Civil Dialogue

People often misunderstand the term and think civility is about manners and politeness, according to Jennifer Linde, a Hugh Downs School senior lecturer who began teaching Civil Dialogue in 2004.

“One could be very mannered and polite and still be uncivil,” Linde said. “It’s more about respect. If you respect another person, and you respect their right to have an opinion other than yours, then politeness and manners probably follow. You can be passionate about your beliefs, but you cannot criticize someone for thinking differently.”

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Persuasive Communication

ASU has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research, a division of the United States Department of the Navy. The project will examine thousands of mass media and social media postings in the Baltic States — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — to help detect if Russia is planning a military invasion there.  

Directing the research for the grant is Professor Steve Corman, director of the Center for Strategic Communication at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

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Hugh Downs School Colloquiums

Periodically the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication holds colloquiums, where faculty, students and staff are able to learn about the consequential research and creative activities of members of our community.

At the most recent colloquium, in January 2023, Associate Professor Uttaran Dutta and Doctoral Candidate Angela Labador both presented their recent work.  Professor Dutta presented his sabbatical research in South Asia, and Angela Labador presented a portion of her job talk.  

The benefits of an HDSHC colloquium are many. It is an opportunity to (a) share and learn about innovative, current research within our school, (b) build relationships and community, (c) foster interdisciplinary research collaboration, (d) gain a current understanding of our school's research interests for external promotion and recruitment, and (e) support graduate student learning and career building. 

Associate Professor Uttaran Dutta

Graduate student Angela Labador