Advocacy and narratives lead Page Center’s 2019 scholar grants announcement

April 1, 2019 • Jonathan McVerry

2019 Call for Proposals Announced

The Arthur W. Page Center announced funding for two important areas within the public communications field for its 2019 call for research proposals – advocacy communications and narratives in public communications. Page scholars were selected to create research projects that will build scholarly and public understanding of the two topics.

The funding is a part of the Center’s Page/Legacy Scholar Grant program. The call was announced last September, and the Center received overwhelming interest in this year’s topics. From a large pool of proposals, more than 30 scholars were selected from universities in the United States, Australia and Turkey.

“Our scholar grants have always been the cornerstone of the Center’s mission to promote ethics and integrity in public communication,” said Denise Bortree, Center director and associate professor of advertising-public relations at Penn State. “For over a decade and a half, we have funded a diverse group of researchers who have tackled relevant and timely topics.”

The funded projects have the potential to help organizations innovate the way they engage in advocacy.

Managed by Colleen Connolly-Ahern, associate professor of advertising-public relations at Penn State, the advocacy projects focus on corporate social responsibility, youth activism, advocacy for marginalized populations, among other topics. Areas of public health and social justice, specifically those focused on behavior change and social mobilization, were given priority.

"I was especially gratified to see so many top communications scholars focusing on issues of health and social justice in their research,” Connolly-Ahern said. “We were able to fund a methodologically diverse range of projects, all of which have the good of the public at their core.”

Connolly-Ahern, a Page Center senior research fellow, said the funded projects have the potential to help organizations innovate the way they engage in advocacy.

The narrative call, managed by Fuyuan Shen, professor of advertising-public relations at Penn State, and Heidi Hatfield Edwards, professor of mass communications at Florida Institute of Technology, accepted research proposals on the effects, implications and cultural uses of narratives in public communications. Among the funded projects, topics include environmental messaging, digital media, crisis communication, women in politics and more.

“Our call generated great responses among scholars from around the world,” Shen said. “It has been exciting to see the number of high quality proposals on a range of under-explored topics. We look forward to working with our new Page scholars in putting together a high-quality volume on narratives in public communication.”

Each year, the Center invites scholars to propose research ideas that direct the field toward answers to difficult questions affecting the communications industry today. Past topics include “fake news,” digital media, CSR, immigration and sustainability. The 2019 scholars will have a year to complete their projects. Results are expected by July 1, 2020.

Since its 2004 founding, the Page Center has become an international leader in research on ethics and integrity in public communication. Over the past 15 years, the Center has funded more than 200 scholars and awarded more than $870,000 in research funding.

Funded ‘advocacy communications’ research projects

How and when should corporations engage in social issues: Examining corporations' perceived responsibility for social advocacy
Lucinda Austin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Barbara Gaither, Elon University

Youth activism and media relations: Advocacy and issues management in the wake of the Parkland High School shooting
Erica Ciszek, University of Texas at Austin

The role of media discourse and NGO advocacy for marginalized populations: Fostering social change and integration
Daniela Dimitrova, Iowa State University and Emel Ozdora Aksak, Bilkent University

Antecedents and outcomes of corporate political advocacy among consumers
Linda Hon and Leping You, University of Florida

Playing for mental health and social change: Evaluation of an interactive game for mental health promotion among college students
Soyoon Kim and Queenie Jo-Yun Li, University of Miami

Construction and validation of new scales of advocacy and activism
Brooke McKeever, Robert McKeever and Minhee Choi, University of South Carolina

Funded ‘narrative communications’ research projects

Effects of narrative video political ads on voter attitudes
Jeff Conlin and Guolan Yang, Pennsylvania State University

Are repeated stories a good strategy? Effects of textual, numeric, and visual messages in digital political communication
Juliana Fernandes and Weiting Tao, University of Miami and Yi Grace Ji. Virginia Commonwealth University

Tell me about the #fluvaccine: Using narratives to encourage vaccination
Jeanine Guidry, Virginia Commonwealth University; Lucinda Austin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Nicole O'Donnell and Jay Adams, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Ioana Coman, Texas Tech University

What makes social movement campaigns go viral on social media? The role of narrative features and cultural influences
Yan Jin and Xuerong Lu, University of Georgia; and Yen-I Lee, Washington State University

Developing the female candidate's story: An ethnographic case study of narrative development in women's political training program
Stephanie Madden, Penn State and Abby Levenshus, Butler University

Constructing the cowboy and Indian alliance metanarrative: Rhetorical micro-mobilizations in strategic environmental communication
Derek Moscato, Western Washington University

Science stories over time: The longitudinal effects of consuming science narratives via social media
Jessica Myrick, Penn State

Correcting health misinformation through narratives: Investigating the interplay of correction message, mechanism and time
Weirui Wang, Florida International University and Yan Huang, Southern Methodist University

The re-enchantment of narratives and authentic storytelling in disaster risk communications: A case study of 'Resilient Queensland Stories'
Jenny Zhengye Hou, Queensland University of Technology