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School of Communication Faculty

Human Rights-Related Faculty Profiles

Patricia Aufderheide: Professor Aufderheide is a professor of Film and Media Arts in the School of Communication and director of the Center for Social Media. She is an expert in social-issue documentary film, public media and intellectual property/fair use.  Her books include Documentary: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press), and Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press). She has been a Fulbright and John Simon Guggenheim fellow and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival. Professor Aufderheide has received numerous journalism and scholarly awards, including, in 2010, the Research as an Agent of Change from the International Communication Association and career achievement awards; in 2008, from the International Digital Media and Arts Association; and in 2006, from the International Documentary Association.
Courses Taught: COMM 511 History for Documentary; COMM 512 Social Documentary.

W. Joseph Campbell Professor Campbell’s assignments in his award-winning reporting career took him across North America to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Professor Campbell is the author of four books, including The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and The Clash of Paradigms (2006), which tells the story of a decisive year in American journalism. His fifth book, Getting It Wrong, was published in 2010 by University of California Press. Professor Campbell has taught 16 different courses at AU, including Media Myth and Power, Seminar in Public Affairs, Censorship and Media, and Foreign Policy and the Press.
Courses Taught: COMM 546 Foreign Policy and the Press; COMM 710 Seminar in Public Affairs.

Angie Chuang: Professor Chuang brings to the classroom her experience developing one of the first regional newspaper race and ethnicity issues beats. In spring 2008, she developed a new class called Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting. Professor Chuang joined SOC in 2007 after a 13-year career as a reporter at The Oregonian, The Hartford Courant and The Los Angeles Times. She has won many national and regional awards, including one from the Columbia University School of Journalism Workshop on Journalism, Race & Ethnicity. She oversees an SOC partnership with New America Media, the nation’s largest collaborative for ethnic media.
Courses Taught: COMM 270 How the News Media Shaped History; COMM 535 Race, Ethnic, and Community Reporting.

Amy Eisman:  Professor Eisman oversees SOC’s basic writing classes and the weekend graduate journalism programs. She teaches reporting and writing for convergent media. Professor Eisman was an editor with Gannett for 17 years, first as a cover story editor at USA TODAY and later as Executive Editor of USA WEEKEND. Professor Eisman was also a managing editor at AOL and a Fulbright lecturer in Moscow. Today she trains newsrooms on Web content and writing. She co-authored, with Larry Gillick, online training modules for Gannett about breaking news online, interactivity and database journalism. With Professor Wendell Cochran, she co-wrote a module about tools for citizen journalists for Knight Citizen News Network. She has held workshops at the, Freedom Forum, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague and Moscow.
Courses Taught: COMM 200 Writing for Mass Communication; COMM 522 Writing for Convergent Media.

Larry Engel: Professor Engel is an Emmy® award-winning environmental filmmaker with more than 30 years of experience spanning all seven continents. He combines many skills including producing, writing, directing and cinematography. He is an Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and a Consulting Producer with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Professor Engel has pioneered collaborative teaching within the Film and Media Arts division and team-teaching with faculty from CAS and SIS. His productions include PBS's The Human Spark, an award-winning three-hour mini-series hosted by Alan Alda; Potato Heads: Keepers of the Crop, a short granted film about food security and sovereignty; and Bangladesh: Water World for “Now on PBS,” which exposes the real-world challenges faced by today’s climate change refugees.
Courses Taught: Comm 486/686 Advanced Documentary Techniques; Comm 596 Practice of Environmentalism: Galapagos, and other production and history/theory-related courses; Comm 701 Seminar in Film Theory and Practice.

Declan Fahy: Professor Fahy’s research focuses on science reporting, science communication, global journalism and the mass media representation of famous scientists. Professor Fahy has also researched media coverage of the Irish workplace tobacco ban, opinion and commentary journalism, financial journalism and the reporting of the European Union.  His peer-reviewed research appears in the scholarly journals Science Communication, Health Promotion Practice, Journalism Studies, Public Understanding of Science and Irish Communications Review.  In his career as a journalist, he has worked for the Irish Times, Irish Daily Mirror and Longford Leader newspapers. Between 2006 and 2008, he was the coordinator of the European Science Communication Network (ESConet) that trained scientists from across Europe in communication and public engagement skills.
Courses Taught:  Comm 535 Special Topics in News Media: Health, Science & Environ Rprt; Comm 688 Media Writing

Bill Gentile Professor Gentile is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker at American University, where he brings 30 years of field experience and professional contacts to the next generation of communicators. In 2008, Professor Gentile traveled with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province. The film he produced and shot, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War, was broadcast by NOW on PBS. Later in the year, he shot and produced a story on America’s nursing shortage, also broadcast on PBS.
Courses Taught: COMM 523 Intermediate Photography; COMM 544 Foreign Correspondence; COMM 596 Backpack Documentary.

Larry Kirkman:  Dean Kirkman has had a long career as a social media producer and executive working with nonprofit organizations, labor unions and child advocates on the rights of communication, children and labor. He has worked to define and promote policies to support public service media – through research, publishing and convening; helped nonprofit organizations use effective techniques and tools of communication for advocacy; and created knowledge networks on the Internet, as test-beds for new forms of journalism, social interaction, and education. As Dean of the School of Communication since 2001, he has established centers for innovation in public media, including the Center for Social Media, the Investigative Reporting Workshop, J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism and the Center for Environmental Filmmaking. He has produced public television documentaries, including the America Works series, and played a leading role in national public service campaigns, including Connect for Kids with the Advertising Council and Union Yes for the AFL-CIO. He launched the US Center of and chaired its global network from 2002-2006. He edited a series of media guides, Strategic Communications for Nonprofits, and produced an international conference on Advocacy Video.

Charles Lewis:  Professor Lewis is a national investigative journalist, a former ABC News and CBS News 60 Minutes producer, best-selling author and founder or co-founder of three nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Public Integrity and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Under his leadership, the Center published about 300 investigative reports, including 14 books, from 1989 through 2004, and won more than 30 national journalism honors. He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1998 and won the PEN-USA First Amendment Award in 2004. He has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton University and a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University. Courses Taught: COMM 502 In Depth Journalism; COMM 535 International Investigative Reporting. Brigid Maher:  Professor Maher is a filmmaker and multimedia designer who heads the New Media concentration in SOC’s Film and Media Arts Division. Her scholarly writing focuses on the interplay between traditional film and new media theories. Her award-winning narrative and documentary films have shown in festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Her documentary, Veiled Voices, focuses on the phenomenon of Muslim women religious leaders in Islam. Professor Maher won a Fulbright Senior Award to teach broadcast media in Lebanon in the spring of 2005.
Courses Taught: COMM 296 Gendered Struggles in the Middle East; COMM 438 Production Practicum; COMM 454 Motion Graphics & Effects; COMM 516 Motion Graphics & Effects II; COMM 638 Techniques & Aesthetics Editing; COMM 650 Digital Imaging.

Kathryn Montgomery Professor Montgomery was President of the nonprofit Center for Media Education from 1991-2003. Her leadership as a policy advocate during the 1990s led to passage of the first federal legislation to protect children's privacy on the Internet—the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Professor Montgomery is a contributing scholar to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation initiative on Digital Media and Learning and author of Generation Digital: Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet.
Courses Taught: COMM 640 Principles of Strategic Communication; COMM 644 Public Communication Writing.

Matthew Nisbet:  Professor Nisbet is a social scientist who studies strategic communication in policy-making and public affairs, focusing on controversies surrounding science, the environment, and public health. He is the author of more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Press/Politics and Science Communication. His scholarship has been cited more than 300 times in the peer-reviewed literature and in more than 100 books. Professor Nisbet’s research on climate change communication is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where he is a Health Policy Investigator. He has also worked as a consultant to the National Academies, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation and other leading organizations. 
Courses Taught: COMM 100 Understanding Media; COMM 735 Communication Theory.

Chris Palmer Professor Palmer is a wildlife filmmaker who joined the SOC faculty in 2004. Since then, he has founded its Center for Environmental Filmmaking; launched Classroom in the Wild, which takes students to the Florida Everglades, Alaska and other wilderness areas to make films; and initiated collaborations with Maryland Public Television, which broadcasts SOC student films as part of its EcoViews series about the Chesapeake Bay, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gives students an opportunity to participate in many of its media projects. Professor Palmer has produced hundreds of hours of films for television and the global network of IMAX theaters. He and his colleagues have won numerous awards, including two Emmys, an Oscar nomination and the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the International Wildlife Film Festival. His book, Shooting in the Wild, was published in April 2010 by Sierra Club Books.
Courses Taught: COMM 080 Classroom in the Wild: Florida; COMM 516 Producing Environmental & Wildlife Films; COMM 550 Financing & Marketing Independent Projects.

Gemma Puglisi:  Professor Puglisi is an award-winning media strategist and producer with more than 25 years of experience. During her career, she has worked in broadcast news, public relations, entertainment and the financial sector, where she was a market reporter/media relations specialist for Nasdaq. Professor Puglisi is often sought as an expert on crisis public relations, media issues, and women in communications. In 2006, she received the Order of the Star and was knighted by the Republic of Italy for her contributions to education and promoting Italian language and culture.
Courses Taught:  COMM 301 Public Relations; COMM 437 Public Relations Portfolio; COMM 644 Public Communications Writing.

Rick Rockwell: Professor Rockwell is an associate professor of broadcast journalism and the co-author of the book Media Power in Central America, which won an American Library Association Choice magazine award in 2004 as one of the best academic books of the year. Professor Rockwell’s expertise in Latin America stems from his journalistic work in Central America and Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to his book, he has authored or co-authored 19 book chapters, government reports and peer-reviewed journal articles on Latin America, including a chapter in the book Global Journalism: Topical Issues and Media Systems.
Courses Taught:  COMM 100 Understanding Media; COMM 385 Broadcast Journalism; COMM 632 Television Field Reporting.

Nina Shapiro-Perl:  Professor Shapiro-Perl brings to the classroom 25 years of producing documentary films for labor unions and other social justice organizations. An anthropologist by training, she has been developing the Community Voice Project – a cross-disciplinary community storytelling initiative to document the stories of unseen and unheard Washington. Since 2008, anthropology and film students in her courses have produced short films for 18 nonprofit social justice organizations. An award-winning filmmaker, Professor Shapiro-Perl is currently in post-production on her film Through the Eye of the Needle, the story of Holocaust survivor and artist Esther Nisenthal Krinitz. 
Courses Taught: COMM 516/ANTH 544 Documentary Storytelling; COMM 516/ANTH 544 Social Documentary: Illuminating Community Stories.

Christopher Simpson:  Professor Simpson is particularly interested in how “human rights” has been exploited as a propaganda theme by mass media, governments, and intellectuals both internationally and domestically. His books include Blowback, The Splendid Blond Beast: Money, Law & Genocide in the 20Th Century, Science of Coercion, National Security Directives of the Reagan and Bush Administrations, Universities and Empire, Comfort Women Speak and War Crimes of the Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank. Professor Simpson’s work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. His teaching and research include social theory, sociotechnology, and emerging methods of teaching and research.
Courses Taught: COMM 401 Legal Aspects of Communication; COMM 549 Propaganda and Media; COMM 720 Seminar in Journalism.

Richard Stack:  Professor Stack began researching the interaction of courts and media after his work in the Public Defenders Office revealed the criminal justice system’s frequent mistakes. His first books pioneered litigation communication. His third book —Dead Wrong: Violence, Vengeance & Victims of Capital Punishment—applies theories of public relations to influence opinion about capital punishment. In it Professor Stack reframes the national debate from, “Does the death penalty deter crime?” to “Can we trust government to make irreversible, life-and-death decisions, when it errs so often?”
Courses Taught: COMM 346 Public Relations Case Studies; COMM 640 Principles of Strategic Communication.

Maggie Stogner:  Professor Stogner’s background includes 25 years of experience making award-winning documentary films, including 10 years as a producer and then Senior Producer of National Geographic's highly acclaimed Explorer and Ultimate Explorer programs, as well as pioneering work in digital media at Apple Computer. Today, she designs and produces integrative, multi-dimensional media for world-touring cultural exhibitions including the award-winning Tutankhamun and the Golden Pharaohs narrated by Omar Shariff; Real Pirates: the Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship narrated by Lou Gossett Jr.; Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures narrated by author of The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini; and, Tutankhamun: the Golden King and Great Pharaohs narrated by Harrison Ford. She is an avid mentor of graduate students, two of which won student Academy Awards. 
Courses Taught: COMM-331 Film & Video Production I, COMM-634 Film & Video Production II, COMM-565 Adv Visual Media Portfolio, COMM-596 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Adv Writing Documentary Film.

Rodger Streitmatter A cultural historian who documents the media’s impact on how Americans think and act, Professor Streitmatter has published seven books. His most recent book, published in 2009, is From “Perverts” to “Fab Five” ~ The Media’s Changing Depiction of Gay Men and Lesbians. Professor Streitmatter’s other books include Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in America (1995) and Raising Her Voice: African American Women Journalists Who Changed History (1994).
Courses Taught: COMM 275 Dissident Media; HNRS 302 Media & the American Mind.

John Watson:  Professor Watson is a scholar specializing in the first amendment and journalism ethics. His journal articles include: “An Applied Lesson in Diversity as an Ethical Issue” in The Journalist, Summer 2003; “Defamation by Racial Misidentification: A Legal History of Public Exposure to Hatred and Contempt in the South” in Rutgers Race and Law Review, Summer 2002:  a legal and cultural analysis of how the law of defamation once supported the American racial caste system and later set it aside as legally and morally untenable; and “Publications of a Dangerous Tendency: Press Suppression in the Civil Rights and Gay Rights Movements,” a chapter in News and Sexuality: Media Portraits of Diversity, edited by Laura Castañeda, November 2005. He previously served as a mentor and on-site trainer for the Chips Quinn Scholars Program for college students of color who aspired to become journalists. Professor Watson also taught a seminar on editorial writing for the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Washington College of Law. He was a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy College Journalism Awards, 2001-2006, which “honors the outstanding reporting of the lives and strife of disadvantaged people throughout the world.” 
Courses Taught:  COMM 504 Journalism Ethics; COMM 514 Censorship and the Media; COMM 601 Legal Aspects of Communication.

Rhonda Zaharna: Professor Zaharna specializes in intercultural and international strategic communication, with an emphasis on culture and communication in the Arab and Islamic regions. In addition to teaching strategic communication for nearly 20 years, she has advised on communication projects for multinational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, diplomatic missions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and USAID. She has repeatedly testified before the US Congress and has addressed diplomatic audiences and military personnel in the United States and Europe on cross-cultural communication and public diplomacy. She is author of the forthcoming book, Battles to Bridges: US Strategic Communication & Public Diplomacy after 9/11.
Courses Taught: COMM 539 International Public Relations; COMM 735 Communication Theory.