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Tenured Associate Professor Position

Tenured Associate Professor Position

Communication Policy and the Information Needs of Communities

The School of Communication at American University, Washington, D.C., is seeking a leading scholar for a tenured Associate Professor position beginning August 2011. We are seeking scholars who examine the connections between communication policy and the information needs of communities including the development and diffusion of new technology; commercial and non-profit news and citizen media; and deliberation, participation, learning, and problem-solving. The candidate should have a Ph.D. in Communication or a related field with a track record of nationally recognized and externally funded research. The candidate will teach a 2-2 course load and contribute to a new doctoral program, scheduled to launch Fall 2011 pending university approval. (More details below).

Exceptional junior faculty candidates are also encouraged to apply. Salary is competitive and dependent upon qualifications and experience.

Submit application letter, vitae, and names, addresses and telephone numbers of three references to Dr. Matthew Nisbet, Chair, Search Committee, School of Communication, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, MGC #300, Washington, D.C. 20016-8017. Email inquiries to: jweber@american.edu. Review of applications begins Sept. 1, 2010 until position is filled.

For more about the School of Communication, please visit www.american.edu/soc. American University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to a diverse faculty, staff and student body. Applications from women and minorities are particularly invited.

Proposed Doctor of Philosophy in Communication
School of Communication, American University

Technological innovation and industry realignment are quickly altering the news, entertainment, advertising, and public relations industries. These changes have far-reaching impact on politics, government, business, the environment, health, the workplace, and almost all other aspects of contemporary society. They create extraordinary challenges and opportunities for communication professionals and scholars.

Journalism, for example, is undergoing a remarkable crisis and rebirth as blogs, cell phones, and other digital media transform an entire industry. Whether these new forms of discourse will preserve the essential values of a democratic society remains unclear. Government agencies, nonprofit institutions, and media companies are engaged in major debates over a host of interrelated public policy issues – including intellectual property, privacy, media ownership, and network neutrality – whose outcome will determine the nature of the emerging digital media environment. Meanwhile, digital media also are reshaping many aspects of civil society, public discourse, and the democratic process, fostering new forms of civic engagement and political activism. Every major institution in our society – from newspapers to nonprofit organizations to businesses to government – is developing new strategies to navigate the rapidly changing media landscape successfully.

The School of Communication has developed a new doctoral program in Communication to address these major challenges, questions, and trends. Pending final university approval, the first entering class of 5 fully-funded Doctoral students is scheduled to begin Fall 2011. The application deadline will be January 2011.

Designed thematically around the intersections of media, technology, and democracy, the program will:

  • Address the cultural, technological, economic, and policy forces shaping the media system;
  • Incorporate cross-cutting theoretical approaches and research methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, to analyze the complex interactions among various players, including news media, entertainment media, digital communications, nonprofit organizations, government, and business;
  • Foster scholarship that builds new theory and knowledge, and enhances the ability of institutions, social groups, and professionals to apply that knowledge to undertake salient political and social challenges; and
  • Emphasize the role of new media in civil society and democracy, a theme consistent with the core public service mission of American University.

In addition, the program is designed to serve as a national model for adapting to the recognized challenges facing doctoral education today. These include:

  • Improving student completion rates and reducing the typical time to degree in our field from 4-6 years (after a 2 year MA) to 3 years;
  • Preparing students for positions in academia, but also identifying, preparing, and mentoring students for non-academic career paths in government, industry, and/or the nonprofit community;
  • Educating graduates to be effective scholar-teachers through a formal teaching seminar and classroom mentoring by a senior faculty member; and,
  • Providing an 11-month student learning and research experience that includes formal course work, participation in research groups, one-on-one mentoring, and student collaboration and peer support.

Overview and Thematic Concentrations

The program will offer an interdisciplinary course of study rooted in the Communication field, while drawing from the diverse intellectual resources across the graduate curricula at American University. Students will take core and required courses offered within the School of Communication that have been designed specifically to equip our graduate students with knowledge and expertise in the major theories and methodologies of the field. Each student will work closely with a faculty advisor to create an individualized program of electives. These will include communication classes, as well as courses from other units on campus, organized around the student’s choice of the following thematic concentrations.

Media, Public Issues, and Engagement. This concentration focuses on use of the media and technology for public life, civil society, and for addressing social problems. Areas of interest include: the role of media and technology in evolution of citizen attitudes, preferences, knowledge, and behavior; media and technology as resources for social change, empowering citizens, social movements, and advocacy coalitions; and the function of the media both in shaping and reflecting policy agendas and decisions. Students in this concentration examine the ethics, social context, and limits of different models for public engagement, including issues related to citizen participation, persuasion, and coercion. Research and applications span subject areas and sub-fields such as media interactions with science, health, the environment, elections and advocacy campaigns, children and the media, foreign policy, the economy, and social policy. Students are trained in advanced research methods including public opinion and media content research, formative and evaluative research of campaigns, and organizational strategy.

Media Industries and Institutions. The emphasis in this concentration is on the social, economic, political, and technological characteristics of media industry structure and practice. Students in this area investigate the complex interrelationships among nonprofit organizations, news media, government, and business. Research and applications include: the role of digital technologies and public policy in civic participation and in evolving relationships among media content producers and their audiences; social and political implications of changing business models; structures of public media; media industry’s impact on issues of technology, responsibility, and social equity in areas such as personal freedom, diversity, government transparency, social surveillance, privacy, trade, and corporate responsibility. Students are trained in advanced research methods including comparative and historical analysis, quantitative analysis, case study approaches, ethnography, and interviewing.

Media, Technology, and Culture. This concentration features the application of critical theories from the humanities and social sciences to examine the construction of media expression in emerging digital culture, and to create and analyze new forms of media as tools for public life and civil society. Scholarship may combine theoretical approaches from philosophy, history, sociology, film studies, and cultural studies to address a wide spectrum of issues, including: the role of communications media in the construction of identity, stereotypes, and perception; social, economic, and cultural norms of emerging digital media; changing creative practices and their social and policy implications; the interplay of democratic processes and technological change; as well as the significance of media in public ritual, social control, and propaganda. Students are encouraged to combine media theory with production practices in the fields of journalism, documentary film, and social media.

A Media Research Center

Closely coordinated with the PhD program will be a media research center that serves as a hub for fundraising and project generation, with a particular focus on applied research that addresses contemporary communications issues of public importance. The center will initiate and develop externally funded research projects that reflect the three core thematic areas of the PhD program focusing on public interest issues, the scholarly and professional activities of affiliated faculty and their collaborations with students, and the research and dissertation projects of students.

In addition to this primary research, the media research center will serve as a public forum for research and debate about contemporary media issues and trends, engaging in a variety of efforts, including:

  • A highly visible series of public events and papers that provide insightful, academically-focused, but publicly accessible information to policymakers and opinion leaders;
  • Ongoing outreach and cultivation of contacts within key press and media institutions;
  • Periodic releases of studies and reports designed to maximize media coverage;
  • Convening key stakeholders, including NGOs, corporations, and government agencies involved in cross-cutting issues related to new media;
  • Continuing education workshops for communications professionals and others in the worlds of nonprofit, business, and government who need to keep abreast of the rapid changes in the digital media environment.