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Policy and Public Engagement

Researchers in this area examine policy and public engagement along two dimensions. The first is the communication challenge of designing and implementing policy. For example, how can communities engage their members in the generation of policies relevant to their needs and concerns? What role can communication researchers and practitioners play in this process? How does strategic communication influence public perception of and support for particular policies? How, and to what effect, are scientific, social, health, environmental, and technological issues framed in media and public discourse? The second is the study of communication policy itself. For example, how is public communication governed by formal and informal rules across nations, platforms, and other technologies? On what assumptions about democracy, culture, and the social good are these policies based? How do publics respond to these policies, and how do new policies shape the broader information landscape?

Recent projects in this area focus on:

  • Assessing capacity for public engagement through citizen science
  • Establishing a framework for training science communicators
  • Involving people from low-SES backgrounds in research on implications of health and environmental policy
  • Understanding communication dimensions of science controversies
  • Testing theory-informed message strategies to promote evidence-based public policies
  • Working with educators to design and evaluate educational interventions to promote digital citizenship skills among youth
  • Understanding how privacy, algorithms, artificial intelligence influences democracy and the development of personal, social, political and economic engagement
  • Developing ethical guidelines and practices in higher and public education regarding privacy, algorithms and artificial intelligence
  • Understanding, testing, and auditing digital policy systems that govern online speech and behavior