Summer 2023 Newsletter

Goldy chair on Northrop Mall


What an exciting year for the Department of Communication Studies! By recognizing that social justice reflects and encapsulates the core themes of our faculty members' work, we are committed to advancing the understanding and investigations of disparities and public urgencies in our lived environment, focusing on communicative practices in contexts. 

A sudden shift in law, technology, or public crisis can turn our world and worldviews on a dime. For example, responding to the leaked Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health draft decision (which resulted in the Supreme Court officially reversing Roe v. Wade in June 2022), Dr. Emily Winderman and Dr. Atilla Hallsby examined activists' communicative strategies to create more expansive affiliations with reproductive freedom. 

In January 2023, Dr. Allison Brenneise and Dr. David Cram Helwich led departmental discussions to consider how generative AI (i.e., a type of technology that can produce various content, including text and imagery data, such as ChatGPT and Dell-E 2) present opportunities to recalibrate and re-examine the roles of communication in our society and the responsibilities of higher education. 

As we reflect on the meanings and impact of the post-pandemic world, Dr. Ronald Greene explored how the biopolitics of public health and capitalism during the pandemic exposed the social murder of specific types of labor (e.g., "essential" workers in meatpacking plants). This is an exciting time to be a communication expert—we are at the forefront in anticipating and addressing the challenges of our times.

Continuing our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive community, we won the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in Liberal Arts Pedagogies Grant in the Fall 2022 college-wide competition. In the coming year, graduate students and faculty members will lead and collaborate on activities, including conferences and workshops, that celebrate and solidify the complex meanings and visions of social justice. If you are interested in finding ways to support the department, please consider visiting our websiteto help us build a stronger community.

Finally, we want to share that Dr. Mark Pedelty has retired this spring after 24 years of service at the University of Minnesota. His seminar on environmental communication is one of the most popular undergraduate classes in the department. We will miss him dearly. If you wish to contact Dr. Pedelty, he can be reached at

Warm regards,

Elaine Hsieh

Department Chair

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