The Crisis Communication Think Tank (CCTT), housed at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is partnering with Pennsylvania State University’s Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication to support collaborative student research. Through the partnership, CCTT’s Crisis Insights & Analytics (CIA) Lab will join with the Page Center’s Graduate Student Lab Group to produce innovative and timely research on topics within the areas of ethics, digital technology and crisis communication. The partnership will support two student-led research projects annually, one by UGA students and the other by Penn State students.
“Organizational leaders and communication professionals are confronted by crisis issues becoming more complex than ever,” said Yan Jin, CCTT director. “Emerging technology has disrupted crisis management across organizational, health and disaster arenas. Effective and ethical crisis communication leadership is more critical than ever.”
“This UGA and Penn State collaboration synergizes the thought leaderships from the CCTT and Page Center, both supported by leaders and experts across academia and industry,” she added. “Together, we will explore digital ethics and leadership integrity as a next-generation crisis communication challenge to be tackled by scholars and practitioners. We look forward to mentoring our cross-institutional student teams, advancing excellence in collaborative research that matters to public communication theory and practice.”
Selected students will be mentored and trained by researchers from both universities. Potential research topics include handling ethical dilemmas involving artificial intelligence (AI), responding to analytic data misuse, AI’s effect on public relations ethics and other crises caused by changing technologies in the industry.
“This partnership inspires important work and delivers practical results for the profession,” said Denise Bortree, Page Center director. “And best yet, it provides a forum of collaboration for our amazing graduate students. We are so happy to join Georgia’s Crisis Communication Think Tank in strengthening graduate work at our universities.”
The projects are expected to lead to conference and publication submissions, a panel discussion at a future conference, and summaries of the research published on the CCTT and Page Center websites. The Page Center and CCTT will host an inaugural project team kick-off meeting in August 2023 at the annual Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference in Washington, D.C.
The CCTT’s CIA Lab is co-directed by Grady College faculty members Yan Jin, C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership, and Bryan Reber, professor emeritus of public relations and former Yarbrough Professor, as well as CCTT practitioner member Kate LaVail, executive vice president of Ketchum.
The Page Center lab is co-directed by Penn State faculty members Denise Bortree, professor of advertising/public relations and associate dean at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, and Holly Overton, associate professor of advertising/public relations and the Page Center’s research director. The Page Center is located in Penn State’s Bellisario College of Communications.
Happening this week, on Thursday, April 13, is the CCTT annual gathering. Crisis communication researchers, practitioners and experts will meet at Grady College to explore current challenges in crisis communication and develop insights that arise from discourse and collaborative research. More information is available on the CCTT website.