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The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Awards $10,000 for Research on Public Interest Communication

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications awarded its $10,000 grand prize in public interest communication to Dr. Troy Campbell, assistant professor of marketing, Lindquist College of Business, University of Oregon and Aaron Kay, professor at The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.  The prize, which celebrates peer reviewed research that informs this growing discipline, was awarded during frank, the premier gathering for social change communicators and movement builders.

Drs. Campbell and Kay were awarded the prized based on their research on “solution aversion” relating to contentious topics such as environmental degradation and climate change. Their model shows that one must address denial that stems not just from basic fear but from complicated psychological motives such as ideology and identity.

Two $1,500 prizes were also awarded.  Dr. Jeff Niederdeppe, associate professor, department of communication, Cornell University, won for research that examines a variety of theory-based message strategies designed to offset resource imbalances in the debate about the pros and cons of regulating the marketing of soda, cigarettes, and prescription painkillers. Dr. Julia Daisy Fraustino, assistant professor of strategic communication at West Virginia University, and Liang Ma, doctoral candidate in communication at the University of Maryland, won for “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse”, research that places a spotlight on defining and evaluating the effectiveness of social change communication strategies surrounding risks and disasters.

The prizes are awarded from the College’s Frank and Betsy Karel Fund for research that contributes to the understanding of the public interest communication field as a unique discipline, offers insight that can improve the effectiveness of public interest communication practice, details a specific public interest communication campaign, explores evaluative measures, documents specific ways in which public interest communication differs from similar disciplines, or provides insight on how to communicate effectively.

The College, which has the nation’s only endowed chair in public interest communication, is developing public interest curriculum at the graduate and undergraduate level, supporting social change communication research and fostering a community of social change communicators and movement builders. The chair, held by Professor Ann Christiano, is endowed by Frank and Betsy Karel.

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