Doctoral fellowships at Missouri School of Journalism open doors to high-impact research

Luke Capizzo, Amanda Hinnant and Earnest Perry

By Austin Fitzgerald

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Nov. 8, 2022) — As part of the Missouri School of Journalism’s dedication to accessible and affordable education, a number of doctoral fellowships are available for those looking for a high-impact opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree that takes education beyond the classroom.

With full tuition waivers, health insurance and annual stipends of up to $28,000, in addition to further funding available for research and travel, the fellowships support students who want to take advantage of the School’s wide range of research opportunities that intersect with some of the most important issues of the day.

From health communication that centers the needs and experiences of underrepresented communities to science, technology, and crisis messaging that improves public knowledge and battles misinformation, the School of Journalism is on the front lines of impactful research that not only benefits the industry but changes lives for the better, with applications across the strategic communication and news industries.

“If you are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree that allows you to have a real, hands-on impact on the communities we serve, this is the place to do it,” said Earnest Perry, associate dean for graduate studies and research at the School.

Doctoral students at the School benefit from a research-oriented campus at the largest public research institution in Missouri. At the world’s leading school of journalism, founded on the principle of the “Missouri Method” of learning by doing, faculty bring industry experience to their teaching and research roles. The School’s vast alumni network, which spans every state in the U.S. and numerous countries around the world, also provides a valuable source of mentorship and a leg up in the job market no matter where your career takes you.

Below, learn more about just a few of the programs available to those pursuing doctoral research at the School of Journalism:

Health communication

Amanda Hinnant, whose acclaimed research stands at the intersection between the health industry and journalism, said strategic and informed health communication is a key part of promoting public health and addressing inequities in the system.

“From healthcare policy to pandemic protocols to personal and social determinants of health, the topics that pervade the study of health communication are timely and of paramount importance to communities,” Hinnant said. “Health journalists and public health practitioners play a vital role in transmitting and translating that information.”

The School of Journalism’s team of health communication researchers is deeply engaged with topics related to:

  • Improving public health message effectiveness
  • Increasing public interest in medical research
  • Journalistic roles and practices in the face of medical misinformation and health inequity
  • New communication technologies that could enhance health communication
  • Narrative power to aid in comprehension and empathy in health news 
  • Leveraging cultural influences to increase health help-seeking

Risk and crisis communication

Increasingly, the success of an organization in the public eye hinges on how it manages societal and environmental responsibilities under challenging circumstances. Consequently, public relations research at the School of Journalism incorporates a wide swathe of topical subject matter.

“Every organization exists amid a complex ecology of stakeholder needs, other organizational actors, and societal interests, conflicts and shared problems,” said Luke Capizzo, an associate professor who brings nearly a decade of experience in public relations to his work in the field and in the classroom. “Reputation-centered research is just one part of this work.”

Research areas in risk and crisis communication at the School include:

  • Management of communication and action before, during, and after crises
  • Systematic listening practices to better understand organizational and community risks as well as stakeholder needs and challenges
  • Organizational engagement in polarizing social issues, including communication research on climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice, and other critical areas
  • Resilience- and renewal-oriented perspectives on crises, particularly disaster preparation and response
  • Understanding risks and crises at the practitioner, organizational, issue, and societal/global levels

Science communication

The importance of accurate and effective science communication cannot be overstated in an era when challenges facing the climate, public health and the environment are taking center stage across the country and around the world. As misinformation and disinformation continue to threaten the public’s understanding of key issues that impact their lives, research in science communication is making a difference.

“We live in an era of large-scale science-related challenges and rapid advancements in groundbreaking science with major societal implications,” said Assistant Professor Kate Rose, whose work addresses how complex scientific information can be effectively shared with the general public. “Even as we continue to grapple with challenges such as climate change and public health crisis, new scientific developments and technologies are reshaping our society. Effective communication about this progress is critical to the future of science and to ensuring informed decision-making about scientific issues.”

In this program, doctoral students can contribute to the growing field of science communication by exploring research related to:

  • Public understanding and knowledge about science and technology, including scientific misinformation
  • Public attitudes about science and science-related issues
  • The democratization and evolution of science and the scientific process
  • How media, public, scientists, and other stakeholders communicate about science
  • Developing and evaluating science communication efforts and messages

Updated: November 8, 2022

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