2015 Call for Grant Proposals

The Arthur W. Page Center at the Penn State College of Communications has announced its annual Page and Johnson Legacy Scholar competition for the study of integrity in public communication.

This year, the Center is issuing two calls, one for sustainability communication research and one for research on a broad range of ethical topics. The Center will award grants to support scholars and professionals making important contributions to knowledge, practice, or public understanding of ethics and responsibility in public communication.

The intent of the program is to foster a modern understanding and application of the Page Principles and the Johnson & Johnson Credo by supporting innovative research, educational, or public service projects in a wide variety of academic disciplines and professional fields.

Sustainability Communication

The 2015 Arthur W. Page Center Legacy Scholars Grants special call is organized around the Center’s new Sustainability Communication Initiative (SCI) Supported by the Page Center and other grant-funding organizations, the SCI backs teaching, service, research and creative activity exploring how the concept of “sustainability” is constructed, how the communication of this concept has emerged and evolved, and how this communicative activity has impacted individuals, organizations and society.

  • The defining of “sustainability”
  • The emergence of sustainability as a concept and communicative practice
  • The evolution of sustainability as a concept and communicative practice
  • Describing, explaining and predicting the impact of sustainability communications on individuals, organizations and society
  • Proposals that focus on topics that are part of or are closely related to sustainability (science, environmental, energy, renewables, etc.) are also welcome.

This year’s special call involves a large-scale national (United States) survey-experiment that addresses the broad topics defined above.

National Survey-Experiment

Although a number of surveys address the idea of sustainability, most of these are provided by market research companies and focus on the corporate perspective (McKinsey&Company, GlobeScan, etc.). Do Well Do Good conducted a sustainability survey from the consumer perspective (last conducted in 2011), while other sustainability surveys are designed to solicit feedback from specific organizations on how they should address the issue, or are designed to evaluate the level of compliance with sustainability standards (LEED, etc.) within an industry or economic sector.

The Page Center therefore aims to conduct a large-scale national survey to gauge public beliefs, knowledge, attitudes and opinions about sustainability. We invite communication scholars to join the effort to design this survey and to submit specific survey-experiment modules to further test and refine sustainability theory. Participants will be randomly assigned to these survey-experiment modules in blocks of 1,000 and will be further randomly assigned to experimental conditions as designed by successful submitters.

  • Successful submitters will receive 1,000 Qualtircs panel participants (the equivalent of $5,000) and a $1,000 honorarium for administrative expenses.
  • Proposals will be evaluated in terms of creativity and originality (overall design and stimulus materials) in testing of specific sustainability communication theory.

The first section of the survey (to be taken by all participants) will gather basic demographic and psychographic data (gender, age, political identity, worldviews, etc.) as well as pre-existing beliefs, knowledge and attitudes about sustainability. The second section of the survey will comprise the survey-experiment modules designed by successful submitters. Input will be welcome on the design of the first section of the survey (sustainability attitude measures, etc.). [Designs that exclude questions about sustainability prior to the experimental manipulation (to avoid priming participants, for example) will be considered separately.]

The descriptive data from the first section of the survey will be published by the Page Center (summary statistics only); successful submitters will have exclusive rights to the data from their survey-experiment modules. Funded researchers will commit to writing a blog post about the results of their research for publication on the Page Center website. It is also hoped that the results of these survey-experiments will be presented as a conference panel in 2016.

Questions about this special call should be directed to Dr. Lee Ahern at laa182@psu.edu or (814) 865-8314.

Open Call for Grant Proposals

In addition to the special call for the national panel on sustainability communication, the Center is issuing a call for grant proposals on general topics of ethical communication. Of specific interest are proposals that align with prior initiatives of the Center and grant proposals that build on prior research supported by the Center.

These topics include, but are not limited to:

Proposals on other topics will be considered as well, including how company credos and codes of ethics affect corporate behavior; the role of public relations in fostering corporate responsibility; curriculum development in and pedagogical approaches to ethics in public relations; and other areas of Page's or Johnson's legacy, including political communication, public opinion formation and attitude change, history of public relations, health communication, and international broadcasting.

Questions about the Sustainability Communications calls should be directed to Dr. Lee Ahern at laa182@psu.edu or (814) 865-8314. Questions about the open call should be directed to Elaine File, efs2@psu.edu or (814) 863-6307.