2018 Call for Grant Proposals

The Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State's Donald P. Bellisario 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 research on "fake news" and one for research on a broad range of ethics topics.

The Center will award the 2018 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.

'Fake News' Call for Grant Proposals

“Fake news” has become the focus of significant debate in contemporary political and public discourses. The notion of “fake news” has taken on new meanings in the context of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the range of its effects is unknown.

Companies are struggling with operating in an environment with a lack of integrity, where the truth is stretched more than ever. How do communicators participate in that environment without sacrificing their moral or ethical standards? How does one persuade people when experts and facts don’t carry much weight?

The Page Center seeks grant proposals to contribute to the scholarly and public understanding of the “fake news” phenomenon and its implications for public communication. The Center is welcoming proposals that focus empirically and/or critically on any issues of relevance to this core theme. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

► Empirical examinations of the impact of “fake news” on audiences

► Historical perspectives on “fake news” and related phenomena

► Critical analyses of “fake news” and relevant cultures, institutions and practices

► Implications for corporate communication and reputation management

► Descriptive analyses, including (but not limited to) content analytical and social network approaches

► Case studies about the impact of "fake news" on organizations and the PR profession 

► The economics of "fake news"

► Philosophical, political, ethical, legal, moral and regulatory perspectives

► Cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary treatments are encouraged

► How do organizations contribute to the environment of "fake news," and can their work help address it?

Final deliverable for all funded projects will be a book chapter. The book is intended to become an authoritative reference of the current state of thought on “fake news” for academics, policymakers, media and public relations professionals, media educators and interested members of the public at large.

Click here for guidelines on submitting your proposal.

Open Call for Grant Proposals

In addition to the special call for "fake news" research, 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:

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Communication (Of particular interest in this area is research on "corporate purpose" and how it influences or contributes to CSR.)

Digital and Social Media Communication Ethics

Sustainability and Environmental Communication

Stakeholder Engagement

Refugee Communication

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.

Click here for guidelines on submitting your proposal.

Deadline & Notification

► Application materials must be electronically submitted on or before Jan. 15, 2018 using the Proposal Submission Form.

► Applicants will be notified of the selection committee's decisions on March 15, 2018.

► Contracts for successful grants should be finalized by June 1, 2018.

► Final reports for book chapters on "fake news" will be due Sept. 1, 2018.

► Final reports for the 'open call' will be due July 1, 2019.


Questions about the "fake news" call can be directed to George Anghelcev at george.anghelcev@northwestern.edu.

Questions about the open call can be directed to Elaine Files at efs2@psu.edu or 814-863-6307.

Ready to Apply for a Legacy Scholar Grant?

Submit a Proposal