Public Interest Communications
Summer Institute

Join us for the Public Interest Communications Summer Institute
for public interest scholars and practitioners!

June 22-24, 2022 | Howard University | Washington, D.C.

Click here to view the program.

About the Summer Institute


An opportunity to learn, share and collaborate in defining and building the emerging academic field of public interest communications (PIC) – research-based strategic communications designed to effect positive social change. Sit down with colleagues from journalism, public relations, strategic communications and other fields as we grow this diverse, inclusive and accessible field together.

Through hands-on workshops, round-table discussions and presentations by leaders in the field, we’ll collaboratively work to better understand and define the field for research and pedagogy. The institute will result in practical outcomes, as we’ll create syllabi and class frameworks, define standards and courses for undergraduate and graduate-level PIC curricula, share research, build connections and more.



Public interest communications is needed now more than ever, and university programs are looking for ways to innovate in these unprecedented times. Equipping a new generation of students representing an array of cultures and voices with public interest communications and research skills will allow them to effect positive social change in the world.


Scholars, practitioners and others who study and inform the field. Whether you’re just curious about public interest communications or have taught or done research in the area, this institute is for you!


Syllabi tailored for you. Course materials. Innovative research ideas. New friends and collaborators. Great memories of your trip to Washington, D.C.



The Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library
Howard University, Washington, D.C.

An online option will also be available. 


June 22-24, 2022


This event is free to attendees.


We have secured a block of rooms at the Cambria Hotel Washington DC Convention Center, 899 O St. NW, for the nights of June 22 and 23, with checkout on June 24. The hotel is about a mile from Howard University, where the institute will be held.

Use this link to book your room. The special room rate for attendees is $269 a night. Breakfast is included. If you would like to extend your stay before or after the event, book your room through the link provided and then email the Director of Sales to extend your stay:

Book now before the block fills up!

Wednesday, June 22 
5:30 - 8:30 p.m.Welcome! Have a casual dinner at the hotel and meet new colleagues.
Thursday, June 23
8:30 a.m.Breakfast snacks, coffee and mingling
9 - 9:30 a.m. Welcome to the Public Interest Communications Summer Institute!
9:30 - 11 a.m.What is public interest communications? What are key frameworks? Whose voices are missing from the field?

Explore these questions in an all-hands convening and team idea generation sessions. We’ll capture our ideas in a Wiki that will grow throughout the event and continue to serve as a resource well after the institute ends.
11:30 a.m. - 12:40 p.m. Group explorations – Round A

For educators: What does a robust public interest communications curriculum look like? How can you weave public interest communications into your journalism, public relations, marketing or other syllabi? Whether you want to leave with a syllabus in hand or you just want to gather ideas, we’ll crowdsource syllabi, lessons, activities assignments and other resources. Part 1 of 2.

For practitioners: What does the public interest communications field need that universities and colleges should address? What kind of skills are sought in graduates? What problems arise? Engage in a robust conversation to answer these and other questions.
12:45 - 1:45 p.m.Lunch provided at Howard University
2 - 3:10 p.m.Group Explorations - Round B

Option #1: Explaining public interest communications to your administration: how these skills will help students succeed after they graduate.

Option #2: Bringing practitioners and educators together: How can we connect the classroom to the community to have a larger impact?
3:15 - 4 p.m.Reconvene and share ideas
4 - 5 p.m.Guided exploration

Option #1: Experiences from the field: Building public interest communications around the country. We’ll hear from panelists who have helped build the field in unique ways.

Option #2: For educators, continue hands-on curricula development. Part 2 of 2.
5 - 7 p.m.Relax and explore the neighborhood. 
7 - 9 p.m.Dinner and keynote

Friday, June 24
8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. The day will feature activities that bridge the divide between practitioners and researchers, as well as a wrap-up of how we continue to build the field.


Please contact Angela Bradbery,, Andrea Otáñez, or Gina Baleria,

Event organized by faculty and researchers from Appalachian State University, Auburn University, Howard University, Sonoma State University, the University of Houston, the University of Florida, University of Massachusetts Boston, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at Tyler, the University of Washington, West Texas A&M University and West Virginia University. 


Thank you to Betsy Karel for her generous support of this event and of public interest communications education and practice.