Public Interest Communications Summer Institute About

About the Public Interest Communications Summer Institute

Public interest communications – research-based strategic communications for positive social change – 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 better position them to effect positive social change in the world and ensure they can adapt to an ever-shifting communications job market.

Few institutions offer public interest communications courses; we aim to change that. We helped launched the Public Interest Communications Educators Network to bring together academics and practitioners who want to grow the field. The network organizes an annual Public Interest Communications Summer Institute, which brings together faculty, graduate students, researchers, administrators and practitioners who to learn, share and explore. The institute offers participants valuable skills, networking opportunities and new friendships. Whether you are well-versed in strategic communications for social change or new to the field, this institute is for you!

Brief history

We held our inaugural Public Interest Communications Summer Institute at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in June 2022. About 100 faculty, researchers, graduate students and practitioners met in-person and online to learn, share and collaborate in defining and building the field. Attendees came from across the country, including Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Missouri, Michigan, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Washington state, Wisconsin, Kentucky, New York and Washington D.C. Online attendees hailed from as far away as Argentina, Germany and Ghana.

In 2023, we continued our work, bringing attendees together at the University of Houston. We explored the intersection of public interest communications and activism, learned about public interest technology, explored best practices in community engaged scholarship, crowdsourced ways to bridge the researcher-practitioner divide and workshopped syllabi.

We’ll be in Denver, Colo., May 28-30, 2024. See the program and register here.

Logistical, financial and technical support for the Summer Institute is provided by University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) faculty and staff, the UFCJC online graduate program, and the College’s Center for Public Interest Communications and Public Relations Department. The college thanks Betsy Karel as well for her generous support of this event and of public interest communications education and practice.

Learn more about public interest communications.