About the Program

About the Public Interest Communications Program

Our public interest communications coursework is designed to help students learn how to use strategic, science-based communications to effect positive social change both in the U.S. and around the world. Students learn the core concepts of public interest communications and how to apply them.

Through hands-on work, students learn the basics of being a public interest communicator, including how to identify and reach key audiences; how to develop effective, values-based messaging; how to choose the right messengers; the importance of storytelling; how to use powerful visuals for maximum impact; how to use digital media to achieve communications goals; and how to develop a strategic communications plan. We offer both undergraduate and graduate courses.

In collaboration with faculty at universities across the country, we have begun organizing a Public Interest Communications Summer Institute. The goal is to bring together faculty, researchers, graduate students and practitioners who want to work together to build the field. 

Frank Karel Endowed Chairs

The public interest communications program is directed by Angela Bradbery, B.S. Journalism 1986, the Frank Karel Endowed Chair in Public Interest Communications. Previously to joining CJC in 2020, Bradbery had spent more than 20 years with Public Citizen, one of the most effective public interest organizations in the country, and since 2006 had been Director of Communications. Her responsibilities included developing and implementing communication strategies at the national, state and local levels and leading communication planning and implementation for coalitions of allied public interest organizations.

Bradbery succeeded Ann Searight Christiano, who served as the inaugural chair since 2010 and built the first program in the country dedicated to public interest communications. Christiano’s achievements during her term include:

About Frank Karel

As a leader who spent his 30-year career using communication for social change, and as vice president for communications for the Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations, Frank Karel, B.S. Journalism 1961, recognized the critical importance of strategic communication in taking on the world’s most important challenges. He also had a deep and abiding love for the College of Journalism and Communications, a place he referred to as his “Almie Mamie.”

Karel and his wife Betsy’s gift to the college — the Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications — is a lasting testament to his leadership. The position was created for a practitioner, and one of its most unique aspects is that no one can hold the chair for more than 10 years.

Hundreds of students have had the opportunity to choose career paths that have led them into public interest communications positions. As one student said, “I never had the opportunity to meet Frank Karel, but he changed my life.”