Faculty conduct research on a broad range of topics, with particular strengths in the following areas:

Interdepartmental Collaborations


Cross-Cultural Communication, Ethnography, and Fieldwork

Cross-Cultural Communication looks at how people from diverse cultural backgrounds communicate within a given culture and across different cultures. Ethnography and fieldwork are qualitative methods that generate understandings of culture through observation, interpretation and representation, as well as systematic, empirical investigation. Faculty working in these areas study diverse perspectives and practices that can be symbolic, discursive, historical, institutional, and media-centered. 

Audrey Bennett, Tamar Gordon, Paul Miyamoto, Patricia Search

Interaction Design

Interaction Design explores human-technology interaction and communication practices from humanistic perspectives with the aims of understanding, enriching, and transforming people’s experiences with digital media. Software development and applications, usability studies, interface design, and the use of social media and narrative in community development and networking are among several key interest areas to faculty.

Roger Grice, Lillian Spina-Caza, Patricia Search

Multimodal and Embodied Reading and Viewing

Multimodal and Embodied Reading and Viewing investigates diverse, sensory modalities of communication, such as static and moving visuals and sound, that create complexes of meaning and affect. Embodied reading and viewing examines how the human body shapes our encounters with these multimodal texts and other cultural products and practices. Faculty working in this area employ such methodologies as semiotics, rhetoric, cognitive psychology, and design theory.

Ellen Esrock, Paul Miyamoto, Lee Odell, Patricia Search


The term "rhetoric" broadly describes strategic use of language and other symbol systems. Faculty in the department investigate pedagogical, theoretical, and cultural aspects of rhetorical practice in different historical periods and technological contexts and using different sensory modalities.

Ekaterina Haskins, Barbara Lewis, Lee Odell, Merrill Whitburn, James P. Zappen

Social and Cross-Platform Media

Social and Cross-Platform Media examines material aspects of traditional and new media in multiplatform, mobile environments: community-based networks; digital pedagogy; social television and second screening (e.g., TV and the Internet); the commercialization of media content. Using approaches like cultural studies, faculty consider how a particular medium or message relates to ideology, class, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender, and thereby seek to understand how meaning is generated, promulgated and reproduced through various practices, belief systems and cultural institutions.

Audrey Bennett, June Deery, Ellen Esrock, Ekaterina Haskins, Tamar Gordon, Roger Grice, Lillian Spina-Caza, James P. Zappen

Television and Film Studies

Television and Film Studies includes theoretical, historical, cultural and social approaches to the study and production of television and film, both narrative and documentary.

June Deery, Tamar Gordon, Ekaterina Haskins, Lee Sheldon, Lillian Spina-Caza




Ethnocomputing seeks to understand how culture can play a more effective role in teaching computational thinking to ethnically-underrepresented youth in an effort to attract them to majors and professions in or related to computer science.This research area focuses on the study of designed images as manifestations of both culture and computing principles. It is investigated from interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives including education, communication, social semiotics, graphics, and social science.

Audrey Bennett, Communication and Media

Ron Eglash, Science and Technology Studies

Mukkai Krishnamoorthy, Computer Science


Immersive Environments and Games

An immersive environment is a virtual or mixed-reality interactive space within which users are immersed. Games exist within all media and environments both virtual and physical. Research seeks to expand the development of collaborative experiences in which a range of creative and cultural processes can be explored. Of particular interest in the department and other disciplines is the development of immersive environments and games that incorporate many forms of immersion, including sensory-motor, cognitive, narrative and physical, to increase user engagement and learning.

Lee Sheldon, Communication and Media

Ben Chang, Art

Mei Si, Cognitive Science


Sociocultural Robotics

Sociocultural robotics is a strand of inquiry within communication design that critically investigates the look and feel of robots and how this formal aspect influences how robots function in society.

Audrey Bennett, Communication and Media

Ron Eglash, Science and Technology Studies

Sal Restivo, Science and Technology Studies (retired)