I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production at Temple University. My research explores theory and practice related to 1) communication for development and social change (CSC) and 2) communication about development (CAD) (a useful distinction first made by Bella Mody and Karin Wilkins). Specifically: 1) What is the role of communication and media in global and domestic development? and 2) How does U.S. communication about development, crises, and conflicts affect the American public’s personal and political responses to global events?
CSC: My CSC work focuses on project evaluations. I believe that evaluations are most valuable when they prioritize why certain interventions succeed (or fail) rather than an assessment of whether projects have succeeded or to what degree. Focusing on when and why projects succeed helps build development and social change theory and can be used to inform policy decisions regarding effective and sustainable social change work.
In order to understand the role of communication and media in social change, I have partnered with practitioners conducting communication-for-development work on the ground. By leading and consulting on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) projects, I have helped practitioners improve their own interventions through strategic use of communication theory. I have also had the opportunity to directly test and examine communication’s impact on the ground. My most recent project was an evaluation of the Half the Sky Movement’s interventions for gender empowerment in India and Kenya, conducted with the Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and under the auspices of USAID.
CAD: Extending from the idea that development policy has room for improvement, my CAD work seeks to encourage ethical and fruitful communication about development that empowers U.S. citizens to make informed decisions about what role they want to play, both individually and as a nation, in development projects. This work examines how Americans respond to communication about global development, crises, and conflicts. While many lament Americans’ seeming apathy toward distant suffering, I argue that media coverage often deters political engagement by failing to give news audiences a way to effectively engage with the issues. This line of research has resulted in publications in academic journals including Mass Communication and Society and the International Communication Gazette.
I hold a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in Cinema Studies from New York University, and a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University.
More information about my research can be found at www.LaurenKogen.com.