Faculty Research

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Danish Ministry of Innovation and Higher Education

Dr. Pauline Hope Cheong has been awarded a two-year grant as Co-Principal Investigator from the Danish Business Academy and Danish Ministry of Innovation and Higher Education to examine the socio-cultural uses of communication technologies in the classroom, the changing dynamics of student 'distraction' and professorial authority in the USA and Denmark, and multiple aspects of data gathering in the USA and Denmark as well as international dissemination for impact. Cheong is also senior research associate at the Center for Intercultural New Media Research, a global network of 203 scholars in 30 countries representing 197 universities worldwide.

“Toward Narrative Disruptors and Inductors: Mapping the Narrative Comprehension Network and its Persuasive Effects”

In 2012, the Center for Strategic Communication was awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) a $6.1 million dollar research grant to study the neurobiology of narrative comprehension, validate narrative theories and explore the connection between narrative and persuasion. This groundbreaking research study will employ multi-modal neuroimaging, combining the temporal resolution of EEG with the spatial resolution of fMRI. The project seeks to validate narrative theories that to date have rested on interpretive approaches, rather than empirical, neurophysiological study. In so doing, the project aims to discover the neural network(s) involved in narrative comprehension and persuasion, and to come to a further understanding of how elements of existing narrative theories can induce or disrupt narrative understanding by the presence or absence of those structural components of narrative. Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Steven Corman, Dr. Angela Trethewey, and Dr. Anthony Roberto.

“Identifying Terrorist Narratives and Counter-Narratives: Embedding Story Analysis in Expeditionary Units,”

The Consortium of Strategic Communication in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication was awarded a $1.6 million renewable grant from the Office of Naval Research. “Identifying Terrorist Narratives and Counter-Narratives has significantly increased our understanding of the threat posed by terrorist narratives among contested populations and provided the models and tools that allow for the development of effective counter-measures,” wrote Capt. Dylan Schmorrow, deputy director of the Human Performance, Training and BioSystems Research Directorate, in notifying team leader Steven Corman, Herberger Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The project is based on empirical research on extremist texts and statements with analyses and models, said Corman. “The research aims to create a database of Islamist narratives while revealing how these narratives are used to influence populations in areas such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia and North Africa,” Corman said. “People from the U.S. often lack training and knowledge of the culture they reside in while overseas. This database will be useful for practical applications in the field.”

The project focuses on how such extremists use rhetoric and narratives to instill hostility toward enemies, recruit new members, and incite action. Others on the research team include ASU faculty members Angela Trethewey, H.L. “Bud” Goodall, Daniel Bernardi and Pauline Hope Cheong.

Their research was selected for the recognition because it “addresses a problem that is very important to our HSCB users, is innovative in its research and technical execution, and even though not yet complete is already having impact within our user community,” said Department of Defense spokeswoman Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan. This work “addresses a problem important to the Department of Defense and potentially others. Dr. Corman and his team are helping to build an understanding of the communication frameworks (narratives) that the extremist movements use to motivate behavior,” Morgan said.

Defending Against the Army of the Future: A Study of Self-Organizing Systems

Dr. Steven Corman and Dr. Angela Trethewey, co-Principal Investigators, have been awarded a grant from the U. S. Department of Defense for $867,000. Dr. Corman and Dr. Trethewey, in conjunction with The Contractor (The Rendon Group), will conduct an exploratory study of this relatively new phenomenon, beginning by convening a workshop of subject matter experts to examine examples of self-organizing systems. The wide scale proliferation and use of personal communication devices, coupled with the Internet, has resulted in the phenomena of like-minded individuals being able to locate, organize and motivate one another in support of a cause or in pursuit of a set of actions. This phenomenon, called “self-organizing systems,” occurs on a scale so large and in time so compressed that it could change the way we work, collaborate and compete; in short, it is changing civilization. A self-organizing system’s power and influence lies in its size and geographic distribution; its ability to time-shift; the sense of group identification and its impact on human behavior; the availability of ubiquitous communications to exploit an event and/or communicate with one another without regard for national, legal or physical barriers; and its ability to leverage the Internet to promote a cause and recruit others. Terrorist groups, as well as benign politically-driven groups, have proven that self-organizing systems are important to the modern day discourse of ideas and are capable of uniting a movement which could provide the foundation for future non-state actors or armies. Such groups realize that using technology to facilitate self-organization in human networks can give rise to a contained but widely distributed system that is difficult to identify, influence or counter. Understanding and utilizing the potential of self-organization will help DOD embrace the dynamic warfare environment of today and better predict how to fight the armies of the future.

Center is Awarded Grant to Study Minority Health and Health Disparities

Principal Investigator and Center Director, Dr. Flavio F. Marsiglia (School of Social Work) and Research Team with Dr. Olga Idriss Davis, Co-Principal Investigator, Associate Professor, Arizona State University, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, received a five-year renewable $7,178,038 grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities establishing the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) as a National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence to explore the complex factors influencing minority health and health disparities among the racial and ethnic minorities in the Southwest. Other co-Principal Investigators from Arizona State University include: Dr. Eddie Brown (American Indian Studies), Dr. Felipe Castro (Psychology), Dr. Mary Gillmore (Director, School of Social Work) and Dr. Stephen Kulis (School of Sociology and Family Dynamics).

U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug Free Schools Program

Linda C. Lederman, Professor of Human Communication and Dean of Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, is the Principal Investigator on U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, $450,000. CFDA #84.184H for 2007-2009 entitled First You Have to Get Their Attention: Population Level Programming as the First Step in Reducing Dangerous Drinking and Changing the Culture of the University to Support Healthy Choices. This is Dean Lederman's sixth grant from he U.S. Department of Education. The Project Director is Karen Moses, Director of ASU's Wellness and Health Prevention Program at ASU. Among the grant team working with Lederman and Moses on the project are two Hugh Downs School PhD students, Aaron Hess, Research Associate, and Lisa Menegator, Research Assistant.