Free webinar about communications for a cause features alumnus, faculty member

July 21, 2016

A discussion about how cause communications efforts can benefit by utilizing social science and tapping research from the academic community will be conducted July 27 as part of a free webinar featuring a Penn State alumnus and faculty member.

The session, “The Art of Using Social Science to Communicate for a Cause,” will be led by Bob McKinnon, president of GALEWiLL Design and a 1990 Penn State graduate with a degree in advertising/public relations. McKinnon, author of “Moving Up: The Truth About Getting Ahead in America,” will address how he engaged with academics in designing his project on inequality and moderate a broader discussion about cause communications and social science.

The session will also feature Distinguished Professor Mary Beth Oliver, a member of the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies and co-director of the Media Effects Laboratory, housed in the College of Communications. Rachel Lise Ruttan, of Northwestern University, will round out the panel for the session that is being coordinated with The Communications Network, which includes foundation and nonprofit communications professionals.

More information and registration directions for the free hourlong webinar -- open to those in communications fields, higher education and the social sciences -- may be found online

According to its outline, the webinar will address how social sciences are transforming people’s understanding about how and why others engage with their world and the issues facing society. Participants will learn:

  • what information social science provides about how to engage people on issues ranging from criminal justice to inequality and opportunity;
  • how to use social science to improve communications and program work;
  • what the various ways are in which academic research can be applied to other work; and
  • how best to engage with the academic community to discover more effective ways to communicate about other topics.

McKinnon is the founder and president of GALEWiLL Design, a company that designs social change through programming, communications, advocacy and action. He has worked on issues ranging from childhood obesity to climate change, partnering with change makers within the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Geographic, and others to help millions of Americans overcome obstacles on their way to a healthier and happier life.

Oliver specializes in media and psychology, focusing on both the psychological effects of media and on viewers’ attraction to or enjoyment of media content. Her work focuses on media and social cognition, and on media and emotion. Her research interests include media entertainment, media and stereotyping, and positive media psychology.

  • Headshot of Mary Beth Oliver

    Mary Beth Oliver

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated July 21, 2016