Public Scholarship

As part of their work, the Center for Public Interest Communications team members engage in a range of scholarship activities. They conduct research, publish science-driven frameworks for the social change sector, and regularly give talks and hold trainings for foundations, nonprofits, scientists and activists. They collaborate on projects with colleagues from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and other organizations, such as the United Nations Refugee Agency and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These efforts are designed to help practitioners apply findings from cognitive, behavioral and social science to create and implement effective strategic communications for social change.

Listed below, starting with the most recent, are examples of the work produced as part of the Center’s public scholarship and that have appeared in publications that include Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), Medium and The Conversation.

Please check back regularly for the latest additions to our growing public scholarship collection.


This Untapped Tool Could Help Boost Vaccination Rates

Barrons – Jan. 2022

The recent failure of workplace vaccine mandates in the Supreme Court means we have to look for fresh ideas to get the last third of Americans vaccinated. Here’s a tool no one has tried: activating the millions of Americans who are vaccinated to influence the choices of those who aren’t.


Why Intersectional Stories Are Key to Helping the Communities We Serve
SSIR – September 2021

Telling diverse and inclusive stories for social change that center marginalized communities and build understanding requires that we show the complex ways communities experience systems of inequality.

Finding the Right Messenger for Your Message

SSIR – May 2021

Trusted messengers are important to the success of any advocacy campaign. Here are eight archetypes and four audience contexts to help organizers find the right ones.


How to Build Better Calls to Action
SSIR-Jan. 2020

A well-told story can inspire people to engage with social and environmental issues, but how do nonprofits channel that energy into behaviors that make a difference? Behavioral science can help point the way.


How to Design for Diverse and Gender Inclusive Humanitarian Organizations
Outsmart Gender Bias through Design
Medium–December 2019

In these two articles, Center team members and their partners at the UN Refugee Agency’s Innovation Service describe how behavioral, social and psychological science can help humanitarian organizations create more inclusive workplaces.

As the authors note, findings from academic research can help overcome gender biases that stand in the way of progress toward achieving inclusivity.

Communicating Complexity in the Humanitarian Sector
SSIR–October 2019
In this article, Center team members and their partners at the UN Refugee Agency’s Innovation Service, describe how academic research can be used to help think through the complexity of innovation and provide a pathway to doing it better. As their own experience shows, complex doesn’t have to mean complicated.

How to Use Stories to Bring “Us” and “Them” Together
SSIR–June 2019
To build more inclusive movements, social advocacy organizations and activists need to create stories that can engage both familiar and new communities.

Changing Mindsets, Changing the Rules
YouTube–June 2019
A talk on communicating climate change in the anthropocene delivered in June 2019 at a conference hosted by Partners for a New Economy.

SSIR–March 2019
This podcast of a presentation made at the 2018 Nonprofit Management Institute addresses the question: What should strategic communication in the public and social change sectors look like in a time marked by extreme political polarization and false information? As explored in this podcast, featuring a presentation made at the 2018 Management Institute, science suggests the key may be playing offense, rather than defense.


Special Series on Communicating the Complexity of Human Displacement 

CPIC partnered with the UN Refugee Agency’s Innovation Service (UNHCR) to produce a series of articles in Medium exploring ways science can help improve communication about refugees and humanitarian innovation. Below is the latest addition to the series:

Communicating the Complexity of Displacement in a Changing Climate
March 2019
Displacement is fiercely complex. So is climate change. Explaining how those factors intertwine requires an array of legal and scientific jargon that obscures the suffering experienced by people caught at their intersection. This actionable guide is designed to help those working in the humanitarian sector communicate the complexity of climate change and displacement to inspire action.