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This month in Baltimore, 15 Northeastern students will present scholarly work developed in Communication Studies courses at the James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference (USC), held concurrently with the 114th meeting of the Eastern Communication Association (ECA), the oldest professional communication association in the United States.

Read more below about the presentations and students’ thoughts on participating in the conference.

Incitement in the Modern Age

Giulia Pugliese
Professor: Dale Herbeck

Incitement to imminent lawless action is one of the few exceptions to the freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment. The foundational case of incitement in the modern age is Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), which established 3 tests in determining whether speech is incitement, all three of which must be fulfilled in order to convict on incitement.

These tests have some serious flaws and should be updated. The update would render a four-part test, which would convict upon incitement if: 1) Lawless action was advocated by the speaker, 2) The occurrence of lawless action was foreseeable by the speaker, 3) The lawless action advocated was imminent, and 4) the context of the speech must support that it was incitement to imminent lawless action.

Next, this new test is applied to Trump’s speech on January 6th, 2020. The implication of the new Brandenburg test is a more balanced way of protecting freedom of speech while also protecting the institutions of democracy.

Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy via the Four Listening Styles

Alma Al-Bader, Amelia Carr, and Ella George Stapleton
Professor: Steve Granelli

This presentation analyzes Grey’s Anatomy episode ”Wishin’ and Hopin’” through the lenses of the four listening styles. Focusing on healthcare communication, we dissect the moments in which each of these listening styles are used. Healthcare communication differs much from both relational and interpersonal communication, and the project is an exploration of how ethical communication plays a role in listening, and vice versa.

We Interrupt This Program: Attributional Errors and Ethics in WandaVision

Kaitlin Kerl, Ty Orlando, Casey Torbik
Professor: Steve Granelli

For our brains to interpret stimuli and establish causal effects to the behaviors we witness, attributions must be formed. Because this process occurs unconsciously, and often without an abundance of information, errors within the attributions we form are almost guaranteed- two of the most prevalent being overattribution and the fundamental attribution error.

The 2021 Marvel series WandaVision highlights these concepts, as several characters commit attributional errors while analyzing the behavior of a single character, Wanda Maximoff. An analysis of WandaVision conveys to audiences that we must refrain from allowing our initial biases to form limited judgements and dictate our future communicative efforts.

Sunset is Not for Sale: Celebrity and Spectacle as Distorted Reflections
Livia Lemgruber

An analysis of why content surrounding (luxury) real estate is so popular at this moment in time.Open Door, a series launched by Architectural Digest, features short to mid length episodes in which a well-known celebrity offers a personal tour of their home. Netflix series Selling Sunset offers us a particularly spectacular branch of the reality genre, filled with the traditional drama but coated in plastic glamor and impossibly luxurious settings.

Open Door showcases the modern celebrity’s appeal to approachability, and Selling Sunset rejects that in favor of a phantasmagorical escapism. The success of both Open Door and Selling Sunset reflects audiences’ changing needs and mindsets created by a mixture of economic downturn and a rapidly changing world of media and spectacle.

Dora The Border Dweller

Julianna Halasz,  Isabella Willette, Olivia Oestreicher
Professor: Steve Granelli

The concepts of intercultural communication, border dwelling by socialization, and collectivism are all represented in children’s educational adventure show Dora the Explorer. Dora shows her audience how to accept differences regarding language and culture by teaching and demonstrating the normalcy of things that some children haven’t seen yet. In our paper and poster, we delve into these topics as we noticed Dora the Explorer does too.

An Investigation on Instagram Use Due to COVID and Its Effect on College Students’ Mental Health

Clara Barsoum,  Mariana Casellas Perez, Skylar Kerr
Professor: Larissa Doroshenko

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many to turn to social media platforms for an escape. However, as many previous studies have shown, social media usage is linked to negative mental health. We were prompted to investigate whether there truly was a rise in social media usage (specifically Instagram) due to the pandemic and whether this had a perceived impact on mental health (in terms of anxiety, depression, and loneliness) in college students.To do this we conducted an online survey that asked questions regarding respondents’ perceived and actual social media usage, Instagram usage, and mental health pre- and post-COVID. The survey had respondents (N = 133) ranging from ages 18-25 that attended various colleges across North America. We then analyzed these responses through Paired Sample T tests, Independent Sample T tests, Pearson Correlation tests, and One-Way ANOVA tests. We found there to be an increase in overall social media usage pre- vs post-COVID in college students and that COVID impacted respondents’ mental health but there was an inability to establish an increase in Instagram usage as the cause.

Community & Police Relations in the United States: A study of public perceptions and community-oriented policing strategies

Kimberly Frances Rosell
Professor: Heidi Kevoe-Feldman

Police and community relations have turned into a nationwide crisis that police departments and their respective communities must address. Community and police tensions have left the United States in a divided, and the solutions lie in collaborating and rebuilding trust. This paper addresses the communication gaps that exist between the police, community leaders, and community members. An analysis of the interviews featured in the “Empathy Towards All” Documentary provides data points for how the topic of community and police relations should be brought back into the public sphere, paving the way forward towards implementing collaborative community policing strategies and addressing this nationwide problem at the community level.