Hugh Downs School of Human Communication welcomes new faculty member

August 8, 2022

This fall semester, the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University welcomes new tenure-track faculty member Jenna Hanchey as an assistant professor of communication.

Hanchey, who comes to ASU from the University of Nevada, Reno, specializes in decolonial intersections of rhetoric, African communication studies and critical development studies. Portrait of ASU Assistant Professor Jenna Hanchey. Assistant Professor Jenna Hanchey specializes in decolonial intersections of rhetoric, African communication studies and critical development studies. Download Full Image

Here, she shares more about what she hopes to contribute to the Hugh Downs School, what she hopes to impart on her students and what gets her creative juices flowing.

Question: Why did you want to come to ASU and what do you hope to add to the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication (HDSHC)?  

Answer: I’m thrilled to join the faculty at ASU for multiple reasons! For one, my previous program only had an MA program at the graduate level. While I loved the master’s students that I got to work with there, I’m really looking forward to the chance to work with doctoral students here at the HDSHC. The students here are doing cutting-edge interdisciplinary and intersectional work, and I’m excited to be able to support their projects. Their work is indicative of a second reason I’m glad to be at ASU: the opportunities for interdisciplinary research here. As a scholar who cross-cuts multiple fields both within and outside of the discipline, I’m looking forward to doing work that addresses pressing social problems without having to worry about containing them within a predetermined box.

In that vein, I’m hoping to add to emerging conversations around decoloniality and decolonization, African communication studies, fictocriticism, speculative writing and the liberatory imagination.

Q: Why did you become an educator?  

A: I’ve always loved collaborating with others to better understand the world and wanted the chance to cultivate spaces where that can be done in meaningful ways. Honestly, the desire to be a teacher probably started in third grade when I got detention for the first time because I tried to help the person next to me with his spelling test. I didn’t realize that would be labeled “cheating” — I thought it was just helping him to understand!

That memory has stuck with me because it exemplifies how I think of knowledge: not as something that someone “masters” or “has,” like it can be owned, but something we can create together. In my classes, I try to provide a context where we can ask difficult questions about the world, reflect on our experiences and ways of knowing, and make decisions about what we want to keep or leave behind as we move forward.

Q: What led you to your field?  

A: I initially started out in particle physics and became a high school physics teacher. But after teaching in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer for over two years, I came back to the U.S. with a deep discomfort about what I’d just been a part of. Teaching in a school that otherwise wouldn’t have had a physics teacher? OK. Doing women’s empowerment work for Tanzanian high schoolers? Ummm … less OK. I decided to go to grad school for communication because I thought it could help me answer a burning question: What made me think as a young, white Western woman that I had something to teach about empowerment to people in a completely different cultural and environmental context?

One of the major parts of the answer, I discovered, was neocolonialism. Since then, I’ve investigated neocolonialism in aid and development initiatives in Africa, bringing together research in critical/cultural studies, rhetoric, organizational communication and intercultural communication.

Q: What is your current research focus? 

A: I have two big projects on the table at the moment. The first is a book entitled “The Center Cannot Hold: Decolonial Potential in the Collapse of a Tanzanian NGO.” This book examines the relationships between Westerners and Tanzanians at a small, internationally funded NGO in rural Tanzania. In the book I make the argument that two “centers” often assumed to be worth maintaining — Western subjectivities and NGOs — need to be allowed to fall apart in order for decolonial potential to emerge. “The Center Cannot Hold” is forthcoming in fall 2023 from Duke University Press.

My second book project, which I’m currently working on, is tentatively titled “Africanfuturism: Beyond Development.” In it, I turn from critiquing how Western logics of development uphold neocolonial power relations to examining how Africans imagine their own futures beyond and against Western developmental logics. I analyze the vibrant and growing body of Africanfuturist fiction and film to demonstrate how African artists rethink aid, technology, time, environment and the human. I received an NEH Summer Stipend to develop the project in 2022.

Q: What do you want every student to learn?  

A: How to be reflexive. Reflexivity is integral to living in ways that respect our relations to each other and the natural world, and to understanding the way power operates in our lives and those of others. Reflexivity is a continual praxis of understanding how we are conditioned by power, and how that affects the ways we understand and interact in the world. As there’s no getting out of power, reflexivity is never finished. Instead, we must continue to learn to ask difficult questions about our relations, be willing to face the answers we find, and use them to change our thoughts and actions. If I can teach students to think deeply about how they understand the world and act within it, and encourage them to continually make their relations with the world and others more just, I know that they will be prepared to deal with any number of communicative problems in thoughtful and coalitional ways.

Q: What do few people know about you?  

A: In addition to being a professor, I’m an all-around creative. I write speculative fiction, narrate audiobooks, sing, act, paint, take photographs, make wrapped-copper jewelry and experiment with folded-book art. My published speculative fiction and some of my photographs can be found on my website ( If you’re lucky, you can catch me singing at karaoke, but my paintings stay within the bounds of my apartment!

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


ASU psychology center aims to help children and adolescents improve mental health

Clinical Psychology Center now accepting patients from the community

August 8, 2022

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40% increase since 2009. In 2021, those numbers continued to rise, with 44% of high school students reporting experiencing persistent sadness, and 37% reporting experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic. 

“These data echo a cry for help,” Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry in the CDC release. Two adolscents seen from behind skipping toward a sunset, one wearing a backpack that reads "excited about life." In 2021, 44% of high school students report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and 37% reporting experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic, according to the CDC. Photo by Kevin Schmid/Unsplash Download Full Image

The Clinical Psychology Center at Arizona State University is doing something about it. The center is now providing services to help families deal with this crisis and is accepting patients for in-person and telehealth treatment. These individual and family therapy options are designed specifically to help children and adolescents cope and build positive skills for the future. 

Services in the Clinical Psychology Center are provided by doctoral student therapists under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists. The clinic provides a safe and accepting environment and a collaborative experience with active participation from youth and families. Clients work together with the therapist to identify goals in treatment, learn coping skills that could help with the presenting problems, and to practice these skills in between sessions as clients live their life.

Poor mental health in youth and adolescents is associated with negative physical health and behaviors like drug use, risky sexual activity and decision-making, and poorer grades at school. With the added stress of schools in many districts starting right now, it is important to take stock of what can be done to improve youth mental health.

One of the many challenges with dealing with adolescent mental health is that parents are often excluded and communication suffers. The student may isolate themselves, and the parent might not know what to do. The clinic teaches key skills to both the parents and the students in order to remedy this communication breakdown. 

“With low-cost, effective treatments available to address problems that present increased risk for later diagnoses, this is an excellent opportunity for parents to take advantage of our limited openings for evaluations and therapy,” said John Barton, director of the Clinical Psychology Center. 

The center was established in 1959 as an outpatient clinic and training facility for doctoral students in clinical psychology, and its mission is to provide outstanding service to its clients using evidence-based best practices, or treatment methods that have been tested and proven to work.

Therapy is available to children, adolescents and adults for a broad range of problems, including anxiety, depression, family problems, stress, child behavior problems, relationship problems, anger issues, ADHD, sleep disorders and adjustment to chronic health problems. Student therapists will teach strategies from evidence-based treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and parent management training (PMT). Fees are determined on a sliding-scale basis that takes an individual's income and family size into consideration. 

To get started, new clients can start the process by calling 480-965-7296 or by filling out an interest form.

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology