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Cronkite School partners with Grambling State University to research emergency management resources at HBCUs


Exterior view of The Cronkite School building in downtown Phoenix.

The Cronkite School, in partnership with the Department of Mass Communication at Grambling State University, is a recipient of a FEMA grant. FEMA grants support critical recovery initiatives, innovative research and many other programs, and are the principal funding mechanism FEMA uses to commit and award federal funding to eligible state, local, tribal, territorial, certain private nonprofits, individuals and institutions of higher learning.

March 02, 2023

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, in partnership with the Department of Mass Communication at Grambling State University, is a recipient of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to assess emergency management resources and needs at the nation’s 103 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The research grant, awarded by FEMA’s National Training and Education Division/Higher Education Program, examines real-world challenges resulting in recommendations and solutions to complex problems.

“This baseline research will set the stage for creating a multidisciplinary Joint Information Center: Media & Strategy Lab. It links the assets of ASU, GSU and their partners that are dedicated to cutting-edge digital media training, execution and analysis,” said Cronkite Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr., who has a special investment in this project, given his own background as a dual HBCU graduate from Norfolk State University and Hampton University. “Building relationships with HBCUs is a strategic priority for the Cronkite School, to strengthen our enterprise of educating communicators that fully represent our communities and our society.”

At Cronkite, the project is guided by Cronkite Assistant Dean Dawn Gilpin and strategic communication faculty members Fran Matera and Juan Mundel. At Grambling, the project is directed by Ceeon Quiett Smith, chair of the Department of Mass Communication and Cronkite’s first African American PhD recipient in 2017. Matera served as Smith’s dissertation director.

“It is very exciting that the research that began seven years ago investigating JICS and emergency response communication at Cronkite has developed into an opportunity for GSU and ASU, supported by FEMA, to develop an innovative crisis communication system, with HBCUs at the center designed to provide a voice for and from rural and urban communities,” said Smith. “This is indeed a unique opportunity to create transformative educational content and build a sustainable partnership among HBCUs, ASU and FEMA.”

The JICMS Lab is projected to launch this summer.

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