Joshua Cunningham is a master’s candidate in the College of Communication and Information with a concentration in Communication Studies. He holds two undergraduate degrees in management from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Joshua has served with AmeriCorps as a firefighter in El Dorado National Forest in Northern California and as the Water Quality Assistant for the Town of Farragut, Tennessee. After graduating from AmeriCorps, he served as a music director, producer, and news reporter for KNOM Radio Mission in Nome, Alaska where he developed his passion for message crafting and communication.
What drew you to the field of Communication Studies?
I strongly believe that every field needs communicators who possess the skills to effectively convey complex messages to the public. Such communicators can be particularly important in helping to form messages surrounding advances made in the STEM fields. I believe I can serve the scientific community and the environmental causes I believe in by crafting concise and impactful messages that catalyze positive behavior change.
Why did you pursue a master’s at UT’s CCI?
My most important personal career goal is that I am helping my fellow man and the natural world every day. In speaking with CCI graduate students before enrolling in the program, it was clear to me that this program offered an experience that would consists of close relationships with my professors as well as my colleagues. We are a family of sorts within CCI and open door policies are par for the course. I have come to love the day-to-day conversations I have with members of our department.
Tell us about your experience as a business and professional communication instructor.
Working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant has been one of the highlights of my time as a student in CCI. I am an instructor for CMST 240: Business and Professional Communication where I teach students foundational communication theory and principles of formal presentations. Every week I get to experience two amazing things: the growth of my students as professional communicators, and the intellect and passion they share with me concerning their respective interests.
What is the focus of your research?
My current research looks at environmental policy through the lenses of risk communication and risk society theory. I believe that by looking at the communication with the public that took place preceding events such as the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, researchers can better help organizations and the public prepare for potential environmental and human risks.
What advice do you have for incoming graduate students?
I recommend that students considering the graduate program carefully review the faculty members’ CVs and research. Although you have the freedom to forge your own research interests as a graduate student, it is particularly helpful to have an idea of how the professionals in your area of interest arrived at their current position and research philosophy.
Prepared by the 2016-2017 CCI Spotlight Task Force