Erica Ciszek has been awarded a research grant from the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society.

Graduate student Erica Ciszek is earning national recognition for her work exploring the effects of social justice public relations campaigns on the communities they serve.

Ciszek, a doctoral candidate at the SOJC, has been awarded a research grant from the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society at Villanova University.

The WFI, which is founded on the principle that the study and practice of communication is inherently connected to issues of ethics and social justice, voted unanimously to support Ciszek’s project in its entirety.

The $6,500 award will fund her explorations of LGBT teens’ perceptions of “It Gets Better Project” and what impact those campaigns have on their experiences as queer youth.

In conceptualizing her research on anti-bullying campaigns, Ciszek noticed that there was a lack of evaluation of the of the broader social implications of those public relations campaigns.

“PR and advertising are often used and taught in relation to corporate and business driven goals, and we often lose sight of the social justice implications in those fields,” Ciszek said.

“What’s remarkable about Erica’s research is that it’s both conceptually groundbreaking and yet very applied,” said Pat Curtin, Endowed Chair in Public Relations. “She’s charting the path in how activists working with marginalized groups fit into the larger arena of public relation theory, but she’s also working to make a real difference in the lives of youth.”