Dr. Jay Leighter
Dept of Communication Studies
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
I joined the Department of Communication Studies in the Fall of 2006. I teach courses in cultural communication, communication practices, group communication, deliberation and communication design. I am also the Director of the Sustainability Studies Program.
The following questions serve as the impetus for my research, teaching and participation in community life: 1) How are moments for speaking culturally influenced? 2) How do people make decisions about the community in which they live? And 3) In instances of planned intervention for social betterment (e.g., design, public health intervention, deliberative democracy and community decision-making, social justice), what needs to be known, culturally and communicatively, about the community who will be affected by the intervention?
Trying to answer these questions has mostly meant I study local public and political discourse and try to understand how culture and communication intersect in and influence the settings and scenes in which such communication takes place. Three recent projects illustrate my interests. The first is in collaboration with UNMC public health researchers. The goal of the study is to articulate native Winnebago residents' ways of speaking and dwelling that influence the capacity for public health intervention on the issue of obesity. The second, funded by the Kettering Foundation, is an extension of the UNMC project and asks questions about how the Winnebago community makes decisions, deliberatively and/or democratically but from a cultural communication perspective, about public health issues related to food. The third, funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and in partnership with the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Rural Futures Institute, is a three-community collaboration in which we are to designing, implementing and evaluating communication strategies for addressing sustainability problem-opportunities. In Broken Bow, in partnership with WasteCap Nebraska, we are working with community leaders to reduce landfill material in the city’s waste stream. In Minden, we are examining energy consumption and policy to improve efficiency and create economic opportunities for the residents. In Lincoln, we are working with the Parks and Recreation Department to facilitate the implementation of park management design and practices to implement “Prairie in the Parks.”
My research has appeared in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Western Journal of Communication, International Journal of Participation and Human Communication Research.
To review my scholarship, teaching, and service, please see my vita.