James W. Carey Urban Communication Grant

The James W. Carey Urban Communication Grant

This grant supports communication research that enhances urban social interaction and civic engagement in an age of global communication. It encourages applied research on the role of human communication in urban environments at a time when media technologies alter the parameters of community of all kinds.

James W. Carey

James W. Carey

James W. Carey noted in A Critical Reader that “I think all education, all scholarship is ultimately an aspect of citizenship.” The form of urbanity and community was an intrinsic part of this theme in the scholarship of Carey. He was concerned with the impact of media technology upon the changing form of the urban domain, the consequence of accelerated change upon human communication and community, and the growing gap between tradition and modernity as suburban sprawl threatens the very nature of urban traditions.

With an award of up to $2,500, this grant facilitates research in progress or in the planning stages. It gives priority to projects that feature innovation and creative approaches to studying the central role of human communication in the transformation of urban cultures and communities. Proposals from developing nations are encouraged.

The winner(s) are announced each year at a special event at the annual ICA Conference. Award winners are expected to attend the ICA conference and are required to report to the UCF on the progress of their research the year following the receipt of the award.

Details on how to submit a nomination application will be announced in February 2020.

Previous Recipients of The James W. Carey Urban Communication Grant


No Award


Germaine Halegoua and Jessa Lingel
University of Kansas and University of Pennsylvania

Germaine Halegoua and Jessa Lingel were awarded the 2017 James W. Carey Urban Communication Grant for their paper “Invisibility and hypervisibility: Failures of imagination in urban broadband networks”. The paper identifies and critiques the imaginations of public connectivity encoded into the design and deployment of two different types of urban broadband networks: dark fiber and LinkNYC. In our analysis of these two case studies, we concentrate on themes of visibility and spectacle as indexes of power and access. Our critique highlights three main points: the need to complicate the invisibility/visibility framework for interrogating media infrastructures; failures of infrastructural imagination as failures of public connection; and the problematic geopolitics of supply-side internet access.

Germaine Halegoua is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas. Her research and writing focuses on the relationships between digital media and place, urban and community informatics, smart cities, and cultural geographies of digital media.

Jessa Lingel is an Assistant Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include information inequalities and technological distributions of power. In her investigation of digital culture, she focuses on the ways that relationships to technology can show us gaps in power or possibilities for social change.


Sarah C. Bishop

Sarah C. Bishop

Sarah C. Bishop
Department of Communication Studies, Baruch College, City University of New York

The grant is awarded to Sarah C. Bishop for (Un)Documented Media Makers and the Search for Connection Online. Bishop’s research considers the interaction of citizenship, media and migration, and she is especially concerned with issues of forced migration and involuntary citizenship.  At Baruch, Bishop teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Intercultural Communication, Privilege and Difference, and Digital Media Culture.


Charles T. Salmon (Nanyang Technological University),  Thanomwong Poorisat (Nanyang Technological University),   Franklin J. Boster (Michigan State University)

The grant is awarded to Charles T. Salmon, Thanomwong Poorisat, and Franklin J. Boster, Michigan State University for their proposal “Public Will and the Problem of Urban Homelessness”. The team’s research project is dedicated to understanding urban social interaction and civic engagement. It incorporates interrelationships among political participation, mobilization and communication action, while contributing to emerging theory. The research is highly fitting of the spirit of the grant’s focus on “communication research that enhances urban social interaction and civic engagement”. The research project will cover urban homelessness, an important social problem not only for the United States, but internationally. This research will greatly enhance understanding of how urban social interaction and civic engagement can contribute to become a force for change. It has tremendous potential to contribute to an understanding of an important global urban problem.


Nancy Chen, Andrea Wenzel, and Nan Zhao
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California

The grant is awarded to Nancy Chen, Andrea Wenzel, and Nan Zhao for a research project designed to lead a new media news platform serving the city of Alhambra (a trilingual, ethnically diverse city in Los Angeles) through a new phase of innovation. The researchers envision that through their proposed work, their innovative local news platform—the Alhambra Source—will help this urban community overcome the linguistic and other cultural barriers that divide its residents and further increase residents’ civic engagement and commitment to the place they call home.

Leyla Nasibova

Leyla Nasibova


Leyla Nasibova, Aalto U (FINLAND)

The James W. Carey Urban Communication Grant Committee is delighted to give this grant to Leyla Nasibova for her proposal “Collaborative Design & Action Framework for Social & Urban Transformation in Cape Town.” The project proposes the use of communication in connecting citizens across economic and racial divides in Cape Town. Nasibova proposes a collaborative project, with the participation of an NGO, an element of strength that this collaboration could support the application of research results. This is an innovative project that takes an established area of planning research (participatory design) into a direction foregrounding communication in the process. It is also a creative approach, especially in its focus on reconciling gaps between tradition and modernity.

Yong Jin Park

Yong Jin Park


Yong Jin Park, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Online News Frame, Deliberation, Engagement.”

Erin D. McClellan

Erin D. McClellan


erin d. mcclellan, Department of Communication at Boise State University, “A Study of Boston’s City Hall Plaza.”


Stephen Ostertag, Department of Sociology at Tulane University


No Award

Yong Jun Shin

Yong Jun Shin


Yong Jun Shin, Doctoral Candidate, Urban Communication
School of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Interaction Between Urban Politics and Communication Ecology: With the Case of a Local Low-Income Housing Policy.”