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Assistant Professor
Year Started at JMU: 2019
Contact Info

Kara N. Dillard is an Assistant Professor in Digital Democratic Practice in the School of Communication, a Research Associate at the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Director of Research for the JMU Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue (ICAD), and the operations specialist for Common Ground for Action and a moderator training specialist for the National Issues Forums Institute. 

Dr. Dillard is an expert in online deliberation, having developed innovative programming and curriculum to convene civil discussions using the Common Ground for Action online deliberation platform. Dr. Dillard works in university settings and with community organizations to design public engagement processes that help groups address local, wicked issues both face-to-face and online. As a professionally trained facilitator she has convened and moderated over 100 deliberative dialogs across a series of topics on her campus, in the community, and online.

Dr. Dillard's current research examines the behavioral and attitudinal effects of citizen deliberation in online spaces, particularly using the Common Ground for Action online deliberative platform. She has published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Political Science Education, and the International Journal of Communication. She holds degrees in communication studies and earned a PhD in sociology from Kansas State University.

At JMU, Dr. Dillard primarily teaches SCOM 123 Fundamentals of Human Communication - Group Presentations. Over her career, she has taught classes in Social Problems, Political Deliberation, Group Communication, Civic Engagement in Urban Governance, Facilitation Training and Practice, Introduction to Statistics in the Social Sciences, Qualitative Methods and Fieldwork.

Outside of the office, Kara is an avid runner, sports enthusiast, sometimes cyclist, and mom to two kids and a dog. She moved to Harrisonburg after living almost all of her life west of the Rocky Mountains. Her claim to fame is being the official first broken arm injury of the 2010-2011 Colorado ski season.

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