Matthew Brigham


Assistant Professor
Contact Info

Matthew Brigham (Matt) came to JMU in 2009. He grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and attended Baylor University for his BA (political science, philosophy, and environmental studies majors, gender studies minor); MA (Communication Studies). Matt earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. His dissertation explored international conferences regarding human overpopulation.

In 2017, the SCOM graduate students awarded Matt the Outstanding Graduate Faculty award, one of his most treasured professional achievements. He has been a Madison Research Fellow, a Madison Teaching Fellow, and has assisted JMU Debate, for which the debaters selected Matt for their “Friend of Debate” award. Matt recently served as an Innovation Services Faculty associate, helping to found the Teaching for 21st Century Peer Mentors and Schools Initiative.

Matt teaches general education (123), a core  course (341: Persuasion), and advanced methods (381: Rhetorical Research Methods).  In Advocacy Studies: 352 (Communication and Social Movements), 353 (American Political Culture and Communication), 354 (Environmental Communication and Advocacy), 453 (Political Campaign Communication), and 464 (Communication, Culture, and Sports), many courses which count toward the Sport Communication, Political Communication, and Environmental Studies interdisciplinary minors. Matt has also taught 541 (Rhetorical Theory and Advocacy) and 652 (Environmental Justice) at the graduate level. Matt enjoys helping students transform class papers into conference or journal submissions.

Matt’s research utilizes rhetorical and argumentation theory to explore various controversies. He often focuses on public controversies, especially those involving the environment, race, international/transitional issues, or some combination of these. Matt also examines pedagogical and university/disciplinary-oriented controversies. For instance, he is interested in how  we should consider the role of academic forensics (speech and debate) in the communication discipline and at the university; and how forensics serve as a rich site of academic inquiry. Matt’s research has appeared in journals including the Western Journal of Communication, Argumentation and Advocacy, Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, Speaker & Gavel, and The Florida Communication Journal. Matt enjoys collaborating on scholarly projects with colleagues.

Matt also enjoys service opportunities, including serving on undergraduate honors project and graduate thesis committees. Matt has helped select and coach the May commencement ceremonies undergraduate student speaker. He also works with the Madison Collaborative, including the “It’s Complicated” ethical reasoning scenario exercise during first-year orientation. His submitted scenario was selected and awarded to be part of “Contagion,” which debuted August 2016. Matt is one of the inaugural members of the Madison Hispanic Faculty Caucus. He reviews submissions, chairs panels, and responds to papers for the Public Address Division, the Latino/Latina Communication Studies Division, and the La Raza Caucus for the National Communication Association (NCA) convention, and previously served as an officer for the latter two units, which included planning the convention program.

Outside of academia, Matt is an avid sports fan (Baylor and JMU, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, USWNT, USMNT,) and he is always looking to learn and appreciate others!, He also enjoys traveling (and has been to 46 of 50 states, looking to visit the last few!).

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