Tackling tough issues—together

Lori Britt
Professor Lori Britt's Introduction to Human Communications course is a requirement in the Honors College.

SUMMARY: JMU communication studies professor Lori Britt engages students in public problem-solving using group facilitation.

By Sarah Featherstone (’13)

JMU communication studies professor Lori Britt has spent the last eight years inspiring her students to tackle challenging public issues.

“I have always thought the university is a place to get students to think so they are prepared to deal with the world on its terms,” she said. “The world is not easy, and it is not simple. But we’ve got to start this work now.”

Two years ago, Britt successfully piloted an honors section of the Fundamental Human Communication course, which has since been made a required cohort class for all Honors College students. The curriculum engages students in public problem-solving, delving deeply into the group facilitation process by incorporating academic concepts and an examination of these concepts in the public sphere.

To encourage collaboration, student groups are asked to identify a public issue they care about. The students name the issue, research how people talk about it, investigate what the problem looks like today and collect demographic information to begin drawing the boundaries of the issue.

Britt is extremely passionate about the curriculum because it’s so important to the students’ lives, both now and when they’re ready to embark on their careers.

“I think this is what the world needs.”

Read more in the Spring/Summer 2019 print issue of Madison


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Published: Friday, February 15, 2019

Last Updated: Thursday, August 8, 2019

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