Tarleton students attend, present case studies at PRSA Educators Academy


STEPHENVILLE (April 13, 2017) — Tarleton State University communication graduate students, staff and faculty presented research on communication ethics at the region’s first Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Educators Academy Mini-Friday.

The event took place April 7 at Baylor University in Waco.

Tarleton graduate students Skyla Claxton, Elizabeth Lempeotis and Keauno Perez joined Outreach Specialist Brandon Sermon to present “Move over Utilitarianism: Incorporating and Valuing Additional Ethical Frameworks for Social Media and Public Relations.” Dr. Sarah Maben, assistant professor of communication studies, served as moderator.

Each panelist presented a recent ethical situation and dissected how decision makers could have used other ethical philosophies to better inform the choices made.

Claxton used Ubuntu philosophy to help Apple decide to pay artists for their work before Taylor Swift had to bring light to the situation. Lempeotis used Rotary International’s Four-Way Test to inform Disney on its recent release of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Perez used Ethics of Care to illustrate how the television network TLC could have handled the Josh Duggar scandal from the reality show “19 Kids and Counting.” Sermon showed how Buddhist precepts could have saved Home Depot from an insensitive tweet during ESPN’s “GameDay” coverage.

Representing Tarleton State University at the recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Educators Academy at Baylor were (l-r) Skyla Claxton, Keauno Perez, Dr. Sarah Maben, Lizzie Lempeotis and Brandon Sermon.

The peer-reviewed panel was a first for all four participants.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Tarleton and our students,” Maben said. “Each panelist delivered a polished research presentation that engaged the audience and broadened our discussion of ethics. As a Western society, we tend to default to a utilitarian mindset—the greatest good for the greatest number. In our graduate program, we take a global approach to ethics, and our students delivered a great panel.”

Case studies presented for the panel began as graduate communication ethics coursework. From here, panelists and graduate students in the spring course plan to pursue publication in academic journals.

PRSA boasts a membership of more than 30,000 public relations and communication professionals focused on ethical communication, professional development and industry leadership. Its Educators Academy is geared toward advancing public relations through collaboration with industry practitioners and collegiate educators. Attendees and presenters were from the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Texas State University, Baylor University and Xavier University.

To learn more about the Department of Communication Studies at Tarleton, visit www.tarleton.edu/communications.

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