Newswise — September 11, 2017 – Washington, D.C. – As journalism, media and communication (JMC) schools and colleges in the United States work to maintain their relevance in a changing digital world and adapt to new trends in higher education, many programs are scrambling to develop cultures of innovation, according to a new report released by faculty at American University and Florida International University. 

Released by the JMC Innovation Project, “The New JMC: Creating Cultures of Innovation in Schools of Journalism, Media and Communication”, presents the results of interviews with deans and directors of 70 JMC schools and colleges across the country. 

In response to a rapidly changing media landscape, universities and foundations invest millions of dollars in innovation initiatives, including centers aimed at understanding new forms of communication. This report is the first national assessment of the scope, status, and impact of these efforts, according to the study authors Kathy Fitzpatrick, professor of public relations and strategic communication at American University’s School of Communication, and Allan Richards, associate professor of journalism and media at Florida International University. The authors’ goal was to understand whether and how JMC schools and colleges were developing successful cultures of innovation to advance new ideas and practices in education and industry, more broadly.

Interviews revealed innovation is viewed as a strategic priority in the majority of programs. Yet, according to the study’s authors, there is an urgent need for greater emphasis on strategic planning and approaches to create synergies around shared beliefs, values and goals throughout schools and colleges.

“Although there are many noteworthy projects underway – many are exceptional in their own right – they don’t always add up to cultures of innovation,” Fitzpatrick said. “As a result, innovation efforts often are limited in scale and impact.”

“A reactive mindset also is slowing progress in programs that are primarily focused on the latest technologies, which can detract from long-range innovative thinking,” added Richards.           

The report identified five core elements that are vital to the development of a culture of innovation in JMC schools: inspirational leadership; strategic focus; dedicated resources; collaborative spirit and approach; and curricular currency. 

“Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to innovating,” Richards said, “these elements are fundamental in creating and sustaining cultures of innovation. Our hope is that the JMC Innovation Project will help to guide future planning and inform future investments in journalism, media and communication education.”


About the JMC Innovation Project

The JMC Innovation Project assessed the scope and status of innovation in U.S. schools and colleges of journalism, media and communication (JMC). Rather than rate or rank individual schools or programs as most or least innovative or compare innovation efforts between or among schools, the focus was on gauging progress in developing cultures of innovation that advance new ideas in JMC education and practice. Personal interviews were conducted with deans and directors from 70 of the 91 schools and colleges that are members of the Association for Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) and those with programs accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). Additional information was gathered in February 2017 during the ASJMC winter meeting. Visit for more information.

About American University

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 120 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.