College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Katherine E Rowan

Katherine E Rowan

Katherine E Rowan

Professor, Science Communication Certificate Program

Risk and crisis communication, science communication, public relations. Director, Science Communication Graduate Certificate

Kathy Rowan is a professor of communication at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. Her research concerns the public relations challenges of earning trust and explaining complexities in risk and crisis communication contexts. At George Mason, she teaches public relations.  Professor Rowan received her bachelor's degree from George Mason's English Department in 1975.
After graduation, she worked for the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Public Affairs. Her master's degree was earned in communication and journalism from the University of Illinois, and her doctorate in the teaching of rhetoric and composition from Purdue's English Department. She joined Purdue's Communication Department in 1985, earning tenure in 1991 and full professor status in 1996. As a GMU alumna, she returned home in 2000 to join one of the best communication faculties on the East Coast. Professor Rowan became interested in risk, crisis, and science communication through studies of science communication in the mass media.
Professor Rowan is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  She has authored or edited over 70 scholarly and governmental publications concerning effective methods for earning trust and explaining complex science. During the last 15 years, she has given presentations on risk, science, and crisis communication for organizations such as the National Library of Medicine, Agricultural Communicators in Education, the National Institutes of Health's Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Current Research

Principal investigator.  Science communication education for VASG Fellows.  Funded, Virginia Sea Grant.

Selected Publications

Akerlof, K. L., Rowan, K. E., Fitzgerald, D., & Cedeno, A. Y. (2012). Communicating climate projections in U. S. media: Politicization of model uncertainty. Nature Climate Change, 2,

Littlefield, R., Rowan, K. E., Veil, S., Kisselburgh, L., Beauchamp, K., Vidoloff, K., Dick, M. L., Russell-Loretz, T., Cho, H., Kim, I., Ruvarac, A., & Wang, Q. (2010). “We tell people. It’s up to them to be prepared”: Public relations practices of local emergency managers (pp. 245-260). In W. T. Coombs & S. H. Holladay (Eds.), Handbook of crisis communication. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Rowan, K. E., Botan, C. H., Kreps, G. L., Samoilenko, S., & Farnsworth, K. (2009). Risk communication education for local emergency managers: Using the CAUSE Model for research, education, and outreach (pp. 168-191). In R. Heath & H. D. O’Hair (Eds.), Handbook of crisis and risk communication. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Rowan, K. E. (2003). Informing and explaining skills: Theory and research on informative communication. In J. O. Greene & B. R. Burleson (Eds.), The handbook of communication and social interaction skills (pp. 403-438). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Dissertations Supervised

Andrew S. Pyle, Intercultural Emergency Communication: Making Sense of Intercultural Communication Competence in Emergency Response Contexts (2014)

Yuxiang Du, Identity Negotiation and Perceptual Change: Examining the Confucius Institute’s Effects on Perceptions of China (2016)