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Thursday, July 05, 2012 - Communications graduate students wow at ethics conference
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

Three Oakland University graduate students were among a select group of scholars who presented original research at the 2012 National Communication Ethics Conference hosted by Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  

Meghan Nyeste, Kelsey Hartung and Lana Brown – all members of Oakland’s newly launched Master of Arts in Communication program – were mentored by assistant professor Jeff Youngquist, Ph.D., who served as chair and respondent for the panel.

“Working with these three students has been exceptional,” Dr. Youngquist said. “To me, graduate school is largely about becoming an independent scholar and these three students took a significant step in that direction with this project. Their self-motivation and willingness to pursue significant academic projects is most impressive.”

The papers covered a wide range of ethics-related topics. Hartung's research centered on the ethical legacy of public relations pioneer Edward Bernays, while Brown's paper investigated the nature of communication and ethics in the game of golf. 

“I made the argument that the self-referee system of golf is fascinating in comparison to other sports that depend upon designated referee punishment,” Brown explained. “Golf is one of the only honor-based professional sports with the aim of having players be virtuous and reach the good established by the spirit of the ‘gentleman’s game.’”

In addition, Nyeste’s paper spotlighted the power dynamic in the professor/student relationship, focusing on whether violations of expected behaviors can change the power dynamic and how an ethical choice is also one of responsibility.

“Our panel sparked a lot of discussion afterward, and all three of us were asked questions about our papers,” Nyeste recalled. “I feel so lucky to have attended the conference, especially as a graduate student. There were scholars who have written numerous books, some of which I read for class, at the conference, and it was surreal to be socializing with them. It showed me how great OU's program is and how much our faculty support us and challenge us to strive for more.”

For more information on Oakland’s communication program, view the website at