Pamela Conners


Associate Professor and Chair in Communication Studies

As a teacher and a scholar, I value rhetoric’s potential to inspire civic engagement and advance a more just community. Through the development of writing, speaking, and listening, I believe we help students to be ethical and influential citizens, who think critically and argue passionately. My primary goals as a teacher are to foster a love of learning in my students, to introduce them to new ideas and perspectives, and to encourage them to see the resonance between their coursework and their everyday lives. 

Here at Gustavus, I teach a variety of courses that ask students to critically evaluate arguments, to understand the power of communication, and to recognize the role that our voices play in the ongoing work of a democracy.  Courses include Public Discourse, Rhetorical Criticism, Community Advocacy and Social Change, Argumentation and Debate, Deliberation, and Contemporary Rhetoric.

My research broadly investigates how public discourse shapes the development and implementation of public policy and what processes of public deliberation facilitate democratic decision-making, specifically in an education context.

Select Publications & Presentations

“Designing Productive Community Conversations.” (co-presenter Paul Peterson). Minnesota School Board Association Leadership Conference, January 2018.

Conners, Pamela. “Constructing Economic and Civic Values through Public Policy Debate: The Case of the National Housing Act of 1934.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 20 (2017): 421-452.

Conners, Pamela and Ryan Solomon. “The Business of School Board Deliberation.” In Communication and The Economy: History, Value and Agency.  Eds. Joshua S. Hanan and Mark Hayward. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2014. 209-232.

Asen, Robert, Deborah Gurke, Pamela Conners, Ryan Solomon, and Elsa Gumm. “Research Evidence and School-Board Deliberations: Lessons from Three Wisconsin School Districts.” Educational Policy 27 (2013): 33-63.

Asen, Robert, Deborah Gurke, Ryan Solomon, Pamela Conners, and Elsa Gumm. “‘The Research Says’: Definitions and Uses of a Key Policy Term in Federal Law and Local School-Board Deliberations.”  Argumentation and Advocacy 47 (2011): 195-213.

Gurke, Deb, Robert Asen, Pam Conners, Ryan Solomon, and Elsa Gumm. “School Boards and Decision-Making: Considering Evidence-Based Research.” American School Board Journal 198 (2011): 29-31.


Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison; M.A. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; B.A. Bates College

Courses Taught

COM-220 (Deliberation/Dialogue)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
COM-120 Public Discourse 13 2016/FA, 2016/SP, 2015/FA, 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, 2012/FA, 2012/SP, and 2011/FA
COM-220 Deliberation/Dialogue 12 2020/FA, 2020/SP, 2019/FA, and 2019/SP
COM-258 Rhetorical Criticism 8 2019/SP, 2016/FA, 2015/FA, 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, and 2012/FA
COM-244 ST:Delib & Dialogue 4 2018/FA and 2012/SP
COM-260 Argumentation and Debate 4 2017/SP, 2016/SP, 2012/FA, and 2011/FA
COM-344 ST: Rhetorics of Immigration 3 2019/FA, 2017/SP, and 2013/FA
COM-213 Rhetoric of Food 3 2017/JN, 2016/JN, and 2015/JN
COM-397 Honors Thesis 2 2016/FA and 2014/SP
COM-381 Contemporary Rhetoric 2 2015/FA and 2014/SP
COM-320 Public Engagement 1 2018/FA
COM-268 Career Exploration 1 2014/JN
COM-280 Advocacy & Change 1 2013/SP
NDL-249 Cambodia & Vietnam 1 2013/JN