CCT Alumni Highlight: Josh Scacco

Posted in Announcements

CCT is excited to feature alum Josh Scacco (CCT ’10) in today’s alumni highlight! He was appointed founding director of the Center for Sustainable Democracy at University of South Florida late last year. We’re grateful that Josh took time to share his more about experience at CCT, his professional and academic background, and how the skills he learned at CCT are being applied in his current position.

When did you graduate from CCT and would you like to share the jobs you held before and after your time at CCT?

I graduated from CCT in May 2010. Following CCT, I went to the University of Texas at Austin for my PhD in Communication Studies and have held faculty positions at Purdue University and the University of South Florida (USF). Currently, I am an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Communication at USF. My research is focused on how agents and leaders in a democracy can effectively and ethically harness communication technologies to strengthen democratic governance. This position aligns with my commitment to and experience applying research through partnerships that extend democratic representation and employ democratically-focused approaches for government officials, journalists, and citizens. I am the coauthor, with Kevin Coe, of the book The Ubiquitous Presidency: Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times (Oxford University Press).

What does your new role as the USF Center for Sustainable Democracy’s founding director entail?

I am founding director of the Center for Sustainable Democracy. The Center for Sustainable Democracy (CSD) is a nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary research center focusing on challenges posed to and opportunities for democracy and civil society in the 21st century. Sustainable democracy means governance, information, and societal processes that empower people to make informed decisions and engage in public life. In my role, I lead research and engagement efforts focused on how resilient leadership, information environments, and sustainable communities can meaningful contribute to democracy and governance.

This picture is from a recent Center immersion program on Journalism & Democracy with 15 Brazilian journalists. This program was funded by the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy and Consulates in Brazil.

What was your focus at CCT and how are you applying that in your position at the USF Center for Sustainable Democracy?

I focused on Media and Politics at CCT. This background, as well as my additional training and research after leaving Georgetown, prepared me to understand the challenges and opportunities to contemporary democracies with regard to media and news, technology, and political leadership. I employ many of the research skills I honed at CCT, including advanced quantitative and content analyses of media content and effects, as well as survey and experimental work in the Center’s research projects. Working with Diana Owen at CCT, Georgetown also instilled in me a global outlook to how research can be translated for the broader public.

Were there any courses that you took at CCT that really stand out for you, and do you recommend any particular courses to students looking to go into a similar field or career trajectory as you?

Courses on Media & Politics, Communication and the Public Sphere, and Language & Politics helped to assist my thinking on political leadership and issues in contemporary democracies.

What are you most excited about in this new role and new program?

I am most excited about promoting the importance of democracy for students and the broader local, national, and international community via research initiatives and engagement. Democracy begins at home. CSD builds opportunities on the USF campus for graduate and undergraduate student research and development, including the tangible skills for future careers and members of civil society. These skills include research-based ones, public communication, and networking.