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Publications in VIVO

Sprain, Leah

Associate Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Dr. Sprain's research program focuses on democratic engagement, studying how specific communication practices facilitate and inhibit democratic action. Because outreach and praxis are crucial to democratic engagement, much of her research is collaborative, funded, and focused on the theory–practice interface. Informed by work as a deliberative practitioner with the Colorado State University (CSU) Center for Public Deliberation (CPD), her research bridges conventional divisions among normative theory, empirical research, and practice. By working at the theory–practice interface, Dr. Sprain's research informs and improves democratic engagement on pressing social issues, such as climate change, water conflict, and community resilience.


  • deliberation, civic engagement, culture and communication, ethnography of communication, environmental communication, small group communication, social movement rhetoric, discourse analysis


selected publications


courses taught

  • COMM 1600 - Group Interaction
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2021 / Spring 2022 / Fall 2022 / Spring 2023 / Fall 2023
    Learn communication skills to be a better group member and enhance group effectiveness in a variety of professional and civic contexts. Practice group communication skills through an innovative group project and online simulation. Focuses on topics such as group development & socialization, decision making, conflict management, technology & virtual group work, difference & diversity, planning & coordination, leadership & management, and ethics. Required for COMM and COMN majors.
  • COMM 2400 - Discourse, Culture and Identities
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2020
    Considers how communication is central to constructing who people are and examines social controversies related to talk and identities. Students learn to analyze and understand discourse, defined as everyday talk and conversation, through the practice of discourse analysis.
  • COMM 3000 - Issues in Communication
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Explores select issues in communication. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours on different issues. Recommended prerequisites: COMM 1210 and COMM 1600.
  • COMM 6010 - Communication Research and Theory
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2023
    Provides an introduction to graduate study of communication, offering an overview of the discipline and its scholarship. Required for MA and Ph.D. communication students.
  • COMM 6030 - Qualitative Research Methods
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2021
    Introduction to the epistemology, methodology, and representational practices associated with qualitative communication research. Fieldwork methods emphasized include participant observation, interviewing, and document/artifact analysis.
  • COMM 6200 - Seminar: Selected Topics
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Facilitates understanding of current and past theory and research on a selected topic in communication and the ability to develop new theory and research on that topic. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours on different topics.
  • COMM 6455 - Community-based Research Methods
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021
    Facilitates and supports graduate student-led community-based research. Working from multiple CBR traditions, students develop a thoughtful rationale for conducting CBR and practice a repertoire of CBR methods (e.g., group decision-making, managing ethical dilemmas, collaborative data collection and analysis, and communicating findings).
  • COMM 6940 - Master's Candidate for Degree
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019


awards and honors

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