Collage of photos from the Department of Communication Studies at CSU

Together, we imagine and engage

In the Department of Communication Studies, together, we imagine, adapt, engage, and lead. From the ACT Human Rights Film Festival to the Center for Public Deliberation, we engage with the personal and the structural to understand one another better. From student recruitment to student success, we create opportunities for first-generation students to find a place and build their impact.

Together, we advance the human experience.

Presentors at the first virtual ACT Film Fest in 2020


Since 2016, the ACT Human Rights Film Festival has showcased unforgettable, worldwide stories that inspire and challenge. When COVID-19 made it impossible for festival-goers to gather in person, ACT found a new way to experience the world and each other. Last fall, ACT launched its fifth annual festival as a virtual event. People from 26 states and 5 countries watched films and engaged with filmmakers from (mostly) the comfort of home. The outpouring of enthusiasm and support reinforced the festival’s purpose to awaken, connect, and transform.

Learn more about the ACT Human Rights Film Festival.


Each spring the Department of Communication Studies celebrates the achievements of its first generation majors during a special event that provides students an opportunity to connect with faculty in a more relaxed setting and features encouraging talks by first generation alumni. COVID-19 changed the 2020 event. Determined to connect first generation students and alumni, Direct of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Elizabeth Williams, who is also first generation, invited all first gen majors to apply for a chance to “virtually” talk one-on-one with first generation communication studies alumni about life, school, and making it through despite the unknown. The result: five “First Generation Conversations” that showcase dedication, vulnerability, resilience, and pride.

Screen grab from a Zoom call between first generation alumni and current communication studies students
Center for Public Deliberation hosts a listening session for the City of Fort Collins


Center for Public Deliberation student associates facilitate complex conversations about wicked problems facing our community. During civic engagement events, students lead small-group conversations about these issues with participants from all walks of life, listening across difference, maintaining neutrality, and fostering a sense of belonging. Since the pandemic started, the CPD has shifted their in-person facilitation to a virtual format.

Learn more about the Center for Public Deliberation housed within the Department of Communication Studies.


Mahalia Henschel came to CSU a motivated first-generation student: she became a communication studies major, won a full scholarship, and envisioned a future built on leading change for marginalized communities through positivity and innovative thinking. Henschel excelled at channeling her passion for making a difference into leadership activities that left a mark, like the day she emceed the inauguration of Colorado State University’s first female president in 150 years. 

Read more about Mahalia Henschel.

Mahalia Henschel speaking at the inaugration of President Joyce McConnell
Alumni Newsletter header communication studies


As the Department of Communication Studies reflects on the challenges – and opportunities – of the 2020-21 academic year, it wanted nothing more than to reconnect with the people who know them best: alumni. Centering this group as its most valued audience, the Department created an end of year newsletter that showcases how faculty, staff, and students forged ahead during this time of unprecedented change.

Read more news from the Department of Communication Studies in their Spring 2021 alumni newsletter.