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Mary Ann Allison

Associate Professor Emerita of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations


PHD, 2005, New York Univ (NYU); MBA, 1977, Long Island Univ Brooklyn; BA, 1971, Shimer Coll


Dr. Allison's research is multi-disciplinary and centers around the changes occurring as human societies evolve in a world where communications are not just technologies but an environment. Her dissertation,Gecyberschaft: A Theoretical Model for the Analysis of Emerging Electronic Communities won the Harold A. Innis Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Field of Media Ecology. She uses media theory, sociology, and complex systems theory to study the ways in which individuals, communities, and institutions are changing as a result of human immersion in electronic media. Dr. Allison teaches a series of courses in Media Studies, including media literacy, theory, research, and mass media in contemporary society and is the course director for Mass Communication: History and Development. She supervises independent study, internships, and honors theses. In addition, Dr. Allison supervises a few select students each semester who conduct action research examining their own and others' primary attention groups. In the area of urban and suburban communication, Dr. Allison conducts research for Hofstra's National Center for Suburban Studies and the Urban Communication Foundation.

An author, researcher, lecturer, and consultant on societal and community evolution and the application of complexity science to group effectiveness, Allison co-wrote The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Complexity Can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance McGraw-Hill, 1999), which the Wall Street Journal described by saying: "Anyone who grasps the concepts in The Complexity Advantage will have the power to change a business in startling ways. ... These are big ideas." Outside of academia, Allison's experience includes internal and external management, strategic planning, and product development and delivery. Allison was with Citibank for 16 years where she worked with emerging technologies on a global basis. Allison's first book, Through the Valley of Death (Doubleday 1983), is a murder mystery which she co-wrote with her husband, Eric Allison. She is listed in Who's Who and is a certified New York City Artist in Residence for poetry. Personal Webpage

Teaching Interests

- Media studies and media ecology (culture and communication) - Collaboration, cooperative, and commons, especially as facilitated by new media; participative democracy, facilitated group processes, feedback loops - Large scale social evolution, especially in the context of changing media environments - Community revitalization, organizational development and organizational communication -

Research Interests

- Patterns of social change: Large scale social evolution, especially in the context of changing media environments; new media - Urban Communication Theory: Urban communication, community revitalization, communication and concepts of preservation and progress - Group Capacity and Performance : Primary Attention Groups, Groups of Purpose, addressing Wicked Problems, sustainable high team performance - Discover to Excel: Use of communication skills to facilitate successful prisoner reentry into society
Photo of Mary Ann Allison

L Herbert School of Comm 313
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