CARE congratulates Professor Mohan J. Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor and Director, CARE for his recognition as a 2021 National Communication Association (NCA) Distinguished Scholar
Presented annually, the Distinguished Scholar Award is NCA’s highest accolade. It honours a lifetime of scholarly achievement in the study of human communication. Recipients are selected by their peers to showcase the best of the communication discipline.
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Over a span of two decades, Professor Dutta has developed the culture-centered approach through his ethnographic justice-driven communication scholarship carried out in solidarity with communities at the “margins of the margins” across the globe. Spanning seventeen countries across four continents, the impact of this scholarship is felt in communities experiencing structural deprivation, through the creation of infrastructures for voice, participation, and community democracy. Fostering community participation in everyday grassroots democracies for social change, the program of research led by Professor Dutta has created community development solutions; designed material infrastructures such as community-owned food systems, hospitals, educational infrastructures, and systems of clean drinking water; led community-owned advocacy and activist campaigns, and guided public policy.
The Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) built by Dutta has led and carried out over fifty community-led social change projects across the globe, working with Indigenous communities, low-wage migrant workers, refugees, sex workers, precarious workers, domestic workers, rural communities, communities experiencing poverty, disabled communities, rainbow communities, minority communities, ageing communities, and farmers. The activist-in-residence programme at the Center, white papers, and community dialogues created anchors for structural transformation.
Theoretically, the framework of the culture-centered approach has been recognised as one of the most significant theories of communication, reflected in the Charles H. Woolbert Research Award, given to a “journal article or book chapter that has stood the test of time and has become a stimulus for new conceptualizations of communication phenomena.” His work with landless oppressed caste women farmers in Telangana organised into a cooperative has been recognised with the NCA Golden Anniversary Monograph Award. The CCA has formed the basis for over hundred research projects in marginalised communities across the globe.
Upon the recognition with the Distinguished Scholar award, noted Professor Dutta,
“The significant challenges of health and wellbeing, poverty, inequality, climate change, food security, access to clean drinking water, and peace and social cohesion outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals call for creative solutions build through community leadership and participation. I am humbled with this recognition as it speaks to the transformative power of communication, and particularly of voice infrastructures at the margins in leading the processes of structural transformation.”
In carrying out this work, Professor Dutta has educated, mentored and nurtured over three generations of students, community leaders, and activists, many of whom represent marginalised identities. His mentorship of scholars from the Global South has been recognised with the International Communication Association Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award. Earlier this year, he was recognised with the NCA Health Communication Division Award for “Outstanding contributions to promoting Equity and Inclusion.”
Professor Dutta is also recognised with the 2015 ICA Applied Public Policy Communication Researcher Award and is an ICA Fellow.
The NCA citation reads,
“Dr. Dutta’s research examines the role of advocacy and activism in challenging marginalizing structures, the relationship between poverty and health, and the ways in which participatory culture-centered processes serve as axes of global social change, among other topics. Dr. Dutta’s research program includes 10 books, over 200 articles and book chapters, and has been cited over 12,000 times. Dr. Dutta provides extensive intellectual leadership; they have directed 46 doctoral dissertations, facilitated numerous workshops, and served as editor of Journal of Applied Communication Research.”
Professor Dutta will be receiving the award at the NCA 107th Annual Convention in November.
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