USC Annenberg will welcome new faculty this year. Ulrike Gretzel, left, will teach PR 463: Strategic Public Relations Research, Analysis and Insights and Kiran Dhillon, right, will teach COMM 322: Argumentation.

Two new faculty join USC Annenberg in debate, public relations

With a new school year upon us, there will be some a few new faces working at USC Annenberg.

Both the School of Communication and School of Journalism will welcome new faculty this year.  Kiran Dhillon will be lecturer in the School of Communication and associate director of debate and forensics for the USC Trojan Debate Squad. Ulrike Gretzel will be a Visiting Professor of Professional Practice in the School of Journalism.

New faculty member Dhillon will teach COMM 322: Argumentation, which will help students research, organize, develop, evaluate, refute, and critique arguments. The course will focus on two different senses of the term argument, first as the claims people make and second as a type of interaction in which people engage.  

“Students will learn about the theoretical foundation of building arguments and the different models for argument that they can apply to everyday life, business, social settings, maybe even policy issues,” said Dhillon.

Dhillon lets students pick a resolution and vote on topic ideas. She said the course gets students to think about the types of supporting resources they use when debating. For example, students tend to turn to Google first, so she starts with Wikipedia.

“Wikipedia is good for the sources at the bottom of the page,” Dhillon said. “They will have news coverage, journals, books and that's what they should use it for.”

Dhillon started debating in high school in Florida. She ended up competing at the national level and was recruited for debate by the University of Iowa. In college she majored in Political Science and Communication, and went on to the University of Northern Iowa for her Masters, followed by a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in Communication Rhetorical Studies.

Dhillon said she hoped students have fun in the course.

“Debating is part of our democratic values,” she said. “If there’s something in their local government students want to change, they have the skill set to change something and come up with a logical plan. It is through words we create a lot of change, it’s through discourse, it’s through your language.”

Meanwhile, in the School of Journalism, Gretzel will be teaching PR 463: Strategic Public Relations Research, Analysis and Insights, an introduction to research methodologies.

“Public Relations, traditionally, has not been a research heavy industry but social media is becoming so central to public relations, and suddenly PR professionals have to be aware of social media metrics,” Gretzel said.

Gretzel said the class would look at analytics for social media, including Twitter and Facebook, and discuss the differences between the platforms. They will also engage traditional research methods like focus groups.

Most recently Gretzel was a professor of tourism at the University of Queensland in Australia. Her academic background began with a Masters in International Business, but she switched to the communication field when a thesis advisor convinced her to pursue a Ph.D. that eventually brought her to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I’m very excited to be in Los Angeles because I think this is a hotspot for public relations, travel and entertainment. In many ways, Los Angeles is a very good fit for me and I’m excited to bridge academia and practice,” Gretzel said.