Dr William J Kinsella

Picture of Dr William J Kinsella



Dr. Kinsella's research and teaching address the overlapping areas of organizational communication, environmental and energy communication, rhetoric of science and technology, and rhetoric of public policy. He views these areas through an interpretive perspective based in critical theory, phenomenology, rhetoric, and discourse studies. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics (Manhattan College), pursued graduate studies in astronomy and physics (New Mexico State University) and worked as a science educator before completing his master's and doctoral degrees in Communication at Rutgers University. He taught at Ocean County College (NJ), Richard Stockton State College (NJ), and Lewis & Clark College (OR) before joining the Communication faculty at NC State in 2004. He serves as a faculty member in the interdisciplinary programs in Communication, Rhetoric & Digital Media, Environmental Sciences, and Science, Technology & Society (STS), and directed the STS program from 2009-2014. During 2010 he was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at the Institute for Nuclear Energy and Energy Systems, University of Stuttgart, Germany. His work on nuclear energy communication has encompassed the areas of nuclear fusion, environmental cleanup across the US nuclear weapons complex, and commercial nuclear energy in US and global contexts.

Dr. Kinsella's work has received two Article of the Year awards from the National Communication Association's Organizational Communication Division (2000, 2005), three Christine L. Oravec research awards from the Association's Environmental Communication Division (2006, 2008, 2015), the Association’s Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Dissertation Award (1998), and a Best Research Article Award from the Canadian Association for Studies in Discourse and Writing (2013). He serves on the editorial boards of the Atlantic Journal of Communication, Environmental Communication, the KB Journal (Kenneth Burke Journal), and Science Communication. He co-directed the Seventh Biennial Conference on Communication and the Environment (2003) and the Second Annual Research Symposium on Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (2011), and served as President of the National Communication Association’s Environmental Communication Division during 2009-2010.

Teaching and Research Interests

  • Public discourses on issues with scientific/technical dimensions, especially in energy and environmental contexts
  • Interactions among policy makers, regulatory agencies, technical communities, and public stakeholder communities
  • Knowledge production across disciplinary, institutional, social, and cultural contexts
  • Communication and interdisciplinary collaboration in scientific research and technology development settings

Funded Research

  • Co-Principal Investigator, “Genetic Engineering and Society: Exploring the Case of Transgenic Pests." Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program (IGERT), National Science Foundation
  • U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award, 2010, “Nuclear Energy in Germany: Institutional, Political, and Public Communication in a Changing Social Context." Research and lecturing based at University of Stuttgart, Germany. 


Articles in academic journals including:

  • Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies
  • Communication Monographs
  • Communication Yearbook
  • Environmental Communication
  • Environmental Communication Yearbook
  • Management Communication Quarterly
  • New Jersey Journal of Communication
  • Qualitative Research Reports in Communication
  • Rhetoric Society Quarterly
  • Science as Culture
  • Technical Communication Quarterly
  • Technikfolgenabschätzung: Theorie und Praxis (Technology Assessment: Theory and Practice)

Eight chapters in six academic books; eight essays in five academic reference volumes.

Co-editor, Nuclear Legacies: Communication, Controversy, and the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex (Lexington Books, 2007/2008).


Selected Invited Presentations:

  • “Remembering, Regulating, and Resilience” preconference, International Communication Association, Fukuoka, Japan, June 2016
  • United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, workshop on “Understanding and communicating risks post-Fukushima,” Tokyo, November 2015
  • National Communication Association preconference: "Command, control, and communication— Scholarly perspectives on seventy years of nuclear weapons history." National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas, NV, November 2015
  • Workshop on “Engaging local communities on environmental risks,” Purdue University Center for the Environment, May 2015
  • Annual meeting, Oak Ridge Associated Universities Council of Sponsoring Institutions, Oak Ridge TN, March 2014
  • University of Vienna, June 2013
  • Workshop on nuclear futures, University of California, Berkeley, December 2010
  • University of Stuttgart, June 2010
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, June 2010

Graduate Advising

Doctoral dissertation committees:

Christian Casper, Nicholas Temple, David Gruber, Meagan Kittle Autry, Ashley Kelly, Kate Maddalena (Chair), Melinda Leonardo, Autumn Thoyre (UNC-Chapel Hill), Brian Bulla, Larissa Carneiro, Molly Hartzog, Elizabeth Pitts (Co-chair), Elizabeth Typhina.




  • PhD in Communication and Information Studies from Rutgers University, 1997
  • MCIS in Communication and Information Studies from Rutgers University
  • BS in Physics from Manhattan College