Windy Y. Lawrence, Ph.D., is an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Houston – Downtown, and the founder and director of the UHD Center for Public Deliberation. Her interests focus on contemporary public affairs as they intersect with deliberative theory and practice.
The center she directs is situated as a central resource and think tank for the greater Houston region to help provide more opportunities for people to come together across differences to discuss and act on critical issues, such as education, civic engagement, economic opportunity, health care, and more.
Dr. Lawrence’s research is published in several books and journals, including Journal of Public Deliberation, Southern Journal of Communication, eJournal of Public Affairs, Howard Journal of Communication, Texas Speech Communication Journal, Speaker and Gavel, and American Voices: Encyclopedia of Contemporary Orators. Her research has won multiple awards, including the Owen J. Peterson Award, top paper for National Communication Association, and top paper for Eastern Communication Association.
She earned her Ph.D. in communication at the University of Georgia in 2002, and has received additional certification training by the National Issues Forums and Fielding University’s dialogue, deliberation, and public participation certification program.
Her most recent awarded grant, by the American Association of Colleges & Universities Bringing Theory to Practice, is focused on bringing various institutions of higher education together to create civic pathways.
In order for the center to serve as the central think tank for dialogue and deliberation in Houston, Dr. Lawrence recently developed and manages an innovative curriculum initiative, Interact to Innovate. The program provides an evidence-based structure for faculty and students to work together in high-impact learning communities across all higher education disciplines to build students’ capacity for civic leadership and action while also building the critical soft skills desired by employers.