Recognising a signature pedagogy for Public Relations teaching and learning in the last twenty years: The major driver for change in Public Relations education has been the constant struggle to prove our value

Susan Kinnear*, Sarah Bowman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study attempts to identify the drivers for change in Public Relations education and what assumptions are made about professional practice. The authors suggest signature pedagogy has the potential to deepen our understanding of the teaching and learning of Public Relations and what this means as the Public Relations curriculum adapts. The paper has theoretical and practical value. It forefronts the concept of signature pedagogy as a fresh way to look at Public Relations teaching and learning that can be developed. Design/methodology/approach: This paper aims to explore the historical and contemporary context of teaching Public Relations within a university setting, how it has evolved and the assumptions that underpin it both nationally and internationally. Using a mixed methods approach, the paper investigates how the curriculum has changed since 2000, how it interacts with industry and how it reflects educational historical and contemporary frameworks. It also explores the assumptions on which Public Relations education was and is based and whether signature pedagogy is evidenced. Findings: This study concludes that, from a signature pedagogy perspective, many current Public Relations curricula emphasise surface structures of learning. Deep structures, focusing on critical engagement and conceptual approaches to problem solving, are more variable, disconnected and contested. The data indicate the existence of an Anglo-American, skills-based approach to Public Relations knowledge, alongside international nuances around multi-culturalism. From a practical viewpoint, the paper contributes to how Public Relations programmes can be designed, taught and adapted in the future. Originality/value: The paper evidences fully unique, primary research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
JournalCorporate Communications
Issue number1
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024

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