Spoma Jovanovic, Ph.D.

Spoma Jovanovic, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita


Specializations: Community, Ethics and Social Change


  • Ph.D., University of Denver
  • M.A., University of Denver
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Scholarly interests

Ethics, civic participation, community, critical pedagogy, social justice, and interpretive research methods

Courses taught

CST 200: Communication and Community, service-learning
CST 210: Communicating Ethically
CST 399: Communication Research Methods
CST 440: Reclaiming Democracy
CST 460: Speaking of Happiness
CST 605: Communicating Social Change
CST 612: Critical Pedagogy and Research

Selected Research


Jovanovic. S. Finding expression in contested public spaces: Paths to free speech and civic engagement. Lexington Books.

Jovanovic, S., Swenson Lepper, T., Bell McManus L., Velez Ortiz, M., Ballard, R. L., Leavitt, M. & Charron, L. Communication ethics: Activities for critical thinking and reflection. Kendall Hunt.

Jovanovic, S. (2012). Democracy, dialogue, and community action: Truth and 
reconciliation in Greensboro. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press.

Journal Articles

Russell, V. & Jovanovic, S. (2020, April). Public deliberation and social justice sensibilities in Greensboro Participatory Budgeting. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14791420.2020.1746371

Jovanovic S. & Russell, V. (2019). Constructing civic competence through storytelling: Local knowledge and public consequences in participatory budgeting. Carolina Communication Annual, 35, 33-47.

Jovanovic, S. (2017). Speaking back to the neoliberal agenda for higher education. Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, special issue, pp. 1-6.

Jovanovic, S., Moretto, K. & Edwards, K. (2017). Faculty professional identity and goals for democratic learning: Moving from thin to thick conceptions of democratic engagement. International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, 5 (1), 25-40.

Russell, V., Jovanovic, S., Bozovich, M., Clifford, J. & Johnson, R. (2017). Developing robust undergraduate research opportunities in communication studies: A community-based research approach. Carolina Communication Annual, 33, 28-44.

Jovanovic, S. (2017). Speaking back to the neoliberal agenda for higher education. Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, special issue, pp. 1-6.

Poulos, C., Hamilton, C., Jovanovic, S. & Moretto, K. (2015). Our work is not done: Advancing democratic engagement as purpose and product of higher education. Journal for Higher Education and Community Engagement,7, 34-46.

Jovanovic, S., Congdon, M., Miller, C. & Richardson, G. (2015). Rooting the study of communication activism in an attempted book ban. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 6 (1), 115-135.

Bloch-Schulman, S., Humphrey, J.F., Jovanovic, S., Giles, H.S., Malotky, D. & Campbell, A. (2015). What kind of community: An inquiry into teacher practices that move beyond exclusion. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 6 (1), 25-50.

Ballard, R.L., Bell-McManus, L.M., Holba, A.M., Jovanovic, S., Tompkins, P.S., Charron, L.J.N., Hoffer, M.L. Leavitt, M.A. & Swenson-Lepper, T. (2014). Teaching communication ethics as central to the discipline. Journal of the Association for Communication Administration, 33 (2), 2-20. Released 11/2015.

Jovanovic, S. & Russell, V. (2014). Voices of grassroots activists: Dollars and sense in the city. Carolinas Communication Annual, 30, 19-33.

Book Chapters

Jovanovic, S. (2019). Communication, dialogue, and student activism. In P.A. Sasso & J. L.DeVitis (Eds.) Student activism in the academy: Its struggles and promise (pp. 21-34). Stylus/Myers Educational Press.

Russell, V. & Jovanovic, S. (2018). Academic allies and Millennial voices for democratic practice. In A. Atay and M Z. Ashlock (Eds.) Millennial culture and communication pedagogies: Narratives from the classroom and higher education (pp. 43-58). Lexington Books.

Jovanovic, S., Sizemore, S., Kout, Y., Musselwhite, J., Southard, J. & O’Donnell, K. M. (2016). One word does not a whole story tell: Contested truth on a highway historical marker. In J. Hannan & E. Winton (Eds.), Truth in the public sphere, pp. 43-62. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Jovanovic, S. (2014). The ethics of teaching communication activism. In L. R. Frey & D. L. Palmer (Eds.), Teaching communication activism: Communication education for social justice (pp. 105-138). New York, NY: Hampton Press.

Jovanovic, S. & Hollingsworth, S. E. (2014). An ethical imperative: The pursuit of truth, forgiveness and reconciliation in Greensboro. In I.M. Scott (Ed.), Crimes against humanity in the land of the free: Can truth and reconciliation heal America’s racial divide (pp. 171-193). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Jovanovic, S. & Wood, R. V. (2012). A more perfect union: Recovering ethics in public dialogue.  In J. H. Fritz & S. A. Groom (Eds.), Communication ethics and crisis: Negotiating differences in public and private spheres (pp. 117-131). Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Jovanovic, S. & Pitts, L. (2011).  Social action, local and national.  In K.Wehr (Ed.), Green culture: An a to z guide (pp. 413-416). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Web Magazine Research Articles

Jovanovic, S. & Wood, R. V. (2008, October).  Barack Obama’s call to restore ethics in politics. National Communication Association’s, Communication Currents, 3, 5.  Available at www.communicationcurrents.com

Jovanovic, S. & Wood, R. V. (2006, November 16).  Ethics in the city: How talk about
ethics leads to an ethical culture. National Communication Association’s
Communication Currents, 1, 1. Available at  www.communicationcurrents.com

Recent Honors and Recognition

2019  UNCG Lloyd Honors College Distinguished Residential Fellow

2016-2017  Subject Matter Expert/Member, U. S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Subcommittee on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)

2015  Top Article Award, National Communication Association’s Communication Ethics Division

2015-2018  North American Participatory Budgeting Research Board Member

2014  Invited Participant to U.S. White House event, “Promoting innovation in civic engagement: Exploring participatory budgeting in the United States.”

2014  Minority Access Incorporated Role Model Award

2013  Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award, Sue DeWine Applied Communication Book Award, NCA Communication Ethics Division Book  Award

2013  TEDx Greensboro speaker, Conversation is the Starting Point

2013  Gulf South Summit Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty Award

2012  NC Campus Compact’s Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award

2012  Carolinas Communication Association Ray Camp Research Award

Selected Grants & Contracts

2019-2020  Fellow, University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, Free Speech and Public Spaces: Voice, Activism, and Democracy  https://freespeechcenter.universityofcalifornia.edu/fellows-19-20/jovanovic-research/

2019-2021 National Communication Association Center for Communication, Community Collaboration, and Change: Cultivating Resilient Communities

2018  AAC&U Civic Learning in the Major by Design.

2017  ActionGreensboro/Downtown Greensboro, Inc. SPARK Grant with the Greensboro Police Department and Dept. of Transportation.

2016  City of Greensboro. Evaluating Greensboro’s Participatory Budgeting.

2015  The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society at Villanova UniversityEvaluating Greensboro’s Participatory Budgeting Process.

2014  Weaver Foundation: Consequential Democratic Learning at UNCG

2014  AAC&U’s Bringing Theory to Practice.

2012  The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society at Villanova UniversityThe Discourse of Participatory Budgeting Organizing Efforts in Greensboro, North Carolina.

2012  Greensboro News & Record. Increasing civic literacy and advocacy.

2011  SynerG Next Generation Project Competition: Bus Benches of Artistic Distinction.

Supervised Student Research

Vincent Russell
Rodney Johnson
Jeanette Musselwhite
Kelly O’Donnell
Elizabeth Dam-Regier
Nicholson Sprinkle
Crawford MillerJustin Dorazio
Patrick Sawyer
Ranata Reeder
Sarah Hollingsworth
Kimberly Yarbray
Crystal Edwards Olham
Amanda Szabo
Christopher Roberts
Mark Congdon
Dante Johnson
Ashley Livesay
Michael Bond 
Lori Mackowski
Suzanna Fielders
Megan Morrissey
Christina Poteet
Armond Towns
Christina Valenta
Adria Shipp
Cynthia Dew
William Woody
Kathe Latham
Justin Valleau
Carol Steger
Benedetta Bozzo
Sarah Symonds
Donata Nelson


  • Editor, Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement
  • Faculty Advisor, UNCG’s student newspaper, The Carolinian
  • UNC system Faculty Assembly
  • Past UNCG Faculty Senate Chair
  • Past Chair, NCA’s Communication Ethics Division
  • Faculty Leader, NCA’s Doctoral Honors Seminar: Communication as Engaged Scholarship
  • External Reviewer, Promotion and Tenure Committees & Department Assessments
  • UNCG’s QEP Steering Committee
  • Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Advocacy in Community Engagement Activities

  • Change in guidelines for bus bench design to allow for artistic installations that reflect the city’s identity and values (with Dudley High School & Action Greensboro’s synerG)
  • Change in policy for city bus shelter and bench guidelines that now allow for unrestricted placement on city-owned property (with Dudley High School).
  • Effort to launch city Participatory Budgeting process (with PB GSO and Fund for Democratic Communities).
  • Change in policy at Center City Park to allow for political speech (with Reclaiming Democracy faculty team).


American Association of Colleges and Universities
American Association of University Professors
American Civil Liberties Union, North Carolina
American Democracy Project
National Communication Association
Carolinas Communication Association
Southern States Communication Association