B.A., Alma College; M.A., Western Michigan University; Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder. Organizational Communication. Dr. Dempsey’s research and teaching reflects her interest in critical perspectives of civil society organizations in the context of globalization, including how diverse groups such as NGOs nonprofitsand social entrepreneurs negotiate the contentious nature of their collaborations. Utilizing a critical/cultural perspective grounded in social theory, her scholarship bridges the interdisciplinary fields of communication, organization studies, and cultural geography. Her scholarly work emphasizes organizational voice and the complexities of coalition building, particularly among geographically distributed groups, and in contexts in which relatively well-resourced organizations advocate for groups with little access to the public sphere. This work provides insight into the complicated ethical and political dilemmas involved with speaking and organizing on behalf of other groups. Grounded within qualitative methods, her research highlights how dilemmas are experienced locally, asking what these dilemmas mean for the possibilities of coalition building.
Current Research: Dr. Sarah Dempsey’s research and teaching focuses on communication, collaboration, and representation in relation to nonprofit, community-based, and gendered forms of organizing. In her research, she draws on qualitative methods and critical/cultural approaches. Recent projects investigate the negotiation of accountability and grassroots representation by international NGOs, gendered representations of communication technologies, and the role of difference within transnational feminism. A current project examines the role of communication and power within campus-community engagement initiatives, and is informed by her work with the Center for Integrating Research and Action at UNC-Chapel Hill, http://www.cira-unc.org/. She is also currently researching the rise of social entrepreneurship, including how it is impacting meanings of work within the nonprofit sector.