Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level





Matthew Spialek

Committee Member

Lindsey Aloia

Second Committee Member

Ryan Neville-Shepard


Citizen participation, Community disruption, Community resilience, Everyday communication, Place attachment, Sense of belonging, Social capital


This thesis investigated the role of social capital and everyday communication in campus community resilience capacities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study conceptualized the university community as a micro-community that experienced sharp disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same way that traditionally conceptualized communities harness communication to build resilience, this study provides evidence that micro-communities, such as the university campus, have the same potential. Focus groups with students, faculty, and staff, as well as one-on-one semi-structured interviews with students, resulted in 557 pages of single-spaced transcripts that provided rich data to understand this community resilience context. Elements of grounded theory analysis uncovered findings across five research questions that demonstrated how the university community simultaneously affirmed and contradicted existing resilience frameworks as they worked toward bouncing forward into a new normal for their community. This study questioned and expanded existing resilience frameworks as it underlined the foundational nature of communication in the resilience process. Theoretical and practical implications developed from this research and provide opportunities for future research about what exactly constitutes a community and just how expansive is the nature of communication in resilience.