Ethics and Strategic Communication Research Cluster

Ethics and Strategic Communication Research Cluster to Advance Maine’s Information Technology/Cyber Security Workforce

Lead PI Julien Murphy, Philosophy

USM Team members:

Maureen Ebben, Communications and Media Studies

Glenn Wilson, Technology; and Director, Information and Innovation

Project Abstract:

The Professional Ethics and Strategic Communication Research Cluster (PESC) conducts action research involving multidisciplinary faculty, community and industry partners, and student teams to create products and services designed to solve technical, ethical, strategic, and crisis communication cyber security issues to ensure success of Maine business.

PESC was created to fill a critical gap in resources for small and medium sized businesses in Maine, and in IT (information technology) education and training at USM. While most technical workers, professionals, and IT students are adept technically, many lack knowledge about IT ethical principles and strategic communication skills essential for data security—what we refer to as “the professional ethics and strategic communication (PESC) deficit.”  To paraphrase a community partner: “you can do more damage by saying and doing the wrong things after the fact, than damage done by a cyber-security breach, itself."  Organizations understand that cyber security breaches are not simply technical issues to be solved. They are also organizational communications events that must be managed effectively.  PESC develops ethics and communications competencies for Maine workforce, business, communities, and USM students.

The knowledge base of PESC affords critical cyber security deliverables currently lacking in many Maine businesses. These include strategic and crisis communications plans, code of cyber ethics design and implementation, user-policies and procedures, and “wicked problem” research database. Other PESC deliverables consist of data analytics on cyber exploits and PESC responses, and collaborative training with MCSC or other entities for small and medium businesses. PESC networking within Maine and beyond raises consciousness and differentiation between and among cyber security technical, legal, and professional ethics and strategic (crisis) communications incidents and exposures. In addition, the PESC website offers PESC iBook with integrated video (VOOK). PESC contributes conference presentations, and offers curative and preventative measures, courses, public/private training and curricula on PESC issues across the domains of research, community partners and student success. Finally, PESC impacts include reduced legal fees, limits on unnecessary employee terminations, increased productivity, decreased financial losses, increased community trust and brand integrity, placements of USM students in IT/Cyber Security jobs, and matching community and industry partners with high-quality employees.

Research Mission

To support research, scholarship and creative activity to: promote knowledge, discovery and practical application to advance Maine's economy, communities and the quality of life for Maine citizens; to strengthen classroom education and transform the lives of students through real world learning opportunities; and to support faculty and staff commitment to excellence in scholarly accomplishments regionally, nationally and internationally.