Stephen J. Hartnett PhD

Stephen J. Hartnett
Department of Communication

Mailing Address:
Department of Communication
Campus Box 176
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1201 Larimer Street
3rd Floor, Suite 3012
Denver, CO 80204


Office Hours
Appointments availiable through Zoom. Please email to schedule a meeting.

Expertise Areas: Civic engagement, globalization, social justice

PhD, UC San Diego, 1992
MA, UC San Diego, 1990
BA, Rutgers University, 1986

Stephen John Hartnett is a Professor of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver. He served as the 2017 President of the National Communication Association and is one of the co-founders of the Global Forum for Civic Affairs ( His work as a historian of American culture and politics has appeared in his award-winning books Democratic Dissent & the Cultural Fictions of Antebellum America and the 2-volume Executing Democracy: Capital Punishment & the Making of America. His work on U.S. foreign policy has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of SpeechRhetoric & Public AffairsCommunication and Critical/Cultural Studies, the South Atlantic QuarterlyCultural StudiesóCritical Methodologies, the Journal of International and Intercultural CommunicationText and Performance Quarterly, the Taiwan Journal of Democracy, and others. His Globalization and Empire was published by the University of Alabama Press in 2006; the co-edited Imagining China: Rhetorics of Nationalism in the Age of Globalization was published by the Michigan State University Press in 2017. His most recent book is A World of Turmoil: The United States, China, and Taiwan in the Long Cold War, published by the Michigan State University Press in 2021.

As evidence of the excellence of this scholarly work, Hartnett has received the 2013 Kohrs-Campbell Prize in Rhetorical Criticism, CU Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Science’s 2012 Excellence in Research and Creative Activities Award, the NCA’s 2011 Golden Monograph Award, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s 2011 PASS Award (Prevention for a Safer Society), the NCA’s 2002 Winans and Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, and the 2019 Xiao Award for Outstanding Research in Rhetoric from the Association for Chinese Communication Studies. 

Hartnett has spent the past thirteen summers (excepting the COVID years of 2020 and 2021) working in China, Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, Nepal, and India, where he has been gathering data, photographs, and interviews. Working in partnership with the National Communication Association and colleagues across China, he has co-organized and co-hosted conferences in Beijing in 2015, 2016, and 2018, in Shenzhen in 2019, and in online format in 2021. He is one of the leaders of the forthcoming Shanghai Dialogues, which will be held on the campus of the Shanghai International Studies University in June, 2022.

Hartnett has spent the past 31 years teaching in, writing about, and protesting at America’s prisons and jails. He has taught in prisons and jails in Colorado, California, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, and has lectured on prisons and/or the death penalty in 28 states. His commentary on prison education has appeared on MSNBC and in outlets such as SlateSalonIn These Times, and over 100 different radio stations. He is the editor of Challenging the Prison Industrial Complex and the co-editor of Working for Justice: A Handbook for Prison Educators and Activists, both published by the University of Illinois Press. As recognition of this work, Hartnett is the recipient of the University of Colorado’s Thomas Jefferson Award. Beginning in the Fall of 2021, he is working with a team of colleagues to launch a pilot program bringing for-credit CU college classes into Colorado prisons. For examples of the kinds of work produced by these education and activism efforts, please see the Department of Communication’s website for access to all back issues of Captured Words/Free Thoughts.

COMM 2075 Research and Writing for COMM Majors
COMM 4700 Thesis and Special Project Writing (required for high Latin honors)