Thomas Barker, PhD


Extension | Arts

About Me

Thomas Barker, PhD is Professor of Communication in the Graduate Program in Communication and Technology in the Faculty of Extension. He served as Director of Technical Communication at Texas Tech University, and also served as Chair of the President's Strategic Planning Advisory Council, and Faculty Advisor to the TTU Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). Professionally he served on the STC President's Education Task Force, the Body of Knowledge Task Force. His current work is in leadership communication and risk communication. He helped develop the Advanced Citation in Leadership and the Wellness Leadership Series in the Faculty of Extension, and teaches graduate courses in leadership communication. He is a Contributing Faculty in the University of Alberta, Peter Lougheed Leadership College. He recently received a three-year OHS Futures Grant from the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour to investigate psychosocial hazards for human service workers in Alberta.


Thomas Barker is Professor of Communication in the Graduate Program in Communication and Technology in the Faculty of Extension and Professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. His research work focuses on communication issues in public health, risk communication, and community engagement. He was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Alberta in 2007-2008 studying models of community engagement for risk communication for pandemics. He is a research partner in a project to map and evaluate models of participatory action research in public health, currently under review by CIHR. He has published work in software documentation, risk communication for information dissemination, and community involvement in academic programs. He teaches risk communication and leadership communication in the Faculty of Extension and the Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta. 


My vision as an engaged scholar is summed up by the following quotation that appears at the top of my web page:

"Unless we analyze, we cannot understand the public interest; unless we turn analysis into activity, we cannot serve it." 

~Alan Gross, "The Roles of Rhetoric in the Public Understanding of Science"

I see my scholarly work as a process of learning and knowledge making that uses analytical tools (research methodologies, critical discussions) to derive understandings (theories, frameworks, and best practices). This process is ongoing and evolving through repeated enactment, review, and re-enactment. As I have said in my publications, it is important to "close the loop" in process development and always strive for a higher, more mature levels of understanding and service. These understandings contribute to public knowledge and the public good.