Mark Aakhus


Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Communication


CI 318

Mark Aakhus investigates the relationship among communication, argumentation, and design in digital society as realized in contemporary discourses, professional conduct, organizational processes, and information infrastructures. Grounded in multiple methods of discourse analysis that also incorporate computational social science and digital ethnography, his studies focus on the conduct, conceptualization, and consequences of technological and organizational interventions that seek to augment interaction and reasoning in decision-making and conflict-management.


University of Arizona
Ph.D., Communication and Management Information Systems

Washington State University
M.A., Communication (Language and Social Interaction)

University of North Dakota
B.A., Political Science and Journalism


The aim of Aakhus's research, along with his teaching and engagement, is to improve understanding of the intentional, and emergent, design of institutions and infrastructures for communication and the co-creation of innovative and accountable democratic practice.

Current research themes include:

  • Artificial Intelligence as a puzzle of communication

  • Designability: making the case for what can and should be designable

  • Contestability by design for accountable algorithmic systems, platforms, and organizations

  • AI in research and professional practice

  • Designing common(s) ground for open innovation and maintenance

  • Sustainability communication: Deliberation and collective intelligence for environmental and wellness decision making

He recently co-authored the book - Argumentation in Complex Communication: Managing Disagreement in a Polylogue - on Cambridge University Press. The book offers an innovative account of argumentation in digital society that updates the twentieth-century revival of reasoning as communicative, situated practice while re-imagining a classical concern with many-to-many communication. He previously co-edited a pioneering book - Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance - also published by Cambridge University Press that anticipated social transformations afforded by mobile phones. In addition, he has published extensively and edited multiple special issues and proceedings about how emerging technologies are entangled in the pragmatics of human communication.

Centers, Labs, Working Groups, and Clusters

Funded Projects

Aakhus has received funding for his research from the Kellogg Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Sun Micro-Systems, Rutgers Academic Excellence Fund, Rutgers Office of the Vice President for Research, and the National Science Foundation. 

Selected Publications

Lewinksi, M. & Aakhus, M. (2023). Argumentation in Complex Communication: Managing Disagreement in Polylogue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Aakhus, M. (2017). The Communicative Work of Organizations in Shaping Argumentative Realities. Philosophy & Technology, 30, 191-208. 

Aakhus, M., and Bzdak, M. (2015), Stakeholder engagement as communication design practice. J. Public Affairs, 15, 188–200. 

Aakhus, M., Ågerfalk, P., Lyytinen, K., & Te’eni, D. (2014). Symbolic Action Research in Information Systems: Introduction to the Special Issue. MIS Quarterly38(4), 1187–1200. 

Aakhus, M., and Jackson, S. (2014), Becoming More Reflective about the Role of Design in Communication. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 2.2 125–134.

Awards & Recognitions

2023 Distinguished Book Award, Philosophy of Communication Division of the National Communication Association

2023-2024 Provost Leadership Research Senior Fellow, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

2022 Mercator Fellow, Darmstadt Technical University Research Training Group KRITIS.

2020 Faculty Affiliate, Rutgers Climate and Energy Institute, Rutgers University

2019 Faculty Affiliate, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University

2019-2020 Faculty Fellow, Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis: The University and its Public Worlds.

2018-2022 Scientific Advisor, European Cooperation in Science in Technology, COST Action 17132 – APPLY: European network for argumentation and public policy analysis.

2017-2020 Doctoral Faculty, Doctoral Program in Applied Linguistics: Argumentation in Professional Practice. Zurich University of Applied Sciences School of Applied Linguistics and Università della Svizzera italiana, Faculty of Communication Sciences.

2016 Research Associate II Member, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

2015 Distinguished Publication Award for a Special Journal Issue, Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association for “Communication and Design” published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research.

2015 Guest Professor of Informatics and Media, Uppsala University, Uppsala Sweden.

2012 Rutgers Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award Nominee from the School of Communication & Information.

2012 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching, Department of Communication, Rutgers University.

2011 Doctoral Faculty, Argupolis International PhD School, “Argumentation quality in context: evaluation, design and best practices,” Institute of Argumentation, Linguistics, and Semiotics (IALS) in the Faculty of Communication Sciences of the Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano Switzerland.

2009, 2012 Most Valuable MCIS Professor, Selected by Masters in Communication and Information Graduate Student Association, Rutgers University.

2009 Visiting Professor of Information Systems, Uppsala University, Uppsala Sweden.

2009 Distinguished Achievement in Service, Department of Communication, Rutgers University.

2009 Distinguished Service to the National Communication Association Research Board.

1998 W. Charles Redding Award for best Dissertation in Organizational Communication, International Communication Association, Jerusalem, Israel.

1996 Outstanding Doctoral Student Award, Department of Communication, University of Arizona.

1995 International Communication Association Outstanding Graduate Teacher, Albuquerque, NM.

1995 Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, University of Arizona.

Additional Resources

APPLY - European Network for Argumentation and Public Policy Analysis

APPLY WG3 Report:Basic resources and methods for designing public argumentation (PDF). Authors: Mark Aakhus, Monika Mačiulienė, Fabio Paglieri, Sandrine Roginsky, Paolo Torroni, Serena Villata.

APPLY Guidelines for Designing Public Argumentation 

Ph.D. Theses Supervised (by date of completion)

Goldthwaite, C. (2018). Interdisciplinary Research as Communication Design Practice. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.;

Appel, L. (2016). Applying Design Science to address Health System Problems: A Case of Designing Communication to Manage Clinician Anonymity in an Academic Hospital. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
*2017 Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, National Communication Association.

Anderson, J. D. (2013). Communication Design Work in the Professional Practice of Association Management. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 

Laureij, L. V. (2013). Supply Chain Contracting as Disagreement Management: Institutionalizing Procurement Practice Through Communication Design. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 

Ziek, P. E. (2012). Inter-organizational infrastructure for communication: A study of the generative aspects of the communication context on CSR strategy and instrumentation. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  

Grushina, S. (2011). Evolution of a design for communication: The case of the Global Reporting Initiative reporting guidelines. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  

Vasilyeva, A. L. (2010). Creating deliberation in the context of social conflict: The examination of mediator practices for shaping interactivity in dispute mediation. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  

Research Keywords