John Christopher Besley

John Christopher  Besley
  • Ellis N. Brandt Chair in Public Relations
  • Established through a gift from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation
  • Advertising and Public Relations


John Besley is the Ellis N. Brandt Chair in Public Relations and an associate professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. His research explores the relationships between media use, public engagement, and health and environmental risk perceptions. Besley’s work also explores journalistic norms related to coverage of public engagement, and research to better understand the impact of science and risk communication training.

He earned both his BA in journalism and MA in public administration from Carleton University, and his PhD in Communication from Cornell University. Prior to receiving his PhD, Besley served as a policy analyst in the policy and communications branch of Environment Canada. He joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 2012.

In addition to his regular research, Besley is the lead author for the 2014 and the 2016 National Science Board chapters on public attitudes and knowledge about science and technology. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in high-ranking journals including Risk Analysis, Science Communication, Public Understanding of Science, and The Journal of Risk Research.

Besley has served as chair for the science communication division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as chair for the risk communication division of the Society for Risk Analysis. He received a Top Reviewer Award from the Society for Risk Analysis in 2014. As an instructor, Besley focuses on civic engagement, risk and crisis communication, science communication, and media relations.