Rahul Mitra

Faculty Profile

Associate Professor




Rahul Mitra is an Associate Professor, whose research is at the intersection of organizational and environmental communication. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D. from Purdue University, he worked in the business news and public relations fields in India for three and a half years. His scholarship focuses on environmental organizing, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR),and meaningful work discourses. He is a critical-interpretive scholar, and uses primarily qualitative methods, such as ethnography, interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis, and arts-based research. His work has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed publications such as Environmental Communication, Management Communication Quarterly, Human Relations, Communication Theory, International Journal of Business Communication, Public Relations Review, and Journal of Business Ethics.

At Wayne State, he directs the “Resilient Institutions & Sustainable Environments” (R.I.S.E.) Lab, which examines how communicative practices enable resilience and sustainability in a variety of organizations, ranging from for-profit companies to nonprofits, religious organizations to purpose-driven consultancies, government agencies to institutions of higher education. Learn more about the RISE Lab at www.rahulmitraphd.com.

Select Grants:

Great Lakes Protection Fund. Co-I (2019). “Smart Management of Microplastic Pollution in the Great Lakes.” $929,000 (Proposal #1151).

Waterhouse Family Institute. Lead PI. (2018). “Public Sense-making of Sustainable Water Access in Urban Communities: “Uneasy” Story-telling and Story-making through Collaborative Transmedia Ethnography.” $10,000 (Grant #18190054).

WSU Presidents Research Enhancement Program (REP) Arts & Humanities. Lead PI. (2018). “Public Sense-making of Sustainable Water Access in Urban Communities” $33,445.

WSU Dean’s Creative/Research Grant, College of Fine, Performing & Communication Arts. PI. (2018). “Organizing/Communicating for Urban Sustainability: The Detroit Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.” $5,000.

WSU Dean’s Creative/Research Grant, College of Fine, Performing & Communication Arts. PI. (2014). “Communicative complexities of ‘Integrated Arctic Management’: Environmental resource management and development in Alaska.” $7,000.

Select Awards:

2020 Stephen P. Depoe Book Chapter Award in Environmental Communication, National Communication Association.

2018 Brock Research Award, Department of Communication, Wayne State University.

2018 Linda L. Putnam Early Career Scholar Award, Organizational Communication, International Communication Association.

2018, 2014 Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, Wayne State University.

2016-2017 Faculty Fellow, “Next Generation” Humanities Faculty Mentoring Fellowship Team, Wayne State University. ($2,500 awarded)

2016 Resident Scholar. Humanities Center, Wayne State University (Winter and Spring-Summer 2016 semesters).

Degrees and Certifications

Ph.D. - Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (August 2013), Major area of study: Organizational Communication

M.A. - Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH (August 2009). Major area of study: Organizational Communication/ Public Relations

Postgraduate Diploma - Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, India (May 2004), Major area of study: Print Journalism

B.Sc. - University of Calcutta, at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India (May 2003), Major area of study: Economics (Honors)

Recent Publications


McDonald, J., & Mitra, R. (Eds.). (2019). Movements in organizational communication research: Current issues and future directions. New York: Routledge.

Select Journal Articles:

Stephens, K.K., Jahn, J., Fox, S., Charoensap-Kelly, P., Mitra, R., Waters, E., Xie, B., & Meisenbach, R. (2020). Radically changing work as we know it: Organizational scholars contributing to our future by collectively sensemaking around COVID-19. Management Communication Quarterly, 34, 426-457. doi:10.1177/0893318920934890

Bres, L., Mosonyi, S., Gond, J-P., Muzio, D., Mitra, R., Werr, A., & Wickert, C. (2019). Rethinking professionalization: A generative dialogue on CSR practitioners. Journal of Professions and Organization, 6, 246-264. doi:10.1093/jpo/joz009

Mitra, R. (2018). Natural resource management in the U.S. Arctic: Sustainable organizing through communicative practices. Management Communication Quarterly, 32, 398-430. doi:10.1177/0893318918755971

Mitra, R. (2018). Communicative management of tensions by multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) for water resilience. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 23, 257-273. doi:10.1108/CCIJ-04-2017-0041

Mitra, R., & Buzzanell, P.M. (2017). Communicative tensions of meaningful work: The case of sustainability practitioners. Human Relations, 70, 594-616. doi: 10.1177/0018726716663288

Mitra, R. (2016). Re-Constituting “America”: The clean energy economy ventriloquized. Environmental Communication, 10, 269-288. doi: 10.1080/17524032.2015.1047885

Selected Book Chapters:

Mitra, R. (2020). Organizing for sustainability: Including and engaging diverse stakeholders. In M.L. Doerfel, & J.L. Gibbs, (Eds.), Organizing inclusion: Moving diversity from demographics to communication processes (pp. 180-199). New York: Routledge.

Mesmer, K., Aniss, M., & Mitra, R. (2020). Naturalizing environmental injustice: How privileged residents make sense of Detroit’s water shutoffs. In C. Schmitt, C.S. Thomas, & T.R. Castor (Eds.)., Water, rhetoric and social justice: A critical confluence (pp. 149-170). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Mitra, R. (2019). Online performances of expertise by sustainability practitioners: Tracing communicative episodes of professional (de)legitimization. In A.S. Ross, & D.J. Rivers (Eds.), Discourses of (de)legitimization: Participatory culture in digital contexts (pp. 83-99). New York: Routledge.


Office Location

541 Manoogian Hall

Homepage URL


Primary E-mail


Twitter Link


Research Description

Sustainability, corporate social responsibility, leadership, career and meaningful work, and immigrant workers.

Affiliated Departments