Jenkins to Discuss Role Soap Operas Play Outside US | Webster University

Jenkins to Discuss Role Soap Operas Play Outside US

“Soap Operas, Latent and Manifest Messages for Public Health” part of School of Communications Focus on Faculty Brown Bag Series

Unlike in the US where soap operas are often presented as melodramatic and superficial, they serve a crucial role in the rest of the world. Soap operas are a prime delivery system for public health messages. In this Brown Bag presentation, Kit Jenkins, interim associate dean and professor of media communications in the School of Communications (SOC), will discuss her research and provide examples that may change the way attendees think about soap operas.

On her faculty development leave in spring 2012, Jenkins researched the topic “Soap Operas for Public Health.” She will present her findings in “Soap Operas, Latent and Manifest Messages for Public Health,” on Thursday, April 18 at noon in the University Center Presentation Room. More information about the event is included in an April 15 Webster Today blog post. 

Jenkins has been researching “Communicating with People Who Don't Read” since 2000 when she applied for and received a faculty research grant from Webster University. As part of her research, she traveled to Jamaica where she recorded and studied radio soap operas. She also traveled to South Africa where she visited a television station that has since become the Soul City Institute for Health & Development Communication. It produces media to educate consumers and influence health-related behaviors.

Berl Francis, a public relations professional who lives in Jamaica, introduced Jenkins introduced to the concept of alternative media as a way to communicate with people who don't read. Jenkins and Francis met through the professional organization, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Francis taught online and in the classroom for the SOC from 2001 until 2004 when a series of hurricanes knocked out electricity to over 70 percent of the island of Jamaica.

The Webster University School of Communications prepares students in three academic departments to excel as skilled professionals in the global communications field. The School provides a hands-on approach to learning that is grounded in the University's liberal arts foundation and commitment to global education. Sixteen undergraduate programs, five graduate degree programs and 12 minors cover the wide array of communications specialties and are taught by faculty who are theorists, artists, and practitioners. Students work with professional-grade media equipment, take courses at Webster's U.S., European and Asian campuses, participate in robust field experiences and internships, and, along with faculty and alumni, are routinely recognized for their professional accomplishments.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University ( is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses. Founded in 1915, Webster University's campus network today includes metropolitan, military, online and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe and North America. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.