Paul Arntson received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in Communication Arts with a minor in Educational Psychology. He joined the Communication Studies Department in 1974 and was the chair for six years. He is on the faculty of the Asset Based Community Development Institute at the Institute for Policy Research and a Fellow at the Center for Communication and Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He is a member of the General Faculty Committee and was elected to serve as its chair.
Professor Arntson has conducted research and training programs in British, Australian, and American primary care contexts, with self help groups, and with neighborhood associations in order to improve citizens’ decision making competencies concerning their health and the well-being of their communities.
His research includes understanding how pediatric cancer survivors and their parents communicate about their cancer experiences, investigating how to improve communication between primary care providers and deaf patients, evaluating community living options for adults with disabilities, and documenting how community based organizations contribute to the well-being of their neighborhoods . He is also part of an NIH grant studying how families can make informed decisions concerning fertility options when their daughters are diagnosed with having cancer.
Professor Arntson teaches leadership and decision-making courses at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level in the Masters of Manufacturing Management program, in the Managerial Communication Masters program, and in the PhD program. Through a Ford Foundation Grant on Difficult Dialogues he developed and hosts a first year seminar on how to discuss issues of identity, diversity, and religion. He previously held the Van Zelt Chair in Communication Research and the first Alumnae of Northwestern Teaching Professorship.
Professor Arntson was the founder and then director of Northwestern University’s Undergraduate Leadership Program for 12 years. He is also the founding coordinator of Northwestern University’s Public Interest Program that places graduating seniors in public interest fellowships each year. He teaches in the Certificate for Service Learning Program and co-directs the capstone community projects. He also teaches in the Center for Global Engagement and works with groups of students in Africa, India, and Argentina each summer. He recently helped establish the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University.
He has lived in Evanston for the past 35 years with his wife Martha, who is the director of the Childcare Network of Evanston. Professor Arntson works with leadership and community engagement organizations in Evanston, Chicago, and around the world.