Karen is Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication. She is a discourse analyst who studies problems in justice-, education-, and governance-linked institutions. Through close study of talk in combination with interviews of participants, and analysis of documents (e.g., minutes, web pages, legal opinions) in particular practices, she seeks to build a picture of participants' problems and dilemmas, the discourse strategies they use, and their ideals of good conduct. Her past research has focused on academic colloquia, school board meetings, and exchanges between citizens and police call-takers. She is the author of Challenges of Ordinary Democracy: A Case Study in Deliberation and Dissent, Colloquium: Dilemmas of Academic Discourse and Everyday Talk: Building and Reflecting Identities. Karen has received two lifetime achievement awards. She is a Distinguished Scholar in the National Communication Association, and a Fellow in the International Communication Association. Karen is currently at work on a book analyzing oral argument in state supreme courts and judicial committee hearings in legislative bodies as they debate who should be able to marry.
In teaching, Karen's classes explore links between everyday talk and identities, the practice and problems of meetings, and communication in the justice system. She also teaches discourse analysis and other research methods. In the graduate program she is part of the Discourse & Society emphasis. Her favorite part of teaching is the individual mentoring she gets to do with students.
Karen lives with her husband, Bob Craig, and their two dogs, Ginger and Dorado. She grew up in Philadelphia and has family members who live there and in Virginia. Karen volunteers as a mediator in small claims court and is part of a book club. For fun she reads mysteries, watches police and legal thrillers, plays with her dogs, and jazzercises.