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About The Waterhouse Family Institute

Who We Are

The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI) — housed within Villanova University’s Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — emphasizes the vital role of communication in the creation of a more just world. In this way, it reflects Villanova University’s mission, and its invitation to “Ignite Change. Go Nova.” By viewing communication in these terms, the WFI challenges students, scholars, and professionals to reflect upon the kind of social worlds worth having — and the role of communication, as a discipline and practice, in giving them life.

Established in October 2010 through a generous gift of $3 million from Villanova University alumnus Lawrence Waterhouse Jr., ’59 A&S, founder and chairman emeritus of Waterhouse Investor Services, Inc., the WFI embodies a central emphasis of Villanova University’s Department of Communication, and of Villanova University as a whole -- the emphasis upon communication as itself intrinsically ethical, and as central to the creation of a more just world.

In September, 2020, the WFI was the focus of Villanova's 1842 Day Challenge. Thanks to the generous donations of nearly 8,000 individual donors, the WFI unlocked a $1 million gift, bringing the Institute's total endowment above $4 million.


What We Do

Sponsor events connecting scholars and professionals

Each year, the WFI sponsors at least one significant event at Villanova’s campus, which brings together renowned scholars and professionals from across the world. Each event has a different central theme, but share a common goal: to create new connections and conversations among and between scholars and professionals in communication. Through such events, the WFI helps reshape current thought and practice about communication as central to social change and social justice. Click on the “Symposia and Events” link on the left to learn more.

Sponsor student-centered projects and activities

The WFI supports projects and activities that challenge students to take seriously their responsibility for their communities, whether local and global. Some of these projects are centered at Villanova, while others create collaborations between students at universities across the United States. For example, housed within the WFI is Villanova’s Center for Social Justice Film, which has led to the creation of a series of award-winning, acclaimed student documentaries on matters of social justice. The WFI also sponsors Villanova’s unique WFI Internship Program, which makes it possible for Villanova students to spend a semester in Rome, working at the Vatican (and Vatican-related offices) and at the United Nations’ IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development). Click on the “Student Activities” link on the left to learn more about these, and other, activities sponsored by the WFI.

Fund innovative scholarly research


Each year, the WFI funds research projects demonstrating the important and complex interconnections between communication and social change. Again emphasizing the unique and collaborative focus of the WFI, this funding is available to those both inside and outside Villanova. In addition to the annual call for WFI Research Grants, the WFI also collaborates with allied groups to award communication scholars and professionals making unique contributions to our understanding and practice of communication. Click on the “Research Projects” link on the left to learn more about past funding recipients, and about the opportunities for receiving support from the WFI.

WFI Villanova magazine article
Click below to read stories about the WFI and its launch from Villanova magazine.
* VillanovaMag_WFIwebsite.pdf
Villanova Magazine article on WFI
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