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Making An Impact

On Campus, In the Community, Around the World

Political Science student Adam Johnson makes an impact wherever he gets involved. Between running his own nonprofit, performing research at the J Reuben Clark Law School, and volunteering on political campaigns, Adam still finds time to liven up any room with a smile and a joke. Before graduating in April 2023, he is working on finishing his thesis titled, “A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Outreach Strategies to COVID Skeptics and Its Application to Climate Skeptics,” as well as leaving a legacy of fun in the Honors Program.

Adam debuted in the realm of law while working with Professor Kirk Hawkins from the Political Science department. His role was to use team populism databases to track the levels of support for certain leaders over time. In addition to surveys, Adam rated the levels of support following speeches broadcasted through Twitter and YouTube. Since Adam collected this data, 40 different countries have used it in their own publications and research.

Working in Political Science led Adam to start researching with Professor Brigham Daniels from the J Reuben Clark Law School. With Professor Daniels, Adam created codebooks for the Ugandan government. Codebooks are a way to accurately measure survey responses. These codebooks were specifically used to measure incentives and corruption in the local governments. Working with the law professors gave Adam access to the Howard W Hunter Law Library which was essential to his research and ability to write papers.

Under the direction of Professor Daniels, Adam began working in environmental management consulting. With the nonprofit organization Conserve Utah Valley, Adam meets politicians up at the capitol and helps direct people to fight for a cause most efficiently. For example, Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon was under threat of being developed and Conserve Utah Valley worked to combat this. Currently, they are lobbying for environmental safety in regard to the restoration of Slate Canyon, farmland conservation, and the Utah Lake Restoration project. After working with the team for a while, Adam was promoted from Director of Public Outreach to Assistant Executive Director.

With major research experience under his belt, Adam dove right into a controversial thesis topic. He is trying to explore the link between how people communicate with those who are skeptical of the COVID pandemic and how those communication techniques could help with climate skeptics. The first step is to use statistics to see if there is significant overlap between the groups. Next, he will categorize the communication and outreach strategies that are used to communicate with skeptics. After determining the efficiency of the communication techniques, he will hypothesize which techniques will be most effective to communicate to both groups of skeptics. Adam plans to publish the thesis as a law review in a journal.

In February 2020, Adam used his skills from working with various nonprofits to create his own. The Small Hill Foundation was inspired by the people Adam met on his mission in Singapore and Malaysia. Identifying people in poverty and providing them access to college, scholarships, and a network of peers and professionals are the main goals of the project. Adam met numerous people on his mission that just needed a little boost to find true success in life and he was set on helping to provide that boost. As of January 2022, the Small Hill Foundation has funding for 100 students to attend college and receive their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. This gives them the opportunity to choose what they wish to be instead of being forced to work long hours in the oil fields, away from their families.

When he isn’t helping impoverished students, Adam helps lead events for Honors students as President of this year’s Honors Student Leadership Council (HSLC). This semester, he is especially excited about the annual Banquet & Ball coming up in February, as well as the Honors Conference in March. He loves the combination of scholasticism and fun in the Honors Program and is known for making wild dreams become reality in events.

Adam is truly a force of nature. After graduating in April 2023, he plans to continue management consulting to help businesses solve problems ranging from why they can't find people to hire to how to increase revenue. After gaining some experience, he’ll go back to school to work towards a JD or MBA to break into political consulting. He married his beautiful wife, Deveney, last month and together they enjoy snowboarding, eating lots of Panda Express, and rock climbing. You can catch Adam playing intramural soccer every possible season as well. Don't miss your chance to get to know him at the next Honors event!