Opening Session

Engaging the Verbs of Social Justice as We Trace Our Legacies and Our Relevance

November 16, 2017 • Dalls, TX
Amber Lauren Johnson, Saint Louis University
Godz Eyelands, Poet
Edward Mabrey, Poet
Imani Cezanne, Poet
Javon Johnson, San Francisco State University
Benny LeMaster, California State University, Long Beach
Miranda Olzman, San Francisco State University
Dana L. Cloud, Syracuse University
Patricia A. Suchy, Louisiana State University
Julie-Ann Scott, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Jeffrey Q. McCune, Washington University

The Opening Session of the National Communication Association will feature an interactive panel of communication scholars and poets who do work around social identity, difference, performance poetry, and embodied learning as communication praxis. In this opening session, the audience will be called to participate in interactive and imaginative ways, blurring the boundaries between audience, participant, artist, and academic, and engaging what D. Soyini Madison calls a "performance of possibilities." The invited panelists and poets will use poetry and aesthetic responses to ask each other and the audience to think critically about the legacies we carry forward with us, who those legacies belong to, how they potentially impact our futures, and what we must invent to critically imagine new futures and remain relevant. The invited participants are from different levels of experience and at different levels of their career because all too often people are excluded from legacy conversations. This panel bridges together the missing legacies that make our discipline and our bodies relevant beyond the academy.

Putting Bodies on the Line and Words into Action - Celebrating the Joys of, Challenges in, and Opportunities for Civic Engagement

November 10, 2016 • Philadelphia, PA
Lisa A. Flores, University of Colorado, Boulder
Bryant Keith Alexander, Loyola Marymount University
Mohan Dutta, National University of Singapore
Billie Murray, Villanova University

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Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander has built a career thinking about and embracing queer black bodies moving through the vectors of racism and homophobia; Dr. Mohan Jyoti Dutta has spent the past decade advocating for health care justice in developing nations; Dr. Billie Murray has chronicled her participation in movements for social justice in the wake of Confederate memorializing and in the face of hate speech. A Dean, a Chair, and an Assistant Professor; a colleague from LA, another from Singapore, a third from Philadelphia. While our speakers embody diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and methodology and area expertise, they are united in their commitment to using communication activism for the common good. Come hear their stories from the front lines of change; listen as they engage in spirited dialogue about why communication matters, and how, and to whom; and please lend your voice to our collective celebration of those who put their bodies on the line and words into action.

Beyond the Tower - Embracing Opportunities for Creative Education, Engagement, and Empowerment

November 19, 2015 • Las Vegas, NV
Jimmie Manning, Northern Illinois University
Adam C. Earnheardt, Youngstown State University
Andre E. Johnson, Memphis Theological Seminary
Amy K. Kilgard, San Francisco State University
Lisa M. Tillmann, Rollins College

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Extending from our convention theme, "Embracing Opportunities," the 2015 NCA Opening Session will highlight creative and collaborative ways in which we can "embrace opportunities," as educators, scholars, and citizens, for engaging in scholarly activity beyond traditional outlets or forums-such as documentaries, performances, TED-like talks, academic blogs, etc. The session will include brief introductions to and displays of short excerpts from panelists' work as well as discussions of issues such as how panelists got started, how such scholarly activity gets accomplished, how they promote it to others in the academy, how it "counts" in terms of work load and merit reviews, how such forms of scholarly activity can enable our discipline to impact others beyond the academy, and how engaging in these forums or outlets have been valuable and meaningful experiences for our panelists. The session will also include opportunities for interaction with attendees as they pose questions through live tweeting and index card questions.

The Future(s) of Communication Studies: For What? And For Whom?

November 20, 2014 • Chicago, IL
Shawn D. Long, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Karma R. Chavez, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Bruce Henderson, Ithaca College
Roseann M. Mandziuk, Texas State University
Kimberly R. Moffitt, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Charles E. Morris III, Syracuse University
Kent A. Ono, University of Utah

Due to unforeseen technical issues, a video of this session is unavailable. An extension session took place in 2015.

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NCA's centennial offers us many opportunities-to reminisce, to celebrate, and to acknowledge the successes that have allowed this once-tiny group of seventeen to grow into an organization of some 7,500. The centennial also prompts a serious, even critical, contemplation of who and what we have become as an association of scholars, teachers, and colleagues. Such consideration should be accompanied as well by thinking hard and speaking honestly about our collective future(s).

We pride ourselves in NCA on being a forward-thinking organization, hospitable to new ideas and new members, and accommodating of the many differences that can be an endless source of inspiration and invention. But just how hospitable and accommodating have our field and our association been? How have we understood the many differences among us? At two extremes, have we treated differences as a foundation of intellectual and pedagogical strength or as aggravating breaches of the way things are? Some aspects of our past and present might suggest the latter as much as the former. What if we were to ask not only what made the NCA caucuses possible, but also to ask what made them necessary? We could also put the questions: Are they still necessary, and if so, why? We might ask too: Are we merely tolerant of differences, or do we embrace them? And to the extent that the indicators lean more toward mere tolerance, how are our scholarship, our pedagogy, and indeed our association (predicated in our commitments to one another) affected? In such an interrogation, if we find ourselves to be wanting, what can we do about it? How can-and will-NCA be an organization for all of its members?

NCA Presents the Capitol Steps

November 21, 2013 • Washington, DC
Olga I. Davis, Arizona State University
Mary E. Stuckey, Georgia State University

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The Capitol Steps troupe performed their current show. Dr. Olga Davis of Arizona State University and Dr. Mary Stuckey of Georgia State University interviewed the performers following the performance. Questions included: how the troupe's creative process develops, both individually and as a group; what decisions concerning representation must be made in the process of bringing the show to fruition; what sorts of legal issues such performances pose; what audience responses-both positive and negative-have told them about their choices; and the advantages and disadvantages of satire as a communicative strategy.

Celebrating What Unites Us as a Communication Community

November 15, 2012 • Orlando, FL
Kory Floyd, Arizona State University
Navita Cummings James, University of South Florida
Kathleen Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania

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The opening general session offered views by three distinguished NCA scholars in response to the question: "What concepts and principles unite us in our study and application of human communication?"

Rebuilding Community After Crisis

November 17, 2011 • New Orleans, LA
Jim Pate, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
Andrew Shahan, Arise Academy
Larry Frey, Trinity University

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The NCA Opening Session: Rebuilding Community After Crisis featured speakers from inside and outside of the academy. The speakers this year will focus on the convention theme, Voice, discussing both its theoretical and applied implications.

The State of the Discipline

November 14, 2010 • San Francisco, CA
David Zarefsky, Northwestern University

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In some respects these are encouraging times for the communication discipline; yet we also are plagued by disciplinary as well as economic anxieties. This paradox offers opportunities for advancing the discipline, but also presents us with significant challenges. Within this framework, the address will discuss whether it is sensible to think of communication as a discipline and, if so, how we should determine its agenda for the coming years. We must make sure that we refresh our roots at the same time we encourage many flowers to bloom.