A preconference is either a half- or full-day session held on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. Preconferences are intended as an opportunity for scholars to take a “deep dive” into a particular topic of significance to a community of scholars within and across interest groups, offering an enhanced exploration of a topic that may not otherwise garner significant attention during the main convention. To view more information about the offered preconferences, please visit NCA Convention Central.

PC01: "Yet with a Steady Beat": Creating and Sustaining the African American Public Address Tradition
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center


Chair: Andre E. Johnson, University of Memphis
Co-Chair: Dianna Watkins- Dickerson, University of Memphis

Description: Foner and Branham in their important anthology of African American speeches "Lift Every Voice," wrote that oratory "remains a pervasive and important practice in American political and social life." They argued that "oratory is still the basic tool of organizing, the crown of ceremonial observance, the currency of advocacy and deliberation." For them, oratory helps to identify "group interests" and helps those groups "mobilize for action." It is through oratory; they argued that "profound differences may be understood and "grievances and dissent may be brought face-¬to-¬face with audiences responsible for injustice" (1). This is no truer than within the African American rhetorical tradition. Since before the founding of this country, African American's use of oratory and public address has been paramount to their survival in a country that has consistently deemed them second class citizens. Through powerful sermons, speeches, and spoken word performances, African Americans have not only been able to comfort and encourage their own communities but also cast a vision of what America could become. The proposed conference seeks to highlight this tradition. We are interested in papers that examine any aspect of the African American oratorical tradition. Not only will participants interrogate the meaning and makeup of the tradition, but we will also consider the different historical periods and figures, theoretical frameworks, pulpit oratory, spoken word, the role of archival or digital research and explore new and innovated ways to move forward.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC02: From surviving to thriving: The politics, possibilities, and challenges of teaching communication across disciplines 
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Joanna Bartell, University of South Florida
Co-Chairs: Patrice Buzzanell, University of South Florida; Juliane Mora, Gonzaga University; April Kedrowicz, North Carolina State University; Summer Cunningham, State University of New York, Oneonta; Sarah McGhee, Association of American Medical Colleges; Sheila Gobes-Ryan, University of South Florida

Description: Employers of all types increasingly recognize the value of communication training, actively seeking to hire those with excellent written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills. Communication training is essential to the professional survival of businesses and their employees, and in some cases the literal survival of patients and victims. As this recognition has gained momentum, so, too, has the demand for academic communication training across disciplines. Some disciplines, such as business, have long valued and incorporated communication theory and practice into their curricula; other disciplines, such as medicine (LCME/AGCME) and engineering (ABET), have recently revamped their accreditation and certification requirements to include communication proficiency requirements. The increased demand for communication expertise presents a host of opportunities and challenges, for both the field of communication and those who teach communication across disciplines. This preconference session discusses the theoretical and applied structures for accomplishing this goal; and the institutional, political, and interprofessional perspectives faculty routinely address. The session also provides a space for scholars to discuss how to navigate, survive, and thrive in both familiar and less-familiar academic and alt-ac landscapes.

The preconference will develop discussion across four topics:

The Politics of Instruction Across Disciplinary Borders: The politics of teaching communication across disciplinary borders often dictates how communication is taught in non-communication disciplines, what kind of communication theories and practices are welcomed and included, and how the field of communication is understood and defined by non-comm disciplines and educators?

Models of Cross-Disciplinary Communication Training - Teaching communication across disciplines can be accomplished through communication intensive courses, communication across the curriculum initiatives, and discipline specific communication programs, each with particular benefits and challenges. Formats might include faculty development and training, and/or an integrated/distributed model of instruction delivered by communication faculty or instructors. We invite discussion around the following questions: How is communication training delivered at various institutions and in various disciplines? What are current “best practices” for teaching communication in business, medicine and health sciences (medicine, nursing, and other health professions), engineering, design, etc? How might we reimagine interdisciplinary collaboration to enhance the delivery of communication instruction to non-communication majors? How can we promote not only professional competencies, but also civic development, and academic success? How do we know if cross-disciplinary communication training is successful?

Theories and Practices - Here, participants are asked to discuss the types of communication theories and practices that students across disciplines might benefit most from, especially considering the limited amount of time that communication professors teaching in cross-disciplinary contexts often have with students.

Definitions, Challenges, and Possibilities - Those outside of the field of communication are often eager to define what "communication" is, and what the discipline entails. Narrow definitions and misunderstandings of what the field of communication is and what it does creates barriers and hampers the progress and success of communication scholars, communication programs, and collaborative efforts between fields and departments. How can communication scholars teaching across disciplines or engaging in communication work across fields, work within these contexts to shape and perpetuate robust definitions and understandings of communication that allow for fuller, richer, and deeper engagement with the foundations and tools that communication training offers?

Panelists will prepare and present their topics in PechaKucha/20x20 format (for more information on what this is, visit 20-minute discussion sessions will occur between panels.


  • Call for Presenters: If you wish to present at the preconference, submit a 250 word (maximum) abstract to Joanna Bartell ( no later than October 4th discussing your topic and its alignment with one of the four topics above. There are 12 presentation spaces available.
  • Call for Attendees: If you wish to attend only, please send a short statement of interest (100 words max) to Joanna Bartell ( no later than November 1st. Attendees will be encouraged to participate in discussions between panels, but will not present.


PC03: Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk: The What, Why, and How of (More) Effective Presentations at the NCA Annual Convention
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Dennis Becker, Speech Improvement Co.
Co-Chair: Piyawan Charoensap-Kelly, University of Alabama, Huntsville

Description: You know you have sat through them: seemingly-endless conference sessions with one mind-numbing academic presentation after another. Have you ever wondered if other divisions face the same issue? Does this familiar albeit less desirable method of delivery merit a re-evaluation? How is this practice affecting us as a leading professional organization in the communication field? What can be done about this issue by the presenters themselves, their institutions, and the NCA divisions, individually or collectively?

In this half-day preconference, we aim to 1) raise an awareness that there is a need to improve the quality of NCA conference presentations; 2) demonstrate that ineffective delivery stems from multifaceted causes; and 3) offer multi-level strategies and programs to enhance the quality of presentations. This preconference is organized by the NCA Training and Development Division Blue Ribbon Task Force on Effective Delivery in collaboration with the Family Communication Division, the Communication Centers Division, and the National State Advisory Council. Through brainstorming activities, skills training, and open discussions, the preconference will address three major themes:

1. Needs: What are the needs and why is it important to change the way we deliver our NCA conference presentations?
2. Causes: What factors contribute to ineffective NCA conference presentations?
3. Solutions: How can we improve the overall quality of NCA conference presentations?

Participants will hear from a range of presenters, each of whom has considerable learning and development as well as leadership experience at NCA. In a fun and invitational communication atmosphere, there will be ample space for informal and formal discussions and idea generation. The preconference will end with small group discussions followed by a summary of major ideas generated throughout the session, enabling participants to leave with a customized plan of action for moving forward.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC04: Getting Results that Survive: Improving Communication Science
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Bree L. McEwan, DePaul University
Co-Chair: Catherine Kingsley Westerman, North Dakota State University

Description: Communication science requires systematic and reproducible approaches in order to produce a useful corpus of knowledge. This pre-conference will articulate current concerns in scientific approaches to communication scholarship and consider practices that may alleviate those concerns. Open science approaches and other practices that provide transparency, robustness, and reproducibility of knowledge regarding communication processes will be discussed.  Registrants will have the opportunity to engage with expert panelists throughout the day as well as contribute to discussion groups to outline future goals and plans to continue refining scientific approaches to the study of human communication.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC05: Communicating about and for Survival:  Pre-conference Workshop for Emerging Crisis Communication Researchers
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: W. Timothy Coombs, Texas A&M University
Co-Chair: Sherry J. Holladay, Texas A&M University

Description: Crisis communication is a topic that spans many of the NCA divisions and fits well with the conference theme "Communication for Survival."  The workshop leadership for this session come from the Organizational Communication, Public Relations, and Sports Communication Divisions.   Crisis communication includes a focus on what is said and done by crisis managers, and other crisis voices, during a crisis event. Such communicative actions help to protect people physically and to help people cope psychologically with a crisis-crisis communication helps people to survive crises. The pre-conference will be a mix of seminar and workshop.  On the seminar side, participants will learn about specific crisis communication research methods and theory building from experts in crisis communication.  The lessons will help researchers to conceptualize and future research projects.  This will include a session on submitting to journals.  On the workshop side, participants will present a research project and receive constructive feedback from senior researchers.  The goal is aid in the development of very early career crisis communication scholars (communicating about survival). Potential participants can submit abstracts of that project to be reviewed by pre-conference organizers.  Selected research papers from the session will be invited as submissions for possible inclusion in a special issue of Corporate Communication:  An International Journal.  There will be an option to participate without submitting abstract too. 

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC06: Engaging and Transforming Communication and Community Through Cultural Discourse Analysis: A Theoretical and Methodological Workshop
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Michelle Scollo, College of Mount Saint Vincent
Co-Chair: Trudy Milburn, Purchase College, SUNY

Description: Are you interested in learning a rigorous, systematic way to collect and analyze qualitative data to help groups, organizations, and communities better understand each other and effect change? This preconference focuses on a theoretical and methodological framework primed to do so, Cultural Discourse Analysis (CuDA), part of the Ethnography of Communication (EC) research program, and is for those new to CuDA and those wishing to deepen their understanding of it.

In this hands-on preconference, participants will work directly with fifteen EC scholars who have been using CuDA to generate and analyze data in organizations and communities across the world. The CuDA framework can be used to examine any kind of communication anywhere and is increasingly being used to do so in the areas of health and environmental communication, political and religious communication, migrants, policy change and program development, local strategies research and design, and social justice issues.

The preconference starts with an overview of CuDA. After this, panelists will guide participants in learning the four major modes of CuDA: descriptive, interpretive, comparative, and critical analysis. Panelists will present excerpts from their own research and guide participants in practicing in small groups how to analyze data with constructs from CuDA including: identifying communication practices, discursive hubs and radiants of meaning, formulating cultural propositions and premises, cross-cultural comparative analysis, critical analysis, and applications of CuDA to pedagogy, local strategies research and practical design interventions. Findings from the groups will be discussed, concluding with ways to apply findings to real-world challenges.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.


PC07: Surviving and Thriving Teaching Communication Online
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Suzy Prentiss, University of Tennessee
Co-Chair: Karla M. Hunter, South Dakota State University

Description: Today, more and more universities and colleges are offering online communication courses. Whether due to student interest, financial benefits, lack of campus space, or ease of delivery, online courses and degree programs are on the rise from dual enrollment high school classes to doctoral seminars and executive education.  Unlike the earlier versions of online classes that were basically face-to-face (F2F) classes accessed online, these newer courses are intentionally being created with backward course design for synchronous and asynchronous online learning environments.  This timely, value-laden and interactive preconference will explore ways to survive and thrive teaching online including best practices, creating immediacy, exploring software and learning management systems (LMS), reaching and teaching all students, developing partnerships across campus, and building connections in the online classroom.  Join us in the morning session (surviving), the afternoon session (thriving) or both ready to share ideas, engage in design thinking activities, explore new possibilities, and make connections.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC08: Theorizing the Future of Work: Communication, Technology and Automation
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Matthew Weber, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Co-Chair: Joshua B. Barbour, University of Texas, Austin

Description: The nature of work is evolving in fundamental ways. The landscape and trajectory of traditional jobs, as well as work in non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and even social movements, is changing as organizational structures and communication evolve. Despite recent research in this domain, there is still a need to consider how shifts in the sociotechnical environment impact the communication processes at play within organizations. Thus, as attention shifts to examine how information communication technologies are deployed, communication scholars are focusing on issues related to advances in artificial intelligence, automation at work, and increasing expectations of alignment and interaction between humans and technology. Communication theory and research have distinctive contributions to make in understanding and navigating the future of work. The technological and scientific progression offers an opportunity to advance fundamental communication accounts of novel and changing forms of organizing including the emergence and transformation of industries and occupations, forms of production, work-life balance, participation, the fostering and sustenance of innovation.

Advances in information communication technologies and the growth of artificial intelligence, automation at work, and increasing expectations for humans and technology partnerships have combined to create new avenues of research and theorizing. The evolution of work in tandem with the growth of information communication technology presents great opportunity, it is also clear that there are significant risks and concerns that much be addressed. For instance, automation of work and automation of routines may create or perpetuate certain hierarchies or biases in the workplace. Growing dependency on technology as a tool for organizing has implications for privacy and surveillance. Workplaces, movements, advocacy groups, and NGOs struggle with the development of appropriate policies and frameworks for engaging with new technology and new routines.

These opportunities and challenges underscore tensions between how academics, professionals and policymakers think about the role of technology in advancing modern society and the modern workplace.
This preconference will provide a space for discussing and theorizing the future of work today, and for thinking about the survival and evolution of existing organizational practices in ways that should have broad appeal for communication scholars. For example, these changes have profound implications for how we communicate about health and communicate in caregiving, how we manage our personal relationships in and out of the workplace, and how we grapple with autonomous agents in the public sphere. Likewise, media portrayals of AI, robotics, and ubiquitous, mobile, and interconnected computing shape and are shaped by macro-discursive constructions of the nature and future of work.

Requirements: The organizers invite all interested participants to join in this preconference; submissions are not required for registration. In addition, the preconference will feature opportunities for participants to share their research during a "speed poster" session. This session will provide space for participants to share work in progress, generate ideas with other participants, and get feedback on developing work.  Those interested in participating in the "speed poster" session should submit a one-page abstract describing (a) their research, (b) its relevance to the preconference theme, and (c) what they hope to contribute to and/or gain from the dialogue among scholars.  Please submit abstracts to by September 1st.

PC09: What is Survival?
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Robery Mejia, North Dakota State University

Description: Since 2016, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have warned that in the face of climate change, ongoing global epidemics, breakdown of nuclear treaties, and accelerating informational warfare, the probability of global catastrophe is very high. Confronted by this multifaceted prospect of the end, it would be all too easy and understandable to respond with despair: the future is grim. However, as the scholar and activist Sara Ahmed argues, "When a whole world is organised to promote your survival, from health to education, from the walls designed to keep your residence safe," for some, despair itself becomes a form of privileged self-care, a way of absolving one's self from any implication with and responsibility to the suffering of another. The antidote to such despair, however, cannot be naive optimism. Instead, scholars must offer an honest account of what must be done not just for humanity's survival, but of what survival even looks like, and for whom. Indeed, for marginalized communities, the existential threat to our existence predates the year 2016, as it exists in the histories and legacies of settler colonialism, neocolonialism, neoliberalism, racism, sexual violence, ableism, and more, Hence, this preconference is designed to build upon the work of Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, Stuart Hall, Kimberle Crenshaw, Dana Cloud, Kent Ono, Angharad Valdivia, Ron Jackson II, Lisa Flores, Sara Ahmed, and other scholars and activists to offer a space to gather our collective intellectual and activistic energy so as to: (1) analyze our current conjuncture; (2) imagine the kind of futures that are needed; and (3) organize to help make these futures possible.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC10: Communication for Surviving Climate Change in Coastal Communities: Environmental Communication Field Day Excursion 2019
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Off-Site, National Aquarium

Chair: Casey R. Schmitt, Gonzaga University
Co-Chair: Joanne C. Marras Tate, University of Colorado, Boulder

Description: A 2018 report from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences predicts that sea levels around the city of Baltimore could rise up to seven feet in the next 80 years. The effects of climate change on physical shorelines, temperatures, and ocean water pH balance are directly threatening human, plant, and non-human animal communities around the globe, while quibbling and equivocation in public environmental discourse inhibits the speed of responsive action. Public conversations and policy deliberations about climate change in such spaces are literal cases of "communication for survival."

This pre-conference "field day," conceived through discussions by members of NCA's Environmental Communication Division, physically takes participants to the site of coastal human and non-human communities to encounter the discourses of survival in situ and in person.
Participants will visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor and the U.S. National Aquarium, attending to policy and education discourses at play. Hearing from local educators, activists, and advocates, including representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, they will discuss the strategies and challenges at play in addressing the threats of climate change and rising sea levels. Then, within the immersive atmosphere of the Aquarium, they will venture beyond the human to engage and consider plant and animal "communication for survival," visiting the site's Dolphin Discovery center for the unprecedented opportunity to consider how intelligent sea creatures express themselves during times of threat and duress.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration. Please note, attendees will be required to pay an entrance fee for the National Aquarium the day of the preconference

PC11: Voices and Resources: Placing communication at the forefront through financial literacy, self-health management, social change and survival engagement as a muse for advocacy, implications of media scholarship and communication careers after college
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Tara Reed, Tarrant County College South
Co-Chair: Ashley R. Hall, Ithaca College

Description: Attend a full day of interactive collaboration featuring current scholars and leaders from the Black Caucus, African American Communication Culture Division and Baltimore/D.C. area. In honor of Dr. Lucia Hawthorne, who was a professor at Morgan State University and one of the Founders of the Black Caucus, the pre-conference schedule compliments the 2019 NCA Conference theme and mission of both BC/AACCD by acknowledging and illustrating ways communication can increase survivor among undergraduate/graduate and post-graduate students of color through a community-centered intervention approach that will be discussed in a sequence of five break out panels.

Panel 1: Financial Literacy: Understanding the importance of financial literacy in the Black Sphere explores and highlights ways communication can improve students engagement with financial literacy. The panel will feature experts from the Baltimore/D.C. area to explicate resources and tools for students to manage monetary resources for community empowerment and financial readiness during and after college.

Panel 2: Healthy conversations: Exploring the role of self-health management and communication explores and highlights ways students can manage their health and well-being. The panel will feature experts from the health and communication field to discuss resources, tips, and techniques for a practical engagement with health.

Panel 3: Advocacy: Placing social change and survival engagement as a muse for advocacy or communication at work explores and highlights ways communication can advocate for social change and civil engagement. This panel will recognize communication scholars and community experts that use communication as a tool for social change in Baltimore, MD.

Panel 4: Media: Representation, Media Effects, and Resource: Exploring the role and implications of media scholarship explores and highlight ways media studies impact communities of color in terms of representation, media effects, and resources used by communities of color to connect, share, and establish community identities in the digital era.

Panel 5: Careers in Communication: Being a communication enthusiast in the 21st century will highlight ways communication is a beneficial career after college and showcase current members of Black Caucus and African American Communication Culture Division through roundtable discussion on career choice in communication, personal connection to the discipline, and contributions to the field of communication.

Requirements: This preconference will not be issuing a call for participants. If you wish to attend, please register for this preconference with your NCA Annual Convention registration.

PC12: Expanding our Understanding of Family Communication: Ethnic-Racial and Global Diversity in Scholarship and Teaching
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Baltimore Convention Center

Chair: Jordan Soliz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Description: The survival and utility of an academic discipline centers in large part on the extent to which the scholarship reflects the diversity of experiences and perspectives of the communities and individuals central to the discipline. Whereas family communication scholarship has flourished over the last few decades, one of the more glaring gaps—especially compared to other disciplines—is the lack of inclusion of experiences and perspectives of ethnic-racial minorities and global diversity, in general. Not surprisingly, recent essays and special journal issues (e.g., Soliz & Phillips, 2018; Turner & West, 2018) have called for re-considering our approach to research and teaching on family communication to address this gap. Likewise, representatives from various divisions have created shared on-line resources that allow peers to be more inclusive of literatures and readings from diverse voices. While these essays, journal issues, related panels at national and regional conventions, and scholarly efforts have provided a spark to begin these discussions, enacting change necessitates more structured and dedicated opportunities for scholars to engage in discussions concerning the current state of family communication scholarship as it relates to ethnic-racial and global diversity. Moreover, the structure of our association can, at times, create academic silos where individuals interested in intersections of ethnicity, race, and family, for instance, have to choose between various divisions to present and discuss scholarship. As such, conversations across these divisions that would advance our body of scholarship rarely occur.

The goal of the pre-conference is to provide a structured space faculty and students to network, share emerging or existing bodies of research and, most importantly, engage in discussion on how to advance the state of family communication scholarship.

The half-day pre-conference will include: (a) “research roundtables” to discuss and refine current research projects related to the theme of the preconference, (b) opportunities to connect with other scholars to develop collaborative projects, and (c) various small-group breakout sessions to discuss perspectives and considerations on advancing family communication scholarship as it relates to both teaching and research.  Themes emerging from the breakout sessions and other salient issues emerging throughout the discussions will be summarized and provided to attendees and each co-sponsoring division. The goal of this summary is to provide suggestions on ways in which individuals, departments, and associations can promote and support a more inclusive approach to family communication research and teaching.

Requirements: To register for the pre-conference, please complete the registration form at: In addition to contact information, registration requires descriptions of research interests and a brief summary of the project to be discussed at the “research roundtables.” Attendees will be asked to submit an extended abstracts of these projects by October 15th. More information is available on the registration form.

Registration deadline is August 31st. However, room space is limited so please register as soon as possible. Finalized schedule and other information for the pre-conference will be sent to registered participants mid-October. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jordan Soliz at