Mid-Career Scholars' Writing Retreat

The NCA 2024 Mid-Career Scholars' Writing Retreat (MSWR) is being held July 22nd to July 26th at Auburn University, Auburn, AL. Hosted by the AU School of Communication & Journalism, the MSWR is designed to provide retreat participants with intensive writing time centered on the completion of scholarship and/or a creative project. The goal of the retreat is to provide the time and space for participants to make significant progress toward completing an in-progress project to help facilitate promotion to Full Professor. The MSWR is specifically targeted to faculty who have been Associate Professor for at least 5 years (that is, tenured in 2017-2018 or prior). 

Participants will work with mentors Wendy Atkins-Sayre (University of Memphis) and Lijiang Shen (The Pennsylvania State University). Drawing on their unique research backgrounds and extensive publishing and grant-writing experience, they will aid retreat participants as they work to identify and map prospective opportunities to support their goals, address professional challenges at the institutional, departmental, and individual levels, and assist in the completion of a significant project designed to begin the forward moment to reach the next level in their respective careers. 

As with previous retreats, “applications reflecting the total diversity of scholarship and creative activity in the discipline are strongly encouraged.  Applicants are not limited by area of inquiry, topic, method, or affiliation (interest group, division, etc.). Because the facilitators will focus on broad writing guidance and professional development, it is not necessary that projects be related to the facilitators’ own research foci.” 

The MSWR is sponsored by NCA and organized by the NCA Research Council. 

Participants are expected to present their projects on a panel at the 2025 NCA Convention in Denver, CO.  

Eligibility Requirements 

Space is limited. Attendees must be a member of NCA, be full-time academics, held the rank of Associate Professor for at least five years, have the ability to attend the full week of scheduled events, and have an in-progress writing project.  


In a word document, please answer each of the following questions and submit the completed application to worthdl@auburn.edu by June 1st, 2024. Only complete applications will be considered.  

  1. Applicant Name, Rank, Email/Contact Information. 
  2. If you have previously attended a writing retreat, please briefly describe your experience (i.e., what you found particularly helpful, what would you suggest changing) (100-150 words). 
  3. The retreat focuses on working on an in-progress project. Please briefly summarize the project you currently plan to work on (150-250 words).  
  4. Why are you interested in attending this writing retreat? In 250-500 words, how would attendance benefit you? 
  5. Is there any additional information you would like to share (e.g., special circumstances or accommodation)? (100-150 words) 
  6. Include a current CV when submitting your application. 

MCSWR Mentors 

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Wendy Atkins-Sayre 

Wendy Atkins-Sayre (PhD, University of Georgia) is Professor of Communication Studies and Chair of the Department of Communication & Film at the University of Memphis.  Her research centers on identity as constructed through discourse, with an emphasis on regional and social movement studies.  Her most recent book, co-authored with Ashli Stokes, is Hungry Roots: How Food Communicates Appalachia’s Search for Resilience (University of South Carolina Press). Previously, she and Stokes wrote Consuming Identity: The Role of Food in Redefining the South (University Press of Mississippi). She has also co-edited with Ashli Stokes, City Places, Country Spaces: Rhetorical Explorations of the Urban/Rural Divide (Peter Lang). Her essays have appeared in Western Journal of Communication, Southern Communication Journal, Public Relations Inquiry, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, and Women & Language, as well as numerous edited volumes.  She has also published on communication pedagogy, co-editing  (with Esther Lee Yook) two books: Communicating Advice: Peer Tutoring and Communication Practice and Communication Centers and Oral Communication Programs in Higher Education.     


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Lijiang Shen  

Lijiang Shen (Ph.D., UW-Madison, 2005) is a Professor at Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State. He was an assistant and then associate professor at the Department of Communication Studies at University of Georgia before he joined Penn State in 2015. His primary research interests and aspirations have been testing and developing normative theories in the context of health communication, persuasion, and media effects in general. His research studies address causal inference in communication processes for the purpose of theory testing and development, especially in boundary conditions. Griffin et al. (2018, Communication Education) ranked him as among the top 1% most prolific scholars in central communication journals 2012-16. He is the current editor-in-chief of Communication Methods and Measures (2012-2026).  


Retreat Coordinator  


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Debra Worthington (Ph.D, University of Kansas) is Professor and Director of the School of Communication & Journalism at Auburn University. Her current research interests center on listening processes and measurement. Recent co-authored and co-edited books include Listening: Processes, Functions and Competency (3rd ed), Listening, Community Engagement, and Peacebuilding: International Perspectives, The Handbook of Listening, and The Sourcebook of Listening Research: Methodology and Measures.