NCA Inside & Out

NCA Convention Artwork

NCA Hosts 102nd Annual Convention in Philadelphia

December 6, 2016

On the day of the presidential election, NCA members began arriving in Philadelphia excited and prepared to speak to the numerous applications of “Communication’s Civic Callings.” Communication scholars filled the hallways, lounges, and rooms of the hotel for pre-conferences, impromptu conversations, and business meetings, with a focus on tackling issues of social justice and civic engagement.

Given the timing of the presidential election, there couldn’t have been a more appropriately themed Convention, as organized by First Vice President Stephen J. Hartnett. The Opening Session, “Putting Bodies on the Line and Words into Action - Celebrating the Joys of, Challenges in, and Opportunities for Civic Engagement,” kicked off four days of ideas, collaboration, and activism. Presenters Bryant Keith Alexander of Loyola Marymount University, Mohan Dutta of the National University of Singapore, and Billie Murray of Villanova University set the tone for spirited and inspired dialogue about applying Communication best practices to issues of race and ethnicity, gender sexuality, health care, and more – to the backdrop of a spontaneous “die-in” demonstration by several NCA attendees, who later participated in protests a few blocks away at City Hall.

On Friday, November 11, dozens of scholars and local nonprofit and advocacy groups met for the first NCA Social Justice Exchange, an informal and open exchange of ideas organized by Bryan Crable of Villanova. The gathering was designed to further the notion of blending scholarship and activism to bring the Communication discipline to the forefront of important issues such as immigration, health care, the environment, gender and identity, race, and more. Local media, including CBS Philly and Philly Weekly, spoke with several of the participants, who left energized and ready to take action in the academy and in their communities.

Continuing in the theme of social justice, Kirt H. Wilson of The Pennsylvania State University presented this year’s Carroll C. Arnold Lecture, “Dreams of Union, Days of Conflict: Communicating Social Justice and Civil Rights Memory in the Age of Barack Obama.” Wilson analyzed the collective memory of the civil rights movement and how we continue to frame past and present narratives of white and black race relations.

On the final evening of the Convention, before presenting this year’s NCA awards, President Christie Beck addressed members on the topic of “Pursuing Possibilities,” exploring how our personal and professional narratives intersect, and how the Communication discipline could and should be at the forefront of making a difference, especially within the anti-bullying movement. Beck asked NCA members to consider how we can become a more prominent part of public narratives, and make our research and scholarship more accessible to those who seek connectedness and civility.

The Convention also featured a Graduate School Open House, Exhibit Hall, NCA Job Fair, and more than 1,200 sessions and business meetings designed to allow attendees to share ideas, present new research, and network with colleagues across the discipline.

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s Convention! For more information, visit