Chairs' Institute

September 26, 2023



The past, present, and future of the Communication discipline’s foundational course (i.e. “Basic Course”) is the subject of this year’s department Chairs’ Institute, being held one-time only as a full-day preconference event on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Titled “The Future, Present, and Past of the Foundational Course for Department Chairs: On the 10th Anniversary of the Basic Course Task Force,” this year’s Chairs’ Institute will assess what has changed since 2013 (e.g. IDEA, technology, and more!), what hasn’t changed, what the foundational course’s role is now, and where foundational courses are going in the future. Earlier this year, the NCA’s Legislative Assembly passed a resolution about the foundational course being key and core to university curricula.

The Chairs’ Institute will consist of five sessions; the first four tracking the final report of the 2013 Basic Course Task Force. Each session’s panel will include multiple panelists with diverse experiences and viewpoints, and audience participation will be key to the day’s success.

The first session will focus on the foundational course’s role on campus: how it’s changed in the last 10 years, and how it could or should change in the future, whether as a part of the core curriculum or not. Panelists also will address how advocacy for the foundational course has been changing, a precursor to the fifth session focusing on the future and NCA’s April resolution. The keynote speaker and first session’s moderator will be Steve Beebe (emeritus, Texas State University), the former NCA president who appointed the 2013 task forces. 

The second session will focus on the foundational course’s role in the discipline, which includes NCA’s Basic Course Division, an annual research book, a biannual course at the Eastern Communication Association conference, numerous textbooks, and more. Panelists will discuss the core competencies recommended by the 2013 Task Force, and current and likely future trends in the foundational course’s content. The moderator/panelist will be Jennifer Waldeck, University of Georgia. 

The third session will cover foundational course instructors’ responsibilities and expectations, resources and professional life, critical considerations under any circumstances but especially when most instructors are adjuncts, graduate students, and new assistant professors. The panel will discuss recent and current trends in training and other preparation, supervision and more of foundational course instructors. Topics of interest include the foundational course instructor’s situation for tenure/promotion, research/travels, influence on the course and in the department, etc. The moderator/panelist will be Cheri J. Simonds, Illinois State University.

The fourth session will focus on research that has been conducted on the foundational course, course assessment, and their impacts on instructors—in training and otherwise. Panelists will discuss training programs for foundational course instructors, past and current changes in course assessment, what research in the past 10 years has told us about the foundational course, and more. The moderator/panelist is Joe Valenzano, Butler University.

The fifth session will be about implementing NCA’s “Resolution Supporting the Inclusion of the Foundational Communication Course in U.S. College and University Core Requirements” and other future-facing goals and issues. The moderator/panelist for this session is TBD.

Participants will be asked to read, before attending the Chairs’ Institute, the 2013 Task Forces’ reports on the Basic Course and Core Competencies on the NCA website, which they also may want to refer to during the day. To continue the discussion after the Institute, a Microsoft Teams group will be formed for all participants to exchange ideas and questions going forward after the Institute.

The Chairs’ Institute is open to department chairs, designated incoming chairs for 2023-24, and communication school directors, assistant/associate deans, and deans. Breakfast and lunch are included in the Chairs’ Institute registration. The registration fee is $200. 

Questions and suggestions about the Institute may be directed to Dane S. Claussen, NCA Director of Research, Publications, and Professional Advancement, or 202-534-1103.