Civic Engagement at the 2010 Central States Communication Association Convention
By Steven Hunt, President, Central States Communication Association
The theme for the 2010 convention of the Central States Communication Association (CSCA) was Communication and Civic Engagement: Challenge, Engage, and Change. The 2010 conference program showcased the ways civic and political engagement issues transcend all of CSCA’s interest groups, caucuses, and sections. In addition, the program planners reached out to scholars, community leaders, and others outside of the discipline to bring new audiences to our convention.
One of my goals as the primary conference planner was to recruit the most important and recognizable leaders in the national civic engagement movement to make the case for civic engagement to CSCA’s membership. I am extraordinarily grateful to George Mehaffy, Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and Felice Nudelman, Executive Director of education for The New York Times for their time, support, and commitment to civic engagement and the discipline of communication.
As founding members of the American Democracy Project, George and Felice came to the conference with the ethos required to persuade educators and scholars in the communication discipline to adopt civic and political engagement as a goal of higher education.
George’s keynote, delivered to a crowd of 300 administrators, faculty, and students, focused on the unique role of the communication discipline in advancing the civic engagement movement. It likely comes as no surprise to readers that George’s speech was very well received—his PowerPoint presentation is available on the Previous Convention Highlights section of the CSCA website.
Felice also delivered an exceptional presentation regarding the need for communication educators to embrace civic engagement as part of a breakfast attended by over 250 conference participants. Later that day, George and Felice joined together to host a well-attended session about opportunities for involvement in the ADP. Taken together, George and Felice had an impressive impact on our conference, persuading numerous communication educators from across the country that civic engagement has a very important role to play in higher education.
In summary, our 2010 conference brought numerous educators, scholars, community organizers, higher education administrators, and other leaders together around the theme of civic engagement in a way that reduced barriers within our discipline and between communication and other disciplines. These conversations also demonstrated how communication theory and scholarship can be brought to bear on some of the most difficult problems we face in our communities.