Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Join
2017 Convention in Salt Lake City
Share |

Centralizing Marginality, Marginalizing the Center 

February 18 - February 21, 2017 Salt Lake City


(Please direct any edits on names, affiliations, and/or paper titles to President-Elect Michelle A. Holling)


Western States Communication Association holds an annual convention, often over Presidents' Day weekend in February, at a location in one of our 12 western states. The location is selected 4+ years in advance by the Executive Council, upon the recommendation of the Time and Place Committee and with input from the Legislative Assembly.

Western's conventions involve about 750 students, faculty, and practitioners experiencing close to 200 research papers, symposium, presentations, short-courses, debates, and discussions. During our convention, we also recognize and reward outstanding contributions to the communication discipline, to its scholarship and teaching, and to WSCA.

The convention begins with pre-conference workshops Saturday morning and afternoon. The Undergraduate Scholars' Research Conference is Saturday, and the Graduate Student Workshop and Graduate Programs Open House are Saturday afternoon. The Kickoff Event and Welcome Reception are Saturday late afternoon/early evening. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (until about noon) multiple panels are held simultaneously. The Keynote Speech is Sunday morning; the famous, not-to-be-missed Sock Hop is Sunday evening, and the Convention Luncheon is Monday.

The first WSCA convention was held in 1929 in San Francisco. Conventions have been held annually since then, except for two years during World War II. The WSCA convention is where our unofficial slogan comes from: "Work hard; play hard!" We invite you to join us, and "Come West for the Best!" The 2017 conference theme is "Centralizing Marginality, Marginalizing the Center."

Basic Course Conference

The 2017 WSCA convention will again feature the return of the Basic Course Conference (BCC), a mini-conference typically held every two years on the Saturday of the convention focused on issues and concerns in the Basic Course, broadly defined. In keeping with the convention theme of “Centralizing Marginality, Marginalizing the Center,” this year’s BCC will be different in both format and focus. First, rather than organize the conference as a top-down, expert-driven event to inform the audience about a pre-determined topic, this year’s BCC will be a bottom-up event in which WSCA members discuss topics and issues in the Basic Course that they felt were worthy of discussion in thematic, “fishbowl” round tables. Second, this year’s BCC will focus on topics what might be considered by some to be “marginal” issues in the Basic Course. Basic Course scholars and teachers regularly gather at conferences to discuss our curricula, books, assignments, teaching strategies, and the role of the Basic Course. While these are vital issues, this year’s BCC will intentionally obscure them to focus instead on less common topics that may offer different perspectives on the Basic Course.


       Welcome       9:00 am - 9:10 am

       ROUND 1      9:10 am - 10:25 am

       Fishbowl A:    De-centering the Public Speaking Tradition?

Then and Now: Why is the Basic Course being devalued across campuses nationwide?
Kristin Slattery, Colorado State University

Digital Oratory: How can we prepare students for their future instead of our past?
Erin Heasley, California State University, Fresno

Can we do our students a disservice by teaching student argumentation and debate?
Cassandra J. Hemphill, Missoula College of the University of Montana

Team-Based Learning: How should the Basic Course change to meet contemporary and future challenges across interpersonal, group, and public contexts?
Luke LeFebvre, Texas Tech University
Dale Anderson, Del Mar College

       Fishbowl B:    Re-Centering the Heart of the Basic Course

"A" is for Failure?Centering compositional process in the Basic Course
Joe Hatfield, University of Colorado, Boulder

Inquiry, not transmission: How can the Basic Course teach speaking as knowledge creation as opposed to a mode for the distribution of knowledge?
Stephen Llano, St. John's University

Why do we teach four modes of delivery as defined from the speaker's perspective?
Rick Soller, College of Lake County

Can authentic speech and audience engagement ameliorate today's corporate media and its hyper-produced discourse?
David B. Landes, American University in Dubai

       Break          10:25 am - 10:30 am      

      Round 2       10:30 am - 11:45 am

       Fishbowl C:    Centering Connections Across Communities and Nations in the Basic Course

How can we institute positive communication pedagogy within the Basic Course?
Jeanette Musselwhite, University of Colorado, Boulder

Interdependence: How can the Basic Course support students learning to become ethical and effective communicators in an interdependent world?
Debian Marty, California State University Monterey Bay

Home and Abroad: How can flipped classrooms influence the Basic Course at international branch campuses (IBCs)?
Wan-Lin Change, George Mason University Korea

        Fishbowl D:    Marginalizing Deterrents to Justice

De-centering Whiteness in Public Speaking: How do we bring the community wealth of hip hop and spoken word poetry to the forefront of our classrooms for the inclusion of students of color and other marginalized groups?
Agustin "Tino" Diaz, University of Utah

Slaughtering Anthrpocentrism: Given the catastrophic level of violence within the "animal-industrial complex," how might the Basic Course demonstrate how and to what effect students and their species are complicit in the massacre nonhuman animals for human use and consumption?
T. Jake Dionne, University of Colorado, Boulder

Facing the Urban-Suburban Achievement Gap: How do we productively and fairly assess students hindered by regressing inner-city public school systems?
Scott A. Mitchell, Wayne State University

Balancing Free Speech and Safety: How do we ensure the Basic Course classroom does not perpetuate the racism our students of color experience every day without compromising freedom of speech?
Hailey Otis, Colorado State University

       Reporting Out   11:45 am - 12:30 pm

All WSCA convention goers are invited to attend and participate in the discussion section of each roundtable. There is no fee associated with participation above and beyond registering for the convention; however, to ensure sufficient accommodations, anyone interested in attending the BCC will be asked to register online. Registration for the BCC will open in December.


We look forward to seeing you at the BCC in Salt Lake City!

Tom Dunn, Basic Course Coordinator

Pre-Conference Workshops

President-Elect, Michelle Holling, is featuring several workshops on Saturday, February 18. If you want to participate, sign up when you register for the conference. You may also be able to sign up at the convention. If the minimum numbers are not met, the workshop may be cancelled and those who registered will be notified and refunded.

The pre-conference workshops assembled by the presenters are timely, thoughtfully developed, informative, and connect beautifully to the convention theme. Worth noting is that, where possible, President-Elect Holling optimized the time schedule to allow members to register for more than one activity, in some instances. They all occur on Saturday, February 18, 2017.

Reframing Communication Theory: The Impact of Performance and Film on Empathy

          $5.00         10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Presenter: Rosalie Fisher, Arizona State University

The goal of this workshop is to explore the impact that watching a film or performance has on people’s feelings, perspectives, and capacity for empathy. This workshop begins with a brief description of the research conducted on empathy, followed by a viewing of a short documentary made by the presenter. Participants will complete a survey before and after the viewing of the film, with questions regarding their perspectives on empathy. The remaining time will be allotted for small group discussion/interviews as we explore the role that film and performance plays in people’s perceptions of empathy. The discussion will also include a civil dialogue portion, which invites participants to volunteer to take a position on the topic discussed in the film in order to foster a discussion about the future directions for research on empathy and conflict negotiation.

No Greater Odds: Centralizing Marginality, Marginalizing the Center

         $5.00         10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Presenter: Charlene S. Gibson, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas

No Greater Odds, the acclaimed documentary, has been screened at the Library of Congress, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and is currently touring myriad colleges and conferences nationwide. More recently, it also played a role in higher education legislation and Civic Nation’s Heads Up America campaign. Join us for this screening and subsequent professional development workshop that share the principles that guided the documentary’s featured students to success through “Centralizing Marginality, Marginalized the Center.” During the workshop, participants will view the film followed by discussion and workshop to address themes in the film (e.g., the art of relationship building in class, meeting students where they are, building community outside of the classroom, mentoring, and connecting the college to the community).


Teaching Whiteness in the Communication Classroom: Deconstructing the Center, Moving to the Margins

         $5.00         10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Presenters: Godfried Asante, University of New Mexico; Dawn McIntosh, University of Denver; Dreama Moon, California State University San Marcos

The workshop offers a strategically theoretical and experiential journey into approaches and challenges to teaching about whiteness. Topics to be covered are:

  • Preparing oneself to teach whiteness
  • Theoretical and socio-historical approaches to teaching whiteness
  • Embodied aspects of teaching whiteness
  • Dealing with resistance
  • Broadening the conversation beyond white privilege
  • Balancing different levels of racial literacy
  • Balancing the needs of students of color and white students
  •  Possible assignments and teaching aids

From Margin to Center: Feminist Inquiry in the Communication Discipline

          $15.00         12:30 - 5:00 pm

ORWAC invites your participation in a preconference at the Western States Communication Association in Salt Lake City from 12:30-5:00 on Saturday, February 18, the day the convention begins. The preconference will be modeled on the “Gender Conferences” that were held annually in the communication discipline in the 1980s and 1990s. At these small conferences, there were no formal paper presentations. Instead, participants wrote short position papers on questions developed around the conference theme and came prepared to discuss that question with others who had written on that question.

The theme for the preconference will concern issues of marginality in feminist inquiry in communication.

The preconference will be organized around the following questions:

1. Defining Feminism:  How do you define feminism?  What is the center that constitutes the essence of feminism for you?  What does it mean to be a feminist in the field of communication, in academia, and in general? What are feminist principles? Must a feminist consistently act politically, and, if so, what does that mean?  Do we still need the label feminist to describe our orientation to the world?  Facilitator:  Lynn O’Brien Hallstein
2. Assessing Feminist Scholarship:  What do you see as the current status of feminist research within the communication discipline?  Is feminist scholarship at the center or still at the margins? Has a feminist perspective been integrated into the discipline?  What should the agenda be for feminist scholarship in the communication discipline?  What question about feminism and communication would you like communication scholars to ask?  What article from a feminist perspective would you most like to read in our journals that hasn’t yet been published? Facilitator:  Kristen Hoerl
3. Speaking from the Margins:  What are you interested in discussing in terms of feminism or feminist scholarship that you have felt couldn’t be discussed?  Are there strictures within the communication discipline or within feminism that make you feel that you can’t say certain things?  How would a discussion of this “unspoken” topic change our perspective on feminism or feminist scholarship?  Facilitator:  Sarah Upton De Los Santos
4. Living Feminist Lives:  What does it mean to you to live as a feminist?  How can feminism be made central to our academic lives?  How can our lives as academic feminists be made more satisfying, coherent, and fun? Facilitator:  Casey Kelly
5. Teaching as a Feminist:  What constitutes feminist pedagogy?  Is it different from other kinds of good teaching?  Is feminist pedagogy contradictory in any ways to good teaching?  How can we make feminism central in all of our classes, even those that do not deal explicitly with gender and diversity?  Is feminist pedagogy contradictory in any ways to good teaching?  What are the results of feminist pedagogy in our classrooms?  How can we become more feminist in our pedagogy? Facilitator: Catherine Waggoner

To participate in the preconference, write a short position paper (2-4 double-spaced pages) on one of the questions, and submit it to Karen A. Foss by January 10, 2017. Submitting a paper by the deadline will guarantee your participation in the preconference. By writing a position paper, you may be able to secure travel funds from your university for the convention. Your paper will be circulated in advance to other participants who wrote on the same question so that all members of your discussion group will have advanced knowledge of the perspectives of the other group members.

If you have questions about the preconference, please contact Karen Foss or 505-379-0459.

Drawing You Out, Drawing You In: A Workshop for Communication Educators

         $12.00           2:00 - 5:00 pm
Leader: KC Councilor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This workshop leads communication teachers in creative practices of drawing and writing that can be incorporated into the college classroom. Whether you teach argumentation and debate or public speaking, this workshop will leave you with new ideas about how to meet your learning outcomes and teaching challenges and how to engage your students in new ways. The workshop is generative and hands-on, and participants will leave with a rich set of activities and ideas as well as their own drawings and writing. Time will be reserved for discussion and brainstorming as a group about how participants can adopt workshop activities for their own particular classrooms and needs.


"What Can I Do With a Communication Major?" Helping Students Centralize, Celebrate, and Communicate the Strengths of Our Field

         $5.00          2:00 - 5:00 pm
Presenters: Matthew Sanders, Utah State University; John McClellan, Boise State University

Students often struggle to provide a satisfying response to the question, “What are you going to do with a communication major?” Yet, what we teach in the field of communication is what employers desire most in college graduates. This workshop is designed to help instructors re-imagine how they can help students thoughtfully articulate to others why they are studying communication and why it is a useful and necessary degree to earn.  Four main sections compose this three-hour workshop:

  • Explore with participants the kinds of conversations that we have with students about their concerns about studying communication as well as the questions other people ask students about being a communication major.
  • Present to participants a way for them and their students to challenge and reframe the question, “What are you going to do with a communication major?” in way that is respectful and steers to conversation in a positive direction. This is done by asking students, “What kind of work do you want to do when you graduate?” and then telling them, “Tell me what you want to do, and I can help you understand how a major in communication will help you be excellent in that field.”
  • Present to participants an overarching framework for defining the field of communication that is meaningful, understandable, and useful for undergraduate students, their parents, and employers. Defining the field in scholarly terms with all its complexity is challenging, but there are useful ways to talk about communication.
  • Explore potential connections among common courses in the field that develop competencies that employers desire and that are important for living in a complex, global society.
Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal