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2018 Convention in Santa Clara
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Western States Communication Association holds an annual convention, often around 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 Friday, and the Graduate Student Workshop and Graduate Programs Open House are Friday afternoon. The Kickoff Event and Welcome Reception are Friday late afternoon/early evening. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (until about noon) multiple panels are held simultaneously. The Keynote Speech is Saturday morning; the famous, not-to-be-missed Sock Hop is Saturday evening, and the Convention Luncheon is Sunday.

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 2018 conference theme is "Mindfulness and Communication"

Pre-Conference Workshops

President-Elect, Brian Heisterkamp, is featuring nine workshops on Friday, February 16. 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.

Communication Pedagogy: Moving Beyond the "Basic" Course

Facilitators: Brandi Lawless, Luke LeFebvre, Leah LeFebvre, Dale Anderson, Keith Nainby, Nicholas Zoffel, Jennifer Kienzle, and Ashely Archiopoli                                                                                          $5.00

Friday February 16                                                                                                     9:00 am to 12:30 pm

This workshop offers concrete skills, pedagogical activities, and ideas to push the boundaries of the communication classroom. Three mini-sessions will be offered: (1) Communication Centers, (2) Teaching with Technology, and (3) Teaching for Social Justice. Attention will be paid to face-to-face and online classrooms, teaching within the current political/social climate, and reenvisioning Communication Centers for broader impact.Experts in each of these areas present about their experiences with regard to the topics and offer unique takeaways for participants.

Bodies on the Line, in the Water, and on the Streets: Performances of Resistance as Environmental and Civic Mindfulness in the Context of Climate Change

Facilitators: Deborah Cox Callister, Sarah Amira de la Garza, Anastasia R. Prentiss, Suzanne Pullen, Julie "Madrone" Kalil Schutten                                                                                           $5.00

Friday February 16                                                                                                     9:00 am to 12:30 pm

This half-day afternoon pre-conference offers an off-site space for performance engagement on issues of environmental and social justice. We will explore the ways performance methods and how we discursively construct nature can be employed as strategies to become more mindful of the natural world. Focusing on internatural communication, we will challenge our complicity, implication, and coherence in relation to environmental and social injustices.

Practicing mindfulness by acknowledging student variations: Implementing Universal Design of Learning (UDL) in communication courses

Facilitator: Audrey L. Deterding                                                                                   $15.00

Friday February 16                                                                                                     9:00 am to 12:00 pm

The goal of this workshop is to learn the basics of Universal Design of Learning (UDL) and how to begin to incorporate this framework in a mindful way. This workshop will begin with an explanation of UDL and how it is enacted in course design. Participants will be given examples of classes using the framework. Then, participants will use the remaining time to work on a self-selected component in their own class. It is recommended that participants bring a laptop and/or hard copies of assignments, syllabi, etc. to work on.

Mindfulness Communication Practice in the Communication Course

Facilitator: George Nagel and Dan Huston                                                                                           $10.00

Friday February 16                                                                                                     9:00 am to 12:00 pm

This workshop is designed for participants to experience the practical benefits of combining the practice of mindfulness with the study of communication. Participants will encounter mindfulness practices and then consider the application of these practices to what they do in the classroom. Resource materials will be provided for the participants’ own development and eventual application in the classroom. Considerable time will be spent in the first half of the workshop practicing and reflecting on mindfulness. The latter part of the workshop will permit us to brainstorm ways mindfulness could be infused into the courses participants teach.

We will touch on many of the benefits of mindfulness and how it works. Fundamentally, mindfulness is choosing to pay attention in a particular way: “on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). While concentration deepens, practitioners also develop a greater awareness of the kind of distractions they encounter. One may ultimately observe or witnesses the inner dynamics of the constructed self. Other more immediate benefits include less rumination, reactivity, and increased emotional resilience and compassion. Bottom line:  learning improves.

This workshop is open to open to anyone, whether they have no prior mindfulness experience or a well-established practice.

Communication to Promote Mindful Feminist Thought

Facilitators: Julianna Kirschner, Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, John Kephart, Kristen Hoerl, and Mary Domenico

Friday February 16                                                                                                     $10.00

                                                                                                                                 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

This pre-conferencen workshop will provide feminist scholars the opportunity for sustained conversation around several topics. Those who wish to participate are asked to register and submit a short position paper (2-4 double-spaced pages) on one of the following four questions by February 1, 2018. At the conference, those who have written about the same question will be placed in a group together. The questions around which the discussion groups will be organized are:

1. Defining Feminism: How do you define feminism? What action and/or belief would you consider to be feminist? What does it mean to be a feminist in the field of communication, in academia, and in general? What does a mindful feminism look like? Is mindfulness appropriate as part of feminism? Do we still need the label feminist to describe our orientation to the world? Facilitator: John Kephart

2. Assessing Feminist Scholarship: What do you see as the current status of feminist research within the communication discipline? Has feminist scholarship connected with the current discourse in the field? What does mindful feminist scholarship look like? Is there a place for mindfulness in feminist scholarly work? What would you like to see investigated in feminist scholarship? 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. Mindful Feminist Communication: What does mindfulness mean to you? How might our lives be more enriched by advancing this focus in the discipline? What does it mean to speak mindfully in feminist and communication discourses? How can feminism be mindfully addressed in our academic lives? Facilitator: Mary Domenico

4. Grounded Feminist Praxis in the Classroom: 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 mindfully focus on feminism in all of our classes, even those that do not deal explicitly with gender and diversity? How might mindfulness advance the goals of feminist pedagogy? Does mindfulness hinder feminist pedagogy? If so, in what ways? What are the results of feminist pedagogy in our classrooms? Facilitator: Julianna Kirschner

Papers should be submitted by February 1 to Any questions about the preconference may also be directed to that email address.

Creating Mindful Learning Ensembles in the Communication Classroom: Applied Improvisation as Communication Pedagogy

Facilitators: Jonathan P. Rossing and Juliane Mora                                                          $5.00

Friday February 16                                                                                                     1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The workshop introduces participants to applied improvisation in communication pedagogy. Participants will participate in exercises adapted from improvisational theater. These exercises provide teaching techniques for a broad range of communication principles and theories that allow students to immerse themselves in communicative practice. They also foster a supportive learning ensemble. Participants will gain an understanding of applied improvisation and strategies for incorporating these activities into their classrooms.

Humor as Pedagogy: Functions, Benefits and Tensions

Facilitator: Tara Franks and Nicholas A. Zoffel                                                              $5.00

Friday February 16                                                                                                     1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

As facilitators of this short-course, we aim to demonstrate how humor functions as pedagogy through a variety of theoretical approaches, strategic styles, and throughout our communication courses. We will provide participants with a clear understanding of humor theories, showcase best practices, and carefully analyze potential pitfalls as they relate to student learning. Participants will leave the short course with a collection of classroom resources via media links to recent/relevant research on humor as pedagogy, as well as numerous examples of appropriate humor uses/types for communication courses (e.g., intercultural, interpersonal, public speaking, small group, media). Such a course has the potential to enrich existing communication pedagogy scholarship by offering educators creative instructional strategies through the juxtaposition of humor and education research, critical thinking and applied practice.

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