This summer at the International Communication Association’s conference in Fukuoka, Japan, twenty communication scholars and students gathered for a preconference on Pubic Deliberation and Dialogue: Building an International Network of Research, Pedagogy, and Service. The group included faculty and students working in Denmark, Finland, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, and USA. The gathering was designed to build a stronger international network by sharing ideas on public deliberation and dialogue in the areas of teaching, research, and service.
The preconference started with short 3-5 minute presentations from each participant. Invited to share their broad interests, a specific project, or questions they’d like to explore, each person introduced their work while also establishing our shared interest in deliberation and dialogue in media coverage, social media, classrooms, campuses, communities, and legislatures. These presentations planted the seeds of collaboration between participants while also raising issues and values that would be discussed in small groups.
In the first small group session, participants explored a range of research areas, including the need for theorizing the function of incivility and storytelling in deliberation as well as the importance of local cultures when studying deliberative characteristics such as politeness and rationality. Participants also discussed ways to give voice to underrepresented groups and to cultivate deliberative faith across cultures. In the second session, participants considered the opportunities and the challenges of conducting engaged work. Conversations on this topic revolved around the question of identity – “How do we engage authentically as a researcher, teacher, and community member?” The small group session ended with the exchange of ideas on ways to enhance intercultural dialogue through faculty-led study abroad trips and to develop deliberative skills in communication courses across different cultures.
The final part of the preconference looked at how a network on dialogue and deliberation consisting of scholars from around the world could be formed. There was a discussion on how to create supportive and informative relationships and linkages to others outside the network who may contribute to or benefit from the network. There was interest in having a range of academic disciplines, nationalities, concepts that differ across disciplines and cultures and taking into account common interests and common goals as well as what resources its members will want to exchange. Dialogue and deliberation to address regional challenges would be an interesting area to pursue: identifying challenges and opportunities facing regions, examining dialogue and deliberation research and aspirations in different parts of the world, exploring ways in which dialogue and deliberation can be deployed and coordinated to support shared interests, increasing understanding of emerging trends and new models, and creating opportunities to strengthen and leverage links and networks.
The co-chairs of the preconference were:
Soo-Hye Han, Kansas State University
Azirah Hashim, University of Malaya; Executive Director, Asia-Europe Institute (AEI)
Leah Sprain, University of Colorado, Boulder
Tim Steffensmeier, Kansas State University
For further information about the new network, contact Tim Steffensmeier, steffy[at]ksu.edu