Communication as Engagement CFP: National Association of Communication Centers Conference, April 20-21, 2018, James Madison University

The 2018 National Association of Communication Center’s Excellence at the Center Conference theme is “Communication as Engagement.” Calls for more engagement from higher education are nothing new. The most recent engagement conversation intensified in 2001, after 9/11. The 2001 National Communication Association Presidential Address challenged communication scholars and practitioners to lead collegiate engagement efforts with vision, passion, and courage. In 2003, the Excellence at the Center Conference theme was “Engagement at the Center,” with participants discussing civility and community outreach. Administrators, policymakers, and others have been calling for increased engagement but what makes the recent round of interest in engagement different is the contemporary political and social climate. Communication Centers, alongside our colleagues in writing centers, tutoring programs, academic departments, other collegiate programs, are being asked to justify our areas in an environment where engagement and accountability drive decision-making. More than just places for engaged faculty, Centers are being asked to be vehicles for engaged and engaging students.

The theme “Communication as Engagement” offers an opportunity to reflect on how Communication Centers have already been contributing to the mission of higher education to engage. Moreover, the conference theme encourages participants to respond to these calls for engagement by pushing our understanding of what those mean in our current moment. At James Madison University, engagement has three facets; engaged learning, civic engagement, and community engagement. How is it that Communication Centers, or other peer-based learning centers, facilitate and participate in engaged learning, civic engagement, and community engagement?

Conference participants might consider best practices or processes at their home institutions that facilitate traditional engagement or enable new forms of engagement.

Framing questions can include but are not limited to:

-What role does communication play in engagement?

-How does your Center or Lab currently participate in practices of engagement?

-How do we encourage tutors, consultants, or peer educators to be engaged?

-How can we collaborate with other campus and community partners to be leaders in engagement?

-Are there concerns with privileging engagement?

-How do we define or measure successful Center engagement?

-What role can online or digital communication offer engagement?

In addition to traditional NACC conference attendees from communication centers and speaking labs, we encourage participants, entries, and attendance from writing centers, multimodal centers, supplemental instruction, science and math learning centers, other tutoring services, and other higher education or community professionals interested in engagement.

Presenters can also prepare full manuscripts for submission to the 2019 special section of the Communication Center Journal focused on communication as engagement. The full call for papers will be available on the NACC website. Inquires can be sent to

Applegate, J. L. (2002). Communication as an engaged discipline: Seeing with new eyes and skating to where the puck will be. Spectra, 38, 7.

Hartelius, E. J., & Cherwitz, R. A. (2016). Engagement: rhetoric’s tale from the field. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 44(4), 453-457.

Hogan, J. M., Kurr, J. A., Johnson, J. D., & Bergmaier, M. J. (2016). Speech and debate as civic education. Communication Education, 65(4), 377-381.

Please visit the conference website for details about submission process and deadlines,