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Communication at Play in The Urban Environment

Communication at Play in The Urban Environment

Urban Communication Foundation

Submission Deadline Dates:  Mon, 1/15 2018 12:00 AM – Thu, 3/29 2018 3:00 AM EDT

Urban Communication Foundation


NOVEMBER 8 -11, 2018
Communication at Play in The Urban Environment

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: March 28, 2018 at 11:59 PM Pacific
Program Planners: Peter Haratonik,
Erik Garrett,

The Urban Communication Foundation promotes research that enhances our understanding of communication patterns in the urban environment and encourages collaboration between communication scholars, urban planners and policy makers. We support diverse research strategies, recognize noteworthy scholarship in this area and invite participation from all scholars and practitioners studying the various forms of urban communication.

We encourage submissions that connect to the conference theme, “Communication at Play” in relation to the urban environment  We invite individual papers, paper sessions and panel discussions that links communication scholarship to our understanding of the urban environment.  We welcome theoretical and applied research and panels that explore how our work as communication scholars can have an impact on social and public policy in urban centers. We actively seek new opportunities  to disseminate our work  We are intentionally ”eclectic” and open to new and alternative approaches.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  •         The communication of cultural and social differences in the city (e.g. gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality)
  • Negotiations, divides, conflicts in urban contexts (e.g. political, religious, economic, ethnic)
  • Identity politics and intercultural communication in the city
  • Political, countercultural, and social movements in the urban environment
  • Power and urban space (e.g. urban regeneration, segregation, gentrification)
  • Aesthetic, semiotic, rhetorical and discursive dimensions of urban spaces and places
  • Visual, material, aural, sensorial, and multimodal aspects of urban space
  • Urban space and the communication of memory, heritage, tradition
  • Spaces of production, consumption and/or citizenship
  • The relationship between urban, suburban, and rural spaces
  • Representing and communicating the city (e.g. tourism and travel media, city and place branding, cinematic and televised urban spaces)
  • Urban media ecologies
  • Media and technology usage in cities and their role in the experience of urban space (e.g. geo-location, new public and private spaces, augmented reality)
  • The presence of media and technology in the urban environment (e.g. new forms of architecture, security/surveillance technologies, screens, mobile media and communication devices)
  • The relationship between cities and the media, cultural, and creative industries (e.g. strategies of attraction of media companies into cities, impacts on communities and urban landscapes, connectivity and infrastructure, the local/global nexus)

Submission Method and Deadline
Online submission will be accepted through the NCA Convention Central website beginning January . The link is available on the NCA Convention website:

Types of Submissions 
Interested colleagues are encouraged to submit individual papers, paper sessions, and/or panel discussion proposals that address the convention theme as it relates to urban communication. (Conformity with the NCA convention theme is not a requirement for submission). UCF has limited program times but will consider the following three types of submissions: individual papers, paper sessions (common theme paper presentations); and panel discussions (common topic roundtable discussion).

  • Individual Papers: All paper submissions should include an uploaded file between 20 and 25 pages (double-spaced) in length, including references and tables, and have (a) a title; (b) a 250–500-word description; and (c) no personal identification of the author in the abstract or throughout the paper upload. Please remove all personal identification before uploading the document online.  If your submission is a student paper, please be sure to indicate this.
  • Paper Sessions are composed of a group of authors with papers to present centered upon a common theme. Paper Session proposals must include (a) a session title and description describing the session’s overall focus; (b) indicate the session chair and respondent; (c) the title of each paper on the session and author information; (d) an abstract of no more than 75 words for each paper; and (e) a rationale of no more than 250 words for the session.
  • Panel Discussions are composed of a group of panelists who discuss a specific topic. Submitters may use the exact same text for both the description and rationale if they do not wish to create a separate rationale (reviewers will use the rationale when evaluating this type of panel). Complete panel discussion proposals in this format will therefore include (a) a panel title describing the panel’s overall focus; (b) a list of all presenters, with their affiliations; (c) an description of no more than 250 words; and (d) a rationale of no more than 250 words.

All panel discussion or paper session proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: (a) solid organization and preparation, with clear indication of the focus and rationale of the panel; (b) clear, strong integration/coherence among the topics of the individual papers or presentations; and (c) relation to UCF mission. All submitters are also asked to consider creative collaborations and co-sponsorship with other units.

NCA Policy: Audio/Visual Equipment
NCA policy entails providing reasonable A/V support of presentations at its annual convention. However, equipment requests must be kept to a minimum because of their high cost. Submitters must therefore adhere to the following guidelines:

  • A/V equipment requests MUST be made at the same time as the paper or panel’s submission, and will be screened by the program planner.
  • NCA will normally approve requests for the following equipment: laptop audio, Internet connection and LCD projectors.
  • NCA will NOT normally approve requests for equipment such as laptops, transparency projectors, VCR or DVD players, camcorders, satellite links, or teleconference/webinar equipment.

Individuals may, of course, elect to rent equipment for/at the convention at their own expense.

All submitters are encouraged to review the Professional Standards for Convention Participants prior to submission. Helpful resources (including the Professional Standards for Convention Participants), such as live and recorded step-by-step instructions on how to submit, are available in the NCA Convention Library (

The Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award Awarded to Evelyn M. Perry

Evelyn M. Perry, Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict, and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Evelyn M. Perry, Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict,
and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood has been selected as the 2017 Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Foundation Award winner. The jury was unanimous in its decision and applauded the work as a rich, detailed, and engagingly written ethnography of how residents of an integrated neighborhood in Milwaukee (one of the most segregated cities in America) negotiate conflicts and differences related to class, race, sexuality, lifestyle, and politics. Her study shows in particular the tensions between two broad cultural approaches to dealing with neighborhood conflicts and tensions: (1) a “live and let live” urbanism that prefers informal processes of social control (forming connections with neighbors vs. calling the police) and which makes fine distinctions between tolerable urban disorders and more intolerable forms of harassment and crime, and (2) an emergent emphasis on and preference for more formal social controls (police, zoning, etc.) and middle-class/suburban definitions of order, often preferred by more recent arrivals (gentrifiers, etc.). Obviously the ability to live with conflicts and differences, particularly around politics, identity, race, and class, is top-of-mind in the first year of a uniquely divisive Trump Presidency. This context–as well as the book’s overall excellence–makes this a very topical choice as well.

Bridging Divides: The Legacy, Impact, and Future of Urban Communication

Bridging Divides: The Legacy, Impact, and Future of Urban Communication


Bridging Divides: The Legacy, Impact, and Future of Urban Communication

With the support of the

Urban Communication Foundation (


Southern Methodist University Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity


Pre-conference held at the Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity, Lyle School of Engineering

Southern Methodist University, Caruth Hall 206

Dallas, Texas

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

9:00 am – 5:00 pm


2017 Urban Communication Foundation NCA Pre-Conference

Draft Schedule

Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location: Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity,

Lyle School of Engineering

SMU, Caruth Hall 206

9:00 am – 9:10 am: Welcome & Opening Remarks

9:10 am – 10:30 am: Panel One – Approaches to Knowing and Experiencing Cities

  • Bryan Picciotto (University of Main)

“Walking as Urban Communication: A Case Study of Walkability in Maine”

  • Jin-Ae Kang (East Carolina University) & Brittany M.W. Thompson (East Carolina University)

“Farmer’s Self-Storytelling as a Tool of Relationship Building & Digital Advocacy”

  • Max Renner (North Carolina State University)

“Sketching Civic Engagement: Archiving the Legacy of Cities through Digital Public Art”

  • erin mcclellan (Boise State University), Kelly Myers (Boise State University) & Emily Nemeth (Denison University)

“Planned Communities and the Development of Empathy”

10:40 am – 12:00 pm: Spotlight Panel – Participatory Action Research in Dallas

The Spotlight panel will feature Dallas social science and GIS projects being done in the City of Dallas. The will focus particularly on Community Research and GIS. The panel will address the use of household resiliency surveys addressing areas such as demographics, food access, safety, transportation, urban agriculture and relationships with existing community organizations and are intended to be used to inform solutions that are relevant at the household and community level. It will additionally discuss in-depth mapping of South Dallas Fair Park at Jubilee Park, St. Philip’s Community and the MLK Public Investment District attempting to link house-house survey and interview level data on attitudes and behaviors to inform on-going GIS mapping projects support opportunities to build healthy communities.

12:00 pm – 1:20 pm: Lunch Recess

  • Lunch on your own around conference site

1:30 pm – 2:50 pm: Panel Three – Space, Place, and Urban Environments

  • Kaitlyn Haynal Allen (University of Pittsburgh)

“Pittsburgh Public Parks and Urban Sustainability”

  • Gary Gumpert (Urban Communication Foundation) & Susan Drucker (Hofstra University)

“Bridging a Divided City”

  • Curry Chandler (University of Pittsburgh)

“Baseball Fields of Care: Black Sport History and the Gentrification of Commemorative Urban Space”

3:00 pm – 4:40 pm: Panel Four – Innovative Interventions in Food & Job Deserts

Dallas has the third-highest overall poverty rate among large cities. In 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labeled half of South Dallas a food desert. It is estimated that 700,000 people, including 250,000 children, live in low income communities with limited access to supermarkets in Dallas County. A fresh food desert is also a job desert. This panel will first define the problem of food deserts as well as feature change agents and innovators with four very different local solutions. Each of the panelists have created unique models and organizations to address the food and job desert crisis in their city.

  • Chad Houser (Café Momentum – Dallas County Youth Village)
  • Ryan Eason (Medical City Healthcare)
  • Owen Hanley Lynch (Southern Methodist University)
  • Jennifer Eyer (Dallas ISD)

4:45 pm – 5:00 pm: Conclusions & Closing Remarks


Responding to the 2017 NCA annual convention theme, “Our Legacy, Our Relevance,” the Urban Communication Foundation proposes to hold a NCA preconference under the theme, “Bridging Divides: The Legacy, Impact, and Future of Urban Communication.” Given the intense focus on the urban-rural, (post) industrial, global-local, and other highly juxtaposed divides in the U.S. following a contentious 2016 Presidential election, urban communication is more relevant then ever in debates, discussions, and solution-oriented research seeking to foster change. By inviting scholarly position papers intended to identify the state of urban communication, reflect on where it has come from, and strategize about where it can—and should—go next, an urban communication pre-conference will put scholars from across our discipline, using various methodological approaches, and focusing on similar issues from different perspectives, in conversation with one another.

A plethora of “wicked problems” have arisen around many of these juxtapositions—concerns about food deserts, the role of technology in helping (re)vitalize post-industrial cities, the role of city governments in advocating for the social welfare of its residents, the ability for organizational collaboration to effect policy change, historical connections to contemporary development initiatives, and the ways in which we might teach about any of these in our higher education communication courses. A broad-based collective of communication scholars dedicated to studying and discussing urban life is an important part of making sense of these complex divides and ways to connect them.

Urban communication has been an active focus of the discipline for decades and has produced a plethora of internationally-recognized scholars who continue to engage in scholarship that intersects with various aspects of urban life and communication studies. While the juxtapositions and tensions that emerge both within and in relation to urban life, it is an opportune time to pause and reflect on the development of this burgeoning area of study—not just because it is useful to learn from our own historical development as an area of communication studies but because it is necessary for our urban communication scholars to join the various “wicked problems” of our day. Urban food deserts (Gallicano & Stansberry, 2011), issues of sustainability (Passafaro, et al. 2016), (inter)cultural (dis)connections (Mohammad, 2014), and national populist movements (Groshek & Engelbert, 2013) have all grabbed the attention of various communication scholars. While these investigations build upon the work of their disciplinary predecessors, it is perhaps an appropriate time to reflect on the patterns of interest over time. For example, Asante (1976) reflected in the journal Communication about the connections between urban communication and urban culture across the 20th century about the same time that Lanigan (1970) warned in Central States Communication Journal about an “urban crisis” caused by polarizing communication forces. And DiBerardinis (1979) focused on exactly the urban-rural divide that became highly visible in the 2017 Presidential election result maps in his Journal of Applied Communications Research article. But it is the work in between these sets of literature that have shaped the foundation on which current scholars continue to be inspired to work between urban history (e.g., Gibson, 2003), communicative cities (e.g., Gumpert & Drucker, 2008), and helping cities face uncertain futures (e.g., Jeffres & Lin, 2006). It is in this liminal space that we see urban communication scholarship to be primed to propose technological, methodological, pedagogical, philosophical, and applied solutions to various levels and types of problems that cities face. This pre-conference provides an opportunity for urban communication scholars to come together to significantly effect future influence by looking back to where we’ve come from to make collectively informed decisions about where we can—and should—contribute in the future.

We invite scholars focused on quantitative, qualitative, rhetorical, and applied methods of scholarship to contribute to discussion about how cities can begin bridging key divides like those discussed above. We propose hosting a full-day pre-conference hosted at nearby Southern Methodist University (SMU), during which participants will present and discuss (a) research projects, (b) case studies, (c) pedagogy papers, and (d) position papers that focus on how urban communication has effected change historically, is engaged in efforts to effect change currently, and can effect change into the future. Papers can focus on specific localities or larger comparative contexts. Colleagues from across the communication discipline and related fields are welcome. You will receive a formal acceptance and invitation to attend from the Urban Communication Foundation.

Upon acceptance, you will need to submit a check for $15.00 made out the Urban Communication Foundation as a registration fee to defray refreshments and equipment costs at the SMU facility. Details will accompany acceptance notification.


Procedures for submitting papers  

Authors are asked to identify in their abstracts the topic of the short position paper, research report, or case study they wish to contribute to the seminar. Please submit a one-page proposal including a paragraph describing your topic and provide your affiliation and contact information. The deadline for submission is September 15, 2017. A selection committee comprised of three UCF members will review all submissions and inform authors of their submission’s rating by October 1. Authors are responsible for submitting their full manuscripts for participant access no later than October 31, 2017 so that all participants have the opportunity to read and reflect on them prior to attending the preconference. A detailed preconference schedule will be made available in early November 2017 and distributed to participants at that time.

Abstracts should be submitted electronically by Friday, September 15, 2017 to the UCF Pre-conference Chair, erin mcclellan ( Full papers will be due on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Please address any questions you may have to the above email address.

We look forward to receiving your submission and having another fantastic gathering of scholars discussing the various ways that urban communication can help us engage the world.


erin mcclellan (UCF Pre-Conference Chair)

Sheila Gobes-Ryan (UCF Pre-Conference Co-Chair)

Curry Chandler (UCF Pre-Conference Co-Chair)

Gary Gumpert (UCF President)

Peter Haratonik (UCF Executive Coordinator)

Owen Hanley Lynch (SMU Site Coordinator)

White Paper – Call For Applications

Call for Grant Applications (2017-2018)

UCF White Paper Program

Free Speech in the City

The Urban Communication Foundation (UCF) believes that an important measure of the health of a city is how well the city fosters and protects environments and rights supporting healthy, open, and robust communication. Such is the basis for democratic participatory societies, and that is fundamental to our values as a foundation. But open and robust communications sometimes pose challenges to other interests in cities and to the governments overseeing those cities. And governments may try to limit communication in response to such challenges. Some will do so more successfully than others, and some will focus on enhancing rather than controlling communication.

As the world appears to be increasingly contentious, the UCF is dedicating this year’s White Paper Program to an examination of urban communication freedom, regulation, and relevant government intervention and policy. We are particularly interested in soliciting proposals that will lead to the development of a white paper that discusses ways in which government regulation or policy, especially that made at the local city-level,  can protect and enhance an open and robust marketplace of ideas that is characterized by democratic values of inclusion, reason, and courage. The locus of our concern is, of course, cities.

The following are but a few examples of research questions and topics that applicants might pursue. This list is not at all exhaustive, and novel and interesting research questions are encouraged.

  • What regulatory mechanisms have been used to limit communication in urban contexts, and what can we learn from them that might strengthen efforts to limit the limits?
  • Do cities have communication issues that lend themselves to particular regulatory attention?
  • What are the best examples of how cities, perhaps in partnership with NGOs, have enhanced communication freedoms?
  • How do the intersections of communication and infrastructure lend themselves to regulation?  How might government policies encourage freer communication?
  • How might the legitimate concerns of governments be addressed while best protecting democratic expression?
  • What policies most effectively protect and enhance robust urban communication? What strategies enhance the likelihood of such policies being adopted?
  • How can public/private partnerships enhance open democratic expression?
  • What threats to privacy impact free expression and what government policies can address those threats?
  • In what ways has the change in the channels/locus of urban communication – from town square to the Internet – changed the regulatory environment and the freedom of expression?
  • What corporate policies and infrastructures impact freedom of expression and the governments’ ability to regulate it?
  • How does zoning, broadly defined, impact communication freedom?
  • What sorts of non-communication-focused regulations and policies have secondary impacts on communication freedom (for example, regulations pertaining to traffic, street furniture, public safety, etc.)
  • What municipal policies can enhance participatory government and access to municipal information?

Information about the Urban Communication Foundation’s White Paper Program

The UCF has been a leader in promoting scholarship in the general area of urban communication. The Foundation has funded dozens of research projects and acknowledged dozens of scholars that have advanced the field of study. Through this White Paper series, we extend this influence by focusing in on particular issues or areas of research and look to support the development of public research reports on issues that have a direct bearing on public policy and/or the everyday life for people within cities.

The final report should likely be between 8,000-12,000 words in length and present original research on the topic. The end product should aim to have some influence on policy makers, community leaders or researcher within an urban context and speak to basic research and practical solution. The author(s) of the top rated proposal will receive a grant of $10,000.

Guidelines for Submitting Proposals/Applications

  • Proposals should not exceed 1,000 words (excluding references). Please include a cover page with the name, position, institution, and contact information for all authors. Proposals should identify the research focus and its potential for positively impacting freedom of expression in cities.
    • Applications should include a short itemized budget and a concise statement providing a rationale for the expenses listed in the budget. Funds may be expended in a variety of ways (e.g., to hire a research assistant or for a course by-out), provided that it is clear how doing so will enable the researcher(s) to complete the proposed work. Funds may not be used to purchase computer hardware. Funds awarded by the UCF may be utilized to offset fringe costs (such as those often involved in hiring a research assistant), but the Foundation will not cover overhead expenses (i.e., indirect costs). In any case, the total amount of the award will not exceed $10,000, which will include costs associated with presentation of the research at a UCF session. Funding may be dispersed in phases over the course of the project.
    • Applicants should include one letter of recommendation. The referee should be able to assess the significance and viability of the project described in the proposal, as well as the qualifications of the applicant as they pertain to the proposed work.
    • Proposals should be submitted to Harvey Jassem, at, or Matthew Matsaganis, at, no later than November 1, 2017. Funding decisions will be made by December 31, 2017. The final report must be completed and submitted to the UCF no later than November 1, 2018.
  • The UCF reserves the right to publish and disseminate the completed White Paper.
  • The primary author will be required to present his/her findings at a UCF panel.
  • Upon selection as the UCF White Paper competition winner, the author(s) will be recognized as Urban Communication Foundation Fellow/s.

Tanja Aitamurto Receives 2016 Gene Burd Outstanding Dissertation in Journalism Studies Award

Eike Rinke

Tanja Aitamurto

We are pleased to announce that Tanja Aitamurto been chosen as the recipient of the 2016 Gene Burd Outstanding Dissertation in Journalism Studies Award for her dissertation,” Crowdsourcing for Democracy: New Era in Policy-Making.“.

Tanja Aitamurto, Ph.D. is the Deputy Director and a Brown Fellow (postdoctoral) at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at the School of Engineering at Stanford. She examines how collective intelligence, whether gathered by crowdsourcing, crowdfunding or co-creation, impacts journalism, governance and product design, particularly media innovations. Her work has been published in several academic journals, such as the New Media and Society and Digital Journalism.

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