Communication Ethics Conference Strikes a Chord with Students

by Tracy Prouty '09

The topic of ethics in communication is as broad as the study of communications itself. We communicate in indefinite ways through various media venues. This year, APU’s 22nd Annual David C. Bicker Communication Ethics Conference chose to expand the understanding of communication through the theme, “Ethical Dimensions of Popular Music.”

The conference kicked off with a student/faculty panel discussing the theme. The panel split into two groups: those who lived through the 60s and those more familiar with current music. The first group included Jim Willis, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Dan Pawley, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, and Monica Ganas, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Theater, Film, and Television. Michael Lee, professor in the School of Music, and junior, communication studies major Kyle Greenberg, who spoke on behalf of the students, filled the latter. Ray McCormick, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Communication Studies, served as moderator.
The panel compared the impact that music had on society in the 60s to that of today. Music in the 60s often addressed the struggles of the common person and united its listeners under a banner of social consciousness. Current music, it was proposed, does not seem to push for social causes as it used to.
“The Internet has made it easier to get behind a movement without commitment. I don’t see current music that unifies the culture like it used to,” said Greenberg.
No genre inspired more social movements in the 60s than folk. One band that impacted some APU faculty was the group We Five, who performed as part of the conference. The band, famous for their hit single, “You Were on My Mind,” treated students, faculty, and local fans to a concert followed by a question and answer session discussing the implications of being Christians in the secular music industry.
Keeping it in the family, the opening act was brother and sister duo, Jeremy and Jessica, the children of We Five founder Jerry Burgan and wife and lead singer Debbie Burgan. Their older brother, Chris Burgan, also plays in We Five as lead guitarist and pursues his own music on the side.
Between the two acts, Willis presented senior communication studies major Kim Wilcox with the David C. Bicker Distinguished Achievement Award. Wilcox received this award for her dedication to the study of communication and APU’s weekly newspaper The Clause. She has also consistently integrated ethical values into her work and conversation in and out of her classes.