Communication Ethics Conference Marks 25th Anniversary

by University Relations

The portrayal of women in today’s music videos. The effect of Facebook on users’ relationships. How fashion media influence women’s body images. These topics exemplify the scope of issues tackled at past annual David C. Bicker Communication Ethics conferences. David Bicker, Ph.D., the founding chair of the Department of Communication Studies, organized the first of these conferences at Azusa Pacific in 1988, and subsequent conferences still carry his name. This year’s event, slated for February 9 and themed “Ethics in Communication Praxis,” marks the 25th anniversary.

“The impetus for the conference was to give our students, and students from Southern California sister institutions, an opportunity to research and share their ideas about ethical communication in an environment that would welcome faith-based responses,” said Bicker. “It is a blessing to see how the conference continues to expand.”

The all-day event includes a panel of professors, journalists, and public relations professionals. Last fall, the department invited faculty and students to submit papers and presentations. The 2012 conference features keynote speaker Angela Laird Brenton, Ph.D., dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who teaches primarily in the area of conflict analysis and mediation, and focuses on conflict analysis in religious organizations.

“The conference provides a forum for students to think critically about real-world issues confronting the field of communication,” said Brooke Van Dam, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies and conference coordinator. “It is also a valuable opportunity for students to hear from scholars in the field.”

The free conference draws guests from other universities throughout Southern California. “People come to learn, and it provides a way for students to get involved and be recognized for their hard work,” said Van Dam. “It also helps our department highlight the impressive research done at APU.”

“We want the conference to serve as a marker for our department’s progress in scholarship, academic excellence, faith integration, and equipping students for lives of service,” said Bala Musa, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Communication Studies. “We also look forward to expanding the conference to a regional and national forum.”

“I’m excited for next year’s communication conference,” said Jared Thornton ’12, a communication studies major. “I enjoyed the presentations given by APU students last year, and it was interesting to hear about their research and ideas. I look forward to learning and benefiting from students’ research topics next year as well.”

In addition to providing an opportunity for students to share their research at each year’s conference, the department also presents the David C. Bicker Distinguished Achievement Award to a senior student, selected by department faculty, who excels academically, demonstrates the ability to integrate faith and learning, and has the potential to make a Christ-centered change in the world. “The winner of the achievement award is someone who will have his or her heart in whatever work he or she decides to do,” said Van Dam. “It will be a student who will go on to make an impact.”

Originally published in the Winter '11 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.