111th Annual ECA Convention

Harboring Innovation

Baltimore, Maryland

Wednesday, April 1 – Sunday, April 5, 2020


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 111th Annual ECA Convention

Banner Logo 2020 Convention

Baltimore, Maryland

Wednesday, April 1 –  Sunday, April 5, 2020

Harboring Innovation

“Innovate”:  To make changes in something established, especially by introducing new ideas, methods, or activities.  To create transformation, revolution, metamorphosis. 

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, an area with one of our nation’s richest and most innovative histories, offers a unique setting for our discipline’s oldest existing association to gather and consider the ways in which we innovate (and need to do so).  In 1608, Captain John Smith sailed north from the newly formed Virginia Colony and described the wild hunting lands that were the future site of Baltimore as “not inhabited but navigable,” foreshadowing the kinds of visionary leadership, creativity, and innovation that has characterized Baltimore throughout its long and sometimes challenging history.  Baltimore seems to be a place that grows both in calculated ways and out of adversity:

-Baltimore is the place where Francis Scott Key’s The Star Spangled Banner was born. 

-Baltimore overcame division and ruin in a difficult, gradual recovery from the American Civil War. 

-Baltimore has innovated in front of, and in response to, shifts and disruptions in the economy, education, technology, and healthcare. 

-Baltimore was a model to the nation for its major renovation of neglected downtown and waterfront areas after World War II. 

-Baltimore has orchestrated an ongoing and evolving renaissance after the collapse of the American steel industry, led by visionaries such as Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.

-Baltimore is a hub of art (home to the American Visionary Art Museum among many others), culture, sports, maritime pursuits, food, and entertainment (Travel + Leisure even named Baltimore “the coolest city on the East Coast” and Zagat listed it as “one of the most exciting food cities” in the U.S.).

In these and other ways, Baltimore has time after time exemplified innovation.  Now a highly diversified economy, Baltimore has innovated across manufacturing, healthcare, apparel, education, finance, insurance, technology, and government sectors.  The city has many renowned destinations dedicated to art and culture, religion, sports, and nature.  Like the communication field, Baltimore is a diverse community that has kept itself current, forward-thinking, and exciting

Our Baltimore Inner Harbor convention and the “Harboring Innovation” theme provide us with the opportunity to consider the lessons the city has to offer communication scholars. 

I invite ECA interest groups and members to develop programming for the 2020 convention that focuses on how we have innovated and how we need to innovate to remain relevant, cutting-edge, and unique—especially in relation to other social science disciplines.  In what ways does our scholarship and teaching keep the field at the forefront of studying the powerful impact of public, private, and mediated messages on our relationships, organizations, communities, and the environment?  What disruptions are communication scholars, practitioners, and teachers responding to with innovative theories, questions, methods, data analysis techniques, and practices?  What opportunities exist for us to innovate with our research, service, pedagogy, and practice? What are you doing that is unique? How are you leading the way?  How are you responding to your environment to ensure that your work and our field are addressing the practical communication concerns of society that exist today and that might arise tomorrow? 

Our “Harboring Innovation” 2020 conference will provide a venue to showcase how we are innovating, and to deliberate the ways in which we must innovate to ensure that the communication discipline continues to make an important impact at all levels of society.

Jennifer Waldeck
First Vice President
Chapman University
waldeck@chapman.edu