Communication Conference Brings Student Scholars

This year marked 35 years of the biennial Wake Forest Universtiy Argumentation Conference, which elicits scholars, students and other individuals that have a genuine interest in the progress of communication and scholarship in argumentation. On Friday, April 6, scholars in the field of communication traveled to the Wake Forest campus from around the world to present their research while engaging their audiences.

Not only was the three-day event filled with panels of academics, it also included workshops led by world-renowned argumentation scholars such as Thomas Goodnight, David Hingstman and Franz van Eemeren.

In addition, there were various opportunities for all attendees to engage in social interaction with people of similar intellectual interest. The conference also included a banquet and several receptions to foster community and conversation.

Students in the “Great Teachers” course taught by Dr. Alessandra Von Burg played a large role in planning and organizing the conference, along with hosting the three “Great Teachers.”

Over the course of this semester, the students studied the works of Dr. Takeshi Suzuki, Dr. Sara Rubinelli and Dr. Gordon Mitchell and later hosted the three keynote speakers for the event.

The keynote speakers all spoke on research in their areas of expertise. Suzuki offered his research on “Arguments as Potential” and Rubinelli discussed “Argumentation in Online Healthcare Communication.”

After presenting on “The Hippocratic Turn in Digital Design,” Mitchell, a Wake Forest alum, expressed enthusiasm about being back at his alma mater for the event. Additionally, he was adamant in stressing the importance of the Argumentation Conference.

“I think this is a very important conference,” Mitchell said. “Partly because we have to figure out ways to actively involve undergraduate students in the research enterprise. Initiatives like this link together undergraduates with scholars in a way that introduces the students to the process of research, which is very important.”

Mitchell is a personal witness of the great amount of growth in Wake Forest Debate, communication and in the conference.

“This is reminding people that argumentation has a scholarly interface,” Mitchell said. “It has relevance and sophisticated rigorous analysis of argumentative artifacts.”

Many Wake Forest students, faculty and alumni participated as panelists and presenters. Communication faculty members Dr. Jarrod Atchison and Dr. Michael Hazen spoke on panels to represent Wake Forest. Undergraduates Varun Reddy (’19), Char Van Schenck (‘19) and Kate Shapiro (’19) along with graduate students Pablo Gannon (’19) and Chloe Pearson (’19), all served on panels among distinguished scholars in communication.

Dr. Mitchell provided advice for students pursuing higher education in communication and otherwise. “Networking is possible and really rewarding,” Mitchell said. “You’re able to reach out to scholars in other parts of the world, make contact and suggest collaboration, and share your interests that can really yield a kind of connection that can make academic study more sustainable, more enriching and more valuable.”