An international collection of over 80 communication and political science scholars gathered at the Annenberg School on August 27th for the second annual American Political Science Association Pre-Conference on Political Communication. Focused around the theme "Mass Communication and Civic Engagement," the event was sponsored jointly by the Annenberg School, hosted by Vincent Price, and the APSA Political Communication Section, chaired by Holli Semetko (Emory University). Diana Owen (Georgetown University) organized the pre-conference program, while ASC’s Kate Kenski, Lilach Nir, and Danna Goldthwaite Young served as coordinators. Funding for the event was also generously contributed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Michael X. Delli Carpini, Dean of the Annenberg School, gave the keynote address, entitled "Mediating Political Engagement: The Impact of Communication on Citizens’ Involvement in Political and Civic Life." In his address, Delli Carpini emphasized the need to expand and clarify our notions of what constitutes both “civic engagement” and “politically relevant media.”
The program featured panels on topics including, "Civics at Annenberg," "Deliberative Practice and Political Science," "Civic Engagement Online," "Communications and Electoral Engagement," "Comparative Studies of Communication and Civic Engagement," and "Mass Media and Youth Political Engagement." In all, nearly two dozen research papers, summarizing results from projects conducted in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, were presented and discussed by conference participants.
“This was a lively and productive exchange among leading scholars who have been grappling with ways of using communication more effectively to enhance civic life,” said Price, “and with Annenberg’s many ongoing research projects in the area, it was only natural that the APSA, the School and the Policy Center should collaborate in making it happen.” In addition to reports on Annenberg’s Student Voices project, Electronic Dialogue project, and the National Annenberg Election Survey, the event also showcased the work of more than a half-dozen of the School’s students and recent graduates.