12th Annual Aspen Conference

July 25-27, 2015, The Gant Aspen


2015 Aspen Conference on Engaged Scholarship
Constructing Organizational Resilience: Engaging Public, Private, and Nonprofit Communities

July 25-27, 2015
Gant Hotel
610 S. West End
Aspen, CO

The Aspen Conference has existed for over a decade focusing on the practice of engaged scholarship in organizational communication. We invite academics and practitioners, graduate students and faculty, and anyone who is passionate about developing new models of engaged scholarship aimed at addressing significant cultural, political, and social issues that confront contemporary society. Your participation may range from simply attending the conference and seeking inspiration from other participants or presenting your own research or practice to conference participants to receive feedback and reflections on how to take it further. The choice is yours. Our conference schedule combines panel presentations regarding the conference theme, breakout sessions for participants to present their work, and case studies to create an interactive integrated experience that allows participants to think deeply about engaged scholarship and how these ideas and practices play out in their professional lives.

2015 Conference Theme: Constructing Organizational Resilience

Resilience is a term used in different ways by different discourse communities and is not easily defined. From the Latin resilire (to "leap back"), most uses of the term evoke the ability of individuals or groups to withstand or recover quickly from adversity. Within the social and behavioral sciences, interest in the concept of resilience is rapidly expanding. Resilience has emerged as a key concern of practitioners and policymakers in the fields of public health, environmental science, emergency management, engineering, and communication among many others.

The turn toward resilience recognizes in part circulating discourses about increases in the frequency and severity of economic, social, and environmental perturbations. If resilience may be thought of as bouncing back, then the growing interest in it reflects a growing sense that we have much from which we need to or will need to recover. Disruption and disaster of varying degrees seem the norm, and communities and organizations are coalescing around efforts to make their responses more robust. The term itself is plastic enough to encompass scholarship across disciplines and levels of analysis. Families, communities, and firms share an interest in resilience.

At the same time, resilience as a watchword implies particular ways of thinking about problems and problem solving and what it means to survive and thrive. Even as resilience evokes the malaise of risk and insecurity that seems common today, it frames it in terms of the possibility for normalcy in the out of the ordinary, certainty in uncertainty, and hope and efficacy in the face of helplessness. The notion of being resilient in the absence of a particular problem or in the presence of so many also raises a paradox: How can we be resilient at once to everything or nothing?

In her 2010 National Communication Association Presidential Address, Buzzanell argued that communicative theorizing on resilience should be fundamentally grounded in messages, discourse, and narrative. Buzzanell urged scholars to figure out "what resilience looks like in different contexts, how the processes unfold, and how we can envision resilience as a design aspect rather than mistaking the entity or person for the process" (p. 3). Toward this end, the 2015 Aspen Conference invites scholars interested in the communicative accomplishment of organizational resilience to explore the idea and multiple approaches to conceptualizing, studying, and implementing resilience. This year's conference focuses on how communication scholars can study, promote, or critique the antecedents, processes, and outcomes of community, organizational, and institutional resilience. Resilience confers both benefits and limitations. Engaged research is needed to explore how and with what consequence resilience is increasingly structuring a wide swath of academic inquiry, public policy, and organizational practice.

We see the conference addressing questions such as

• What are the meanings of resilience and how do different meanings operate in theory and practice?
• What communication dilemmas are inherent to resilience and how do problems of resilience have a communicative core?
• How might engaged communication scholarship encourage resilience?
• What does a focus on resilience obscure?

Call for "Projects in Process" Proposals

The event organizers are currently welcoming proposals for "Projects in Process" presentations. This is a call for two-page proposals from scholars (both students and faculty) describing engaged work which is recently completed or in progress. The term "engaged work" is meant to be inclusive of all types of projects and methodologies. The selection committee will prioritize those proposals that most closely align to the conference theme of "resilience." At the Aspen Conference, selected projects will be presented in a highly interactive discussion format in small table settings with a variety of senior scholars who support engaged work.

The two-page project descriptions should be submitted via email to Anna Wiederhold (awiederhold@unr.edu) by April 1, 2015. For scholars whose projects are selected, the conference fee will be waived. Notification of project acceptance will be by May 1, 2015.

For More Information:

For additional information regarding registration, confirmed presenters, and a tentative schedule, please go to our website at http://www.uccs.edu/~aspen/.

Aspen Conference Draft Schedule

Saturday, July 25, 2015
1:00pm-1:30pm Check in
1:30pm-2:00pm Welcome and Orientation
2:00pm-4:00pm Participant research presentations on engaged scholarship: Projects in Process
4:00pm-5:30pm Panel discussion on organizational and community resilience
5:30pm-7:30pm Cocktail reception

Sunday, July 26, 2015
8:00am Breakfast on your own
8:30am-10:00 am Keynote presentation
10:00am-12:00pm Panel discussion on organizational community resilience
Lunch provided
12:30pm-4:00pm Plenary Case Presentation
4:00pm-5:00pm Participant research presentations on engaged scholarship: Projects in Process
Dinner on your own

Monday, July 27, 2015
8:30am-12:00pm Plenary Session: What can engaged scholarship look like in the future? The morning session will explore possible future areas for development regarding engaged scholarship. The focus will be on articulating potential resources, projects, collaborations, and events that will move engaged work further in organizational communication.


For more information, contact:

Kathy Griffith
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
(719) 255-3119