Author: Sonya Donaldson
Welcome to the Media, Democracy, and Diversity Conference at the University of Virginia. The interdisciplinary, pan-University conference is the beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing conversation about the powerful forces shaping our contemporary world. This one-day event, on April 2, promises a stellar line-up of scholars and thinkers in a range of fields—from the humanities to business to politics to communications media.
You might ask, “Why a conference specifically on ‘media, democracy, and diversity?’” The short answer is, “Why not?” However, as we consider the multiple ways in which these areas of discourse have interacted, we cannot deny the visible and palpable social, political, and cultural shifts engendered in their intersection.
This conference, then, seeks to explore timely and, we believe, pertinent, issues such as media representations of Haiti before and after the earthquake; diversity for women in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math); gender identity and sexual diversity; mass media and racial representation; the disruptive power of new media technologies on business and politics; and the effects of visual narratives on patriarchal social orders.
As evidence by their titles, the panels have been shaped, in no small part by the participants’ knowledge of and interaction with media. The ways in which we engage in discourse about issues of equality, representation, democracy, and politics are tinged by our encounters, whether limited or wholly, with media technologies. “Media, Democracy, and Diversity” is our opportunity to tease out these connections.
The conference is structured on parallel tracks, so attendees have the opportunity to engage in a variety of ways. You can attend a single discussion for deep engagement with a topic, or visit a few to get a broad view of the conversations. Whichever mode you choose, the conference design ensures that you leave with a greater sense of the connections as well as the disruptions engendered by mass media and communication tools. Our hope is that this event will stimulate conversations beyond the borders of the university and Charlottesville community.
Here’s how you can ensure that the conversation continues:
1. Follow us on Facebook
2. Look for our hash tag on Twitter (#UvaDivConf).
3. Engage online as well as off: leave comments and suggestions; freely retweet; and share your images and videos of the conference on our Facebook page.
We look forward to the great conversations.
About the Author: Sonya is currently a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Virginia, where she teaches twentieth- and twenty-first century literature and a popular first-year writing course, “Technology and Identities/Tech & Sensibility.” She is also the Technology Editor at Black Enterprise magazine and a public speaker on a variety of tech issues: social media for entrepreneurs and small businesses, digital divide and access, women in technology, African American tech innovation, and technology and education.
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