Communication Academics Gather to Explore Communication Incoherences in Today’s Complex World

Abigail Oyinkan Olajire
4 min readMay 15, 2024


By Abigail Olajire

At one of the conference sessions

In April, communication researchers across the United States gathered at Grand Rapids for the annual regional research conference in communication studies.

The Central State Communication Association (CSCA), a regional conference for institutions in the Mid-western states in the US held its 93rd annual meeting at the Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapid, Michigan in the United States between Wednesday, April 3rd, and Sunday, April 7th, 2024.

The 13 mid-western states represented in CSCA include North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio states.

The theme for this conference was Incoherence: Failure, Future and Forgotten Messages. In a goodwill message from Dr. Ahmet Atay, the CSCA president, expressed excitement about every scholar “who is returning to “home,” CSCA, for another fantastic gathering” to share diverse scholarly work centered around the varying degrees of incoherences in our complex and diverse world.

Theme of the conference

The conference was established in 1931 to promote the communication discipline in education, scholarly and professional endeavors. This year, over 750 graduate students, faculty members, publishers, and K-12 educators from the 13 Mid-Western states were present. Currently, there are over 35 colleges and universities that are official members of CSCA.

This event was a fine mix of diverse programs including research panels, award presentations, Great Ideas For Teaching panels, pre-conference presentations, discussion panels, and caucus business meetings where diverse cutting-edge research across communication concepts and ideas, and interdisciplinary opportunities were discussed.

At one of the panel sessions (Photo credit: CSCA Facebook account)
A professor receiving a research award (Photo credit: CSCA Facebook account)

There were also panel sessions where diverse research from faculty and graduate students was discussed. Participants had the opportunity to meet journal editors of diverse communication journals to discuss strategies to deal with the incoherence of double reviewers in journal submissions. Below, a graduate student from one of the universities is a snippet of one of the health communication panel sessions.

A graduate student presentation at the conference

One of the highlights of the conference was the Hall of Fame luncheon where five distinguished professors were inducted into the CSCA Hall of Fame, presentation of research awards, and passing on the baton of leadership to the new President of CSCA.

List of 2024 CSCA Hall of Fame inductees

The five professors include Dawn Braithwaite, a professor emerita at the University of Nebraska Lincoln who studies how individuals in personal and family relationships communicate and negotiate family change and challenges especially in understudied and changing families such as stepfamilies and among voluntary (fictive) kin. Chad Edwards from Western Michigan University is a communication professor who studies human-machine communication and AI interactions.

Debra Ford is an organizational communications associate professor who studies how leading, team(ing), and teaching/learning are created through and influenced by communication. John Heineman is a retired high school teacher and Shawn T. Wahl’s research focuses on communication education, college teaching, university leadership, and the intercultural dimensions of higher education. The video below is a part of the appreciation message from one of the recipients of the award- Dawn Braithwaite

Many scholars were recognized with diverse awards for their outstanding scholarly contributions to the field including the Kay Award for Community Engagement and Applied Communication Scholarship, the Person and Nelson Award for early academics who are showing distinction as teachers, the Cooper Award for exceptional graduate assistants at the master’s and doctoral level, the Communication Studies Article of the Year, the Federation Prize for a novel research proposal that has the potential to contribute to advancing knowledge in communication.

A graduate student receiving an award (Photo credit: CSCA Facebook account)

The was also the transfer of leadership baton for the 2024–2025 academic year from Dr Ahmet to Kathy Denker who previously served as the first vice president of the association.

L-R- Incoming President of CSCA (Dr. Katherine Denker); Outgoing Executive Director (Dr. Tiffany Wang); Outgoing President of CSCA Dr. Ahmet Atay (Photo credit: CSCA Facebook account)

The event climaxed with a presidential dinner to celebrate the works of the outgoing president, Dr Ahmet.

Indeed, participants left Grand Rapids with optimism, newfound inspiration, and connections for future collaborations that would push the boundaries of our knowledge and underscore the critical role of communication in everyday life including health, organization, crisis, family, and interpersonal relationships, as well as shape the trajectory of communication studies globally.



Abigail Oyinkan Olajire

I am a health communication researcher interested in creating and implementing cultural competent solutions to health problems for underserved communities.