DeFleur Distinguished Lectures

The College of Communication annually invites two distinguished scholars from outside to share their outstanding scholarship, expertise, and experience with the BU community. In recognition of the pioneering and inspirational contributions of Dr. Melvin L. DeFleur to the field of mass communication research and his service as a venerable and inexhaustible member of COM’s Communication Research Center (CRC), the faculty members of the CRC have named this series in his honor.

Past Lectures

Breaking All the Rules: The Racial Grammar of Cancel Culture in American News Media

Dr. Meredith Clark
Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University

So-called ‘cancel culture’ has emerged as a 21st century moral panic that threatens to silence disempowered people who use social and digital media to amplify Black vernacular practice in pursuit of material consequences. In this talk, Dr. Meredith D. Clark dissects the disproportionate influence mainstream and partisan news media has had in separating digital accountability practice from its roots in Black culture and communities. Attendees will be challenged to consider the pervasive nature of coded racial language in their lives and work, and to interrogate their roles in dismantling white dominance in our collective reality.

Bringing People & Technology Together in a New Kind of Social Network

Dr. Deb Roy
Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, MIT
Director, MIT Center for Constructive Communication
Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School

In an era of growing social fragmentation, deteriorating trust, and information disorder, social media platforms add fuel to the fire and offer little hope in fostering understanding, deliberation, and real human connection. Even our in-person civic forums such as town halls and open meetings also fall short as civic spaces, attracting the “usual voices” of the same committed activists in what are often symbolic, yet ineffective efforts to capture real community input. Through a growing network of collaborators, we envision bringing people and technology together to strengthen democracy by creating the Local Voices Network (LVN), a new kind of social dialogue network. Our aim is to combine the depth and nuance of in-person dialogue with the power and scale of digital social networks to foster listening, empathy, and trust across divides. In this talk Dr. Roy will provide an overview of the LVN system, highlight some case studies, and sketch our research and
deployment plans.

Trust but Verify: The Role of Cognitive Skills & the Media Environment

Dr. Pippa Norris
Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

When citizens trust or mistrust government actors, under what circumstances do they make rational or erroneous judgments? In this talk, Dr. Pippa Norris presents a study (co-led by researchers from the University of Southampton and Canberra University) that focuses on several factors that potentially explain such errors, including a lack of cognitive capacity at an individual level and limits to the information environment, measured by macro-level indices of press freedom and mass communications in societies. This work draws on new cross-national time-series data from over 40 diverse societies contained in the World Values Surveys/European Values Surveys to explore how far—and under what conditions—subjective perceptions of institutional trust are related to the trustworthiness of national governments. Conclusions and implications are discussed.

More information about this research can be found at www.TrustGov.net.

The Resignation Industry and the Future of Media Studies

Dr. Joseph Turow
Robert Lewis Shayon Professor of Communication, University of Pennsylvania
April 2019

In this presentation, Dr. Joseph Turow discusses the “resignation industry” that is developing in tandem with—and overlapping with—the growth of the digital interactive media system. The resignation industry carries out pervasive and purposeful corporate undertakings to encourage people to give up thinking they can change data collection by businesses. These activities have the potential of corroding political and cultural democracy. We need a sociology of digital resignation to understand the industry. Research in this area is best carried out with a new understanding of the meaning and nature of “media research.”

                   

Lessons from Pelicans: Multilevel Theorizing for the Expertise Economy

Dr. Janet Fulk
Professor of Communication and Professor of Management & Organization, University of Southern California
October 2018

The recent proliferation of multilevel models and research in management-related fields provides a stimulus for enriching our understanding of organizational phenomena that have not previously been conceptualized as primarily multilevel in nature. One such concept is expertise. In an “expertise economy” where crowds are wise and organizational technology such as enterprise social media offer glimpses into how collective knowledge can be a harnessed, what is multilevel expertise? Drawing on evolutionary theory, Dr. Janet Fulk builds a model of multilevel expertise and suggests how research can address the cross-level and multilevel processes involved in the communication and practice of multilevel expertise in organizations.