Public Interest Communications Summer Institute Program 2023


Updated: November 8, 2023

All sessions and Wednesday dinner will be held in the University of Houston Hilton Shamrock Ballroom.

All times below are Central Daylight Time unless otherwise noted.

  • Tuesday, June 13
    • 4-4:30 p.m.: “Happy Half Hour” meet and greet for online attendees
    • 6:30-8 p.m.: Welcome Reception
  • Wednesday, June 14
    • 8:30 a.m.: Coffee and Breakfast Snacks
    • 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Sessions
    • 6:15-8:30 p.m.: Dinner and Keynote 
  • Thursday, June 15 
    • 8:30 a.m.: Coffee and Breakfast Snacks
    • 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Sessions
  • Friday, June 16 – Optional Syllabus Workshop, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 

Tuesday, June 13 (6:30-8 p.m.)

Reception. Welcome travelers! Come say hello and get something to eat.

For online attendees: Hop online for a “Happy Half Hour” on Tuesday from 5-5:30 p.m. ET/4-4:30 p.m. CT/2-2:30 p.m. PT. Check your email for the Zoom access information.

Wednesday, June 14

8:30 a.m. – Coffee and breakfast refreshments

9 a.m. – Welcome with Jen Vardeman and Hub Brown

9:30-10:45 a.m. – Speaker session: Where Public Interest Communications and activism come together: Implications for scholars and educators

Public interest communicators are not just communicators. In many cases, particularly when it comes to policy change, they must understand activism to be effective in achieving positive social change. What does that mean for public interest communications scholars and educators? Must they be activists as well? In this discussion, we explore the connection between public interest communications and activism.

Moderator: Erin Hart
Speakers: Álvaro Huerta, Chris Valdez, E. Ciszek 

11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Speaker session: Community engaged scholarship and public interest communications: How scholars and communities work together

We will explore how scholars conduct research and teach in collaboration with organizations working in the public interest.

Moderator: Julia Fraustino
Speakers: Carmen Gonzalez, Wenlin Liu, George Villanueva

Lunch (on your own) 12:15-1:15 p.m.

1:15-2:45 p.m. – Speaker session: Public interest technology: The emergence of a new academic discipline and its relationship to public interest communications

We will hear from scholars who are building the emerging academic discipline of public interest technology. We’ll hear how experts define it and we’ll explore how it intersects with public interest communications.

Moderator: Necole Norris
Speakers: Mahmud Farooque, Carlos Genatios, Amy Sanders

3-4:15 p.m. – Speaker session: Navigating the challenges of teaching in adverse conditions

In some states, speaking in the classroom about key issues of the day is challenging. Some state legislatures are trying to restrict what courses universities teach and what professors can say. How does one navigate these challenges? We’ll hear from faculty and administrators.

Moderator: Gina Baleria
Speakers: Hub Brown, Andrea OtáñezSerbino Sandifer-Walker 

Video not available.

4:15-5 p.m. – Lightning networking to foster new collaborative relationships!

5-6 p.m. – Relax

6:15-7:30 p.m. – Gather for refreshments, dinner and a cARTography exhibit.

7:30 – Remarks by Pamela Quiroz, followed by keynote address by Meme Styles with introduction by Natalie Tindall

Thursday, June 15

8:30 a.m. – Coffee and breakfast refreshments

9-10 a.m. – Conversation with researcher/scholar/activist Urmitapa Dutta and Abdul Kalam Azad, representing the Miya community

Moderator: Rachel Grant

We will talk to researcher Urmitapa Dutta, who uses her work to bolster communities, as well as one or two representatives from organizations in India she partners with.

10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Building real-world connections between researchers and practitioners

Public interest communicators need the latest research to help them be more effective in their work, but it’s difficult to find and even harder to access. Academic researchers want to help practitioners do their work, but often they don’t know how to connect or provide research in a way that practitioners can easily use. After introducing and framing our challenges, we’ll bring attendees together in small groups with a challenge: How can we bridge this divide?

Moderator: Jessie Landerman
Speakers: Christine Buckley, Teresa Gonzales, Jaime Gonzalez, Cesar Espinosa

Lunch Provided (12:30-1:30 p.m.)

1:30-2:45 p.m. – Speaker session: What should a public interest communications curriculum include?

We will provide tangible takeaways for attendees who are interested in weaving public interest communications into their courses. Speakers will offer suggestions for readings and assignments, as well as discuss their own experiences developing curricula that could be used across communication disciplines.

Moderator: Myiah Hutchens
Speakers: Carrie P. Freeman, Cody Hays, Ann Searight, Natalie Tindall

2:55-4:10 p.m. – Speaker session: Advocacy, journalism and the public interest

We will explore the intersections of journalism and advocacy, and discuss the role of journalism in advancing social justice and engaging communities. We’ll also delve into where journalism and public interest communications intersect.

Moderator: Summer Harlow
Speakers: Loyce Gayo, Aubrey Nagle, Matt Sheehan, Salwa Yordi

4:15-4:45 p.m. Wrap-up: Moving forward

4:45-5:30 p.m. – Grad student meeting on building a network

6 p.m. – Off-campus excursion to the Climate Justice Museum

Dinner – Explore Houston on your own! Those attending the museum tour will find a place nearby

Friday, June 16 (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Optional syllabus development workshop

For those who want to take a deep dive into syllabus development, our half day Friday will be devoted to workshopping and creating syllabi. Those who want to take advantage of this will be asked to supply syllabi in advance or provide information about what kind of course they want to create so we can ensure a productive experience for all.