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Schedule

Friday, April 20 
TimeEvent
10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Reception
10 – 10:45 a.m.

How to Save your Hearing

Led by NU’s faculty audiologists, this seminar discussed how to prevent hearing loss and what to do when you first notice difficulty hearing.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Backstage Pass to Healthy Communication

Faculty and students of SoC’s Roxelyn & Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders led 45-minute tours of the cutting-edge clinic, NUCASLL. Tours included a discussion on how NU experts are making a difference in the lives of patients living with communicative disorders including: hearing loss, aphasia, speech-language disorders, stuttering, swallowing issues, and voice disorders.

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Measuring and Treating Dysphagia

Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) place heavy health, quality, and cost burdens on millions of patients across the lifespan. This session, led by renowned Northwestern researcher Bonnie Martin-Harris, highlighted the history and global impact of swallowing research initiated by Dr. Jeri Logemann in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University. The progression and influence of this research by her mentees and scientific collaborators on development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics was presented.

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.

Algorithms Everywhere

This short workshop was designed to give guests a glimpse into the way that algorithms have become a modern mediator of culture. Graduate students researching under Communication Studies associate professor Jeremy Birnholtz demonstrated and discussed common ways that cultural values are encoded and processed by algorithms and served back to us by companies like Netflix and Spotify. Examples from the Netflix Prize were used to illustrate the challenges of interpreting user behavior in the design of algorithms for recommending movies. Participants in this workshop examined a student-designed a web app created to decipher a common and simple machine-learning algorithm. Guests learned how challenging it can be to avoid imposing personal cultural values on the design of a system meant for helping a culturally diverse public navigate — in this case, the millions of songs that are often available to them through services like Spotify, Google Play, or Pandora.

11 – 11:45 a.m.

The Healthy Voice

NU’s expert speech-language pathology faculty discussed how to best take care of your vocal cords and maintain vocal health.

11 a.m. – Noon

Creative Entrepreneurship: How a Startup Mindset can Help Artists Succeed

An entrepreneurial mindset can give artists a much-needed edge to succeed in creative industries. The Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is dedicated to interdisciplinary, experiential entrepreneurship education for all students at Northwestern. We believe bringing business and technical skills to students from the arts will not only provide a pathway to a successful career, but will also inspire interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation that has the potential to truly transform our cultural and creative institutions.

This panel highlighted the Farley Center’s partnership with the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, as well as courses at the undergraduate level designed for artists. Faculty and students pioneering work at the intersection of the arts, entrepreneurship, and technology presented.

Noon – 12:45 p.m.

Toys to Talk About

Expert speech-language pathologists and audiologists shared what toys and games are best to promote children’s speech-language and cognitive development.

12:30 – 1:45 p.m.

Deep Space Teamwork

Are we really going to Mars? The astronautical community certainly believes the answer is “yes.” Scientists all over the world are solving puzzles related to rocket reusability, human resistance to radiation exposure, and terraforming Mars to warm it up and give it a breathable atmosphere. The scientific challenges of a Mars mission are not confined to physical science and engineering. Once the rockets are built and tested, we will ultimately be sending human teams off to explore the galaxy. A central mission parameter for deep space exploration is teamwork. Communication Studies Professors Leslie DeChurch and Noshir Contractor are working with NASA to assemble and support inter-planetary dream teams. This session, discussed the current plans for space travel and colonization, provided a behind the scenes look at how we are designing teams, and helped guests design dream teams back on Earth.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Student Film Festival and Showcase: Revelations

Professors from the RTVF department — including associate professor Kyle Henry and assistant professor JP Sniadecki — introduced an eclectic line-up of recent award-winning student and alumni short works. From webisodes to animations, documentaries to narrative fictions, these shorts have garnered attention and launched the careers of recent graduates at such high-profile festivals as Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs, San Sebastian, Frameline, IDFA, Sidewalk, SXSW and many others. The program was hosted by RTVF Department Chair David E. Tolchinsky, other RTVF faculty, and special guests.

“Revelations” presented a program of films/videos from the Department of Radio/TV/Film made by undergraduates, graduates, and alumni. From improvisational comedy to dark drama and experimental documentary, each work tells a story about secrets, lies, and intimate confessions.

1 – 1:45 p.m.

Developing Innovative and Entrepreneurial Creative Sector Leaders

An overview of the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program was presented. The program provides foundational training for rising creative sector leaders in the business, entrepreneurial, and civic aspects of arts, entertainment, and media.

2 – 3:30 p.m.

Rocky Wirtz on Rebuilding the Blackhawks

Northwestern School of Communication alumnus and University Trustee Rocky Wirtz (C75) is one of the savviest minds in organizational leadership. As the principal owner and chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks and its parent company, Wirtz took a losing team and quickly turned it into a Stanley Cup-winning club and marketing sensation. Michelle Shumate, Communication Studies professor and faculty director of our Masters of Science in Communication program, sat down with Wirtz for a candid discussion about leadership, effective reorganization, and change management.

2 – 3:30 p.m.

Acting the Northwestern Way

Cindy Gold conducted a workshop for alumni. Gold demonstrated current techniques with current undergraduate students, including improvisation, mask work, and Laban effort factors. Alumni were invited to participate or observe.

2 – 3 p.m.

Children and Media: Ellen Wartella on the Latest Findings

The Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Communication and the chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Ellen Wartella, is a world-renowned expert on media exposure in children and adolescents. She directs the Center on Media and Human Development, which researches such topics as food marketing to youth, media use by teachers in the classroom, effectively teaching reproductive health through educational video shorts, and engaging African American youth through digital music programs. Wartella’s presentation used research-backed analysis to address the value of television, tablets, and advertising targeted to children, and explored how society is debating these issues.

3 – 4 p.m.

Student Film Festival and Showcase: Skills

Professors from the RTVF department — including associate professor Kyle Henry and assistant professor JP Sniadecki — introduced an eclectic line-up of recent award-winning student and alumni short works. From webisodes to animations, documentaries to narrative fictions, these shorts have garnered attention and launched the careers of recent graduates at such high-profile festivals as Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs, San Sebastian, Frameline, IDFA, Sidewalk, SXSW and many others. The program was hosted by RTVF Department Chair David E. Tolchinsky, other RTVF faculty, and special guests.

“Skills” comprised live-action, animated and documentary shorts exploring aspects of craft, from trapeze artists and musicians to taxidermists and unhappy campers.

4 – 5 p.m.

Waa-Mu Sneak Peak: “Manhattan Miracle” Open Rehearsal

Guests were treated to an exclusive first look at the 2018 Waa-Mu Show, “Manhattan Miracle,” through an exciting and rare open rehearsal. Guests enjoyed a selection of songs and scenes from this extraordinary student-driven musical tradition, and got a sneak peak at a working rehearsal just a few weeks before the show opens. Known as “the greatest college show in America,” Waa-Mu brings together 200 undergraduates annually to write, orchestrate, manage, choreograph, design and, of course, perform an original work of musical theatre.

4 – 5:30 p.m.

Building your Brand as a Communication Professional

Communicating who you are and the value you bring has never been more important. Whether seeking a new job or promotion, looking to contribute your expertise to a volunteer organization, or capitalizing on an opportunity to reflect your work, Personal Branding provides a critical opportunity to learn and grow. In this Quick-Stop MSC (MS in Communication) Custom Workshop, guests learned: strategies to move beyond the thin veneer of self-promotion and dig deep into your authentic self; an approach to completing a personal brand audit; and concrete and actionable steps to creating or improving your brand.

The MSC Branding Workshop was led by esteemed alumna Jeanne Sparrow (WCAS91, MSC15) who has spent three decades in media as an Emmy-winning television host, reporter, and radio personality in Chicago. She is the founder of communications consulting firm The Spoken Bird, providing media and presentation training to empower people with the skills they need to tell their stories themselves in a better way to larger audiences.

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.CommFest Welcome Reception/Party
8 – 10 p.m.Reunions: Theatre (Wirtz Second Floor), RTVF (Wirtz Second Floor), WNUR (Louis Hall), Debate (Hardy House), and MFA Writing (John Evans Center)
Saturday, April 21 
TimeEvent
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.Reception
9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Student Film Festival and Showcase: Bonds

Professors from the RTVF department — including associate professor Kyle Henry and assistant professor JP Sniadecki — introduced an eclectic line-up of recent award-winning student and alumni short works. From webisodes to animations, documentaries to narrative fictions, these shorts have garnered attention and launched the careers of recent graduates at such high-profile festivals as Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs, San Sebastian, Frameline, IDFA, Sidewalk, SXSW and many others. The program was hosted by RTVF Department Chair David E. Tolchinsky, other RTVF faculty, and special guests.

“Bonds” included narrative and documentary films exploring how people negotiate their ties to friends, neighbors, families, and communities.

10 – 11 a.m.

“Lights, Camera, Wildcats!”

University Archivist Kevin Leonard (WCAS77, GWCAS82) took a fascinating look at Northwestern’s rich history as a pipeline to Hollywood. Leonard explored the accomplishments of alumni leaders in the arts, presented memorabilia from the University’s extensive archives, and explored the University’s outsized impact on film and television from 1910 to the present.

10 – 10:45 a.m.

How to Save Your Hearing

Led by NU’s faculty audiologists, this seminar discussed how to prevent hearing loss and what to do when you first notice difficulty hearing.

10 – 10:45 a.m.

Storytelling at the Heart of It All: Family Fun for Everyone

This interactive session brought faculty and students together to perform songs, stories, and more for Wildcats of all ages. Folk tales, family stories, sing-a-long songs, and a surprise or two — this program welcomed everybody.

10 – 11:30 a.m.

When Words and Actions Matter Most: How to Talk to Patients and Families Who Have Been Harmed by Medical Care

Millions of Americans are harmed by medical care each year. The traditional reaction from hospitals and health systems is to “deny and defend” any claims of wrongdoing. The result is like pouring salt into the wounds of affected patients and families. A new alternative is emerging, a comprehensive, principled, and systematic approach to the prevention and response to harm. We call it CANDOR, an acronym that stands for Communication and Optimal Resolution. The core of this approach is to be open, truthful, and transparent with patients and families beginning within an hour of the harmful event and continuing until the patient and family are satisfied with the resolution. This is a process that helps organizations normalize compassionate honesty. Most health professionals have not been trained to have these very difficult conversations. For the past 10 years, Bruce Lambert, PhD and his colleague Tim McDonald, MD have been traveling around the country teaching health professionals how communicate with patents and families who have been harmed. Lambert and guests explored ways in which physician-patient communication can be improved, and what health care consumers can do to better advocate for their and their loved ones’ needs.

11 – 11:45 a.m.

The Healthy Voice

NU’s expert speech-language pathology faculty discussed how to best take care of your vocal cords and maintain vocal health.

11 – 11:45 a.m.

Why We Put Stories into the World

This multi-media presentation (think TED Talk) used quotes, poetry, video, storytelling, and conversation to bring guests to an understanding of the importance of being modern-day Johnny Appleseeds — planting seeds of the arts for young people everywhere we go.

11 a.m. – Noon

Student Film Festival and Showcase: Revelations

Professors from the RTVF department — including associate professor Kyle Henry and assistant professor JP Sniadecki — introduced an eclectic line-up of recent award-winning student and alumni short works. From webisodes to animations, documentaries to narrative fictions, these shorts have garnered attention and launched the careers of recent graduates at such high-profile festivals as Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs, San Sebastian, Frameline, IDFA, Sidewalk, SXSW and many others. The program was hosted by RTVF Department Chair David E. Tolchinsky, other RTVF faculty, and special guests.

“Revelations” presented a program of films/videos from the Department of Radio/TV/Film made by undergraduates, graduates, and alumni. From improvisational comedy to dark drama and experimental documentary, each work tells a story about secrets, lies, and intimate confessions.

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Trump and the Media: Understanding the Present and Future of the News and Social Media

Communication Studies professor and author Pablo Boczkowski moderated a discussion among media experts about President Donald Trump and his relationship with the press. The panelists — Rod Benson (New York University), Gina Neff (University of Oxford), Sue Robinson (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Michael Schudson (Columbia University) — are contributors to Trump and the Media, the volume that Boczkowski co-edited together with Zizi Papacharissi.

Noon – 12:45 p.m.

Toys to Talk About

Expert speech-language pathologists and audiologists shared what toys and games are best to promote children’s speech-language and cognitive development.

12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

The Art of Puppetry: Discussion with a “War Horse” Puppeteer and More

This event featured Northwestern Department of Theatre associate professor and theatre historian Dassia Posner in conversation with South African playwright, scholar, and Northwestern alumna Jane Taylor (author of Ubu and the Truth Commission) and U.S.-based puppeteer and director Tom Lee (puppeteer in War Horse on Broadway). The conversation explored the imaginative, cultural, and ethical relevance of contemporary puppetry and object theatre, punctuated by images of the artists’ past and current projects and a live demonstration of Japanese traditional puppetry.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Taking Northwestern Theatre Downtown: A Conversation with Anna Shapiro

Dean Barbara O’Keefe interviewed Tony Award-winning theatre professor Anna Shapiro about becoming artistic director at Steppenwolf Theatre and building the graduate theatre program at Northwestern. They also discussed new plans to create a new center for performing and media arts on Northwestern’s Chicago campus. Anna offered the department’s vision for a new graduate program in acting, to be based in the new center, as well as opportunities for collaborations with Chicago arts institutions.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

You are The Ocean: Interactive Art in Virtual Worlds

The human body does not begin and end with the skin. The boundary between the human body and the rest of the world is permeable. You are the Ocean, a large-scale interactive installation created by assistant professor of Radio/Television/Film Ozge Samanci, generates ocean waves and clouds in response to brain waves of a single participant. Water, light, clouds, and lightning are realistically simulated by computer code. A participant wore an EEG (Electroencephalography) headset that measures the user’s approximate attention and meditation levels via brain waves. Through relaxation and concentration, the participant controlled the water and sky. Attention level affects storminess: with higher concentration, the waves get higher and the clouds thicken. By calming the mind, the participant created a calm ocean. Samanci collaborated with Dance Program Director Joel Valentin-Martinez for this event.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Student Film Festival and Showcase: Skills

Professors from the RTVF department — including associate professor Kyle Henry and assistant professor JP Sniadecki — introduced an eclectic line-up of recent award-winning student and alumni short works. From webisodes to animations, documentaries to narrative fictions, these shorts have garnered attention and launched the careers of recent graduates at such high-profile festivals as Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs, San Sebastian, Frameline, IDFA, Sidewalk, SXSW and many others. The program was hosted by RTVF Department Chair David E. Tolchinsky, other RTVF faculty, and special guests.

“Skills” comprised live-action, animated and documentary shorts exploring aspects of craft, from trapeze artists and musicians to taxidermists and unhappy campers.

1 – 2:30 p.m.

Oxford-Style Debate: Can We Deliver Universal Healthcare?

The legendary Northwestern Debate Society showcased the best of its current and former talent in an Oxford-style debate, where teams take and argue for opposing sides of pressing issues in public policy. Our multiple national championship-winning debaters debated the topic of health care and whether or not the United States should establish a comprehensive national health insurance policy.​ Joined by coaches and esteemed alumni, the event showcased how the Debate Society continues to foster an unparalleled climate of competitive success for its students and alumni.

1:30 – 3 p.m.

What Sound Processing in the Brain Can Reveal about Sports Concussion

A preeminent expert on the effects of sound and music on the brain, Nina Kraus is the Hugh Knowles Chair and professor of neurobiology and otolaryngology. A sought-after speaker the world over, she is frequently quoted in major media outlets, and her recent collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the Kennedy Center saw her delivering a lecture onstage alongside soprano Renée Fleming. Kraus’s notable recent research focuses on concussions, and she has partnered with Northwestern Athletics to study the injury’s effects on the brain in all levels of severity. She was joined by Tory Lindley MA ATC, Northwestern’s Associate Athletic Director, Director of AT and head football AT and by Cynthia LaBella, M.D., pediatrician and director of Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Sports Medicine Clinic.

1:30 – 3 p.m.

Open Television Tonight: How Can Web Distribution Disrupt the Television Business?

Assistant professor of Communication Studies Aymar Jean Christian screened new TV shows and mapped the innovative new world of “indie TV,” short-form series produced by creators and artists outside Hollywood’s established supply chains. Based on research in his newly published book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television, Christian started a research platform, OTV | Open Television, to develop a diverse slate of Chicago artists and understand the value of smaller scale TV. Presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago for the second time in March, Open Television Tonight will feature screenings of past hit programs, including the Emmy-nominated Brown Girls, exclusive previews of upcoming releases and a discussion with artists who are the next-generation of TV creators.

2 – 3 p.m.

American Music Theatre Project Showcase

The American Music Theatre Project is Northwestern’s new-musical development initiative, which pairs emerging professional writers with Northwestern and Equity performers to workshop new musicals. Guests got a taste of how the creative development process works alongside the writers, actors, and leaders of this wildly successful program.

3:30 – 5 p.m.

E. Patrick Johnson presents: A Reading from “Sweet Tea”

The professor of Performance Studies read excerpts from his award-winning book Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, which collects more than 60 real-life stories of black gay men who were born, raised and continue to live in the South. Johnson challenged stereotypes of the South as “backward” or “repressive” and offered a window into the ways black gay men negotiate their identities, build community, maintain friendship networks, and find sexual and life partners–often in spaces and activities that appear to be antigay. Ultimately, Sweet Tea validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.

8 p.m.A Starry Night
9:30 – 11:30 p.m.Post-Show reception

Ongoing:
Lights, Camera, Wildcats! Heather Headley’s dress in Broadway’s Aida; Garry Marshall’s production notes for Pretty Woman. Scripts. Props. Photos. More. The Northwestern University Archives presented a fascinating self-guided exhibit of many of our alumni prominent on stage and screen.

Campus Tours: Northwestern’s Evanston campus is continually growing and changing. Alumni and first-time visitors alike will enjoyed an hour-long walking tour organized by Northwestern Admissions and led by a dynamic current student.

Paint the Eyes Softer: Mummy Portraits from Ancient Egypt The Mary and Leigh Block Museum’s wildly popular exhibit brings to Northwestern a series of mummy portraits produced in Egypt during the Roman period, a complete intact portrait mummy and other archeological finds from the Fayum region. Combining expertise from across the University — including contributions from classics, art history, sound design, materials science, medicine, archeology, art history and molecular biology — this groundbreaking installation explores how interdisciplinary partnerships can deliver new insights into ancient mysteries. Students from the MA in Sound Arts and Industries program have created custom-designed soundscapes that guests experienced as they toured the exhibit.

MFA Theatre Design Display
Theatre faculty specializing in design and directing displayed work showcasing collaborations that challenge conceptions of production of major historical works and that speak to our 21st Century audience in a nuanced and provocative way. The display demonstrated the department’s deep commitment to new works and what speaks to the experience of our entire community.