Though the Stevenson University community is only a few weeks into the spring 2021 semester, the Department of Communication Programs is already looking forward to welcoming the annual Maryland Communication Association Conference (MCA) to campus this upcoming October.
The MCA, a regional branch of the National Communication Association, consists of a group of communication professionals, educators and students. MCA’s goal is to promote the study of communication, from widening job opportunities, to bettering educational practices, to continuing research within the field. As stated by the MCA website, the organization has taken a huge role in “the shaping and adoption of statewide competency standards for Communication courses in General Education Programs and our current participation to facilitate articulation agreements in Communication in the State of Maryland” by working within the Maryland Education System.
Every year, MCA holds a conference which is a resource for students and staff alike to deepen their knowledge of the communication field and it serves as a great networking event. During these conferences, attendees are usually enriched by keynote speakers, workshops, advice, and more.
For those looking to network within the communication field and learn new skills, the MCA conference is an ideal event to do so. Every year the conference is filled with local communication educators and professionals who are there to speak to, interact with, and teach students. A key factor in past and future conferences are the breakout rooms/presentations where students are given one-on-one time in small groups with a communications professional to learn and ask questions, as well as network. Last year’s conference focused on teaching students how to improve their presentation and teaching skills, including providing special speakers and workshops for additional learning.
This year’s conference theme has still not been announced but will likely be just as useful. First Vice President of the MCA and chair of the Department of Communication Programs at Stevenson, Dr. Lee Krahenbuhl, stressed that though this is a communication-centered event, it is still open to “all Stevenson students and all students everywhere.” Skills taught at the conference are not exclusive to the communication field—anyone interested may attend.
As the host for this year’s MCA conference this year, the event will take place on Stevenson’s Owings Mills North campus in the Manning Academic Center. “Stevenson has an ideal space for a small, in-person convention in the Solve Center,” Krahenbuhl said, further elaborating on the nature of the “smart classrooms” that have moveable partitions and are ideal for breakout group sessions.
Furthermore, hosting the conference offers Stevenson exposure to other colleges, universities and professionals. “It gives a lot of exposure to both the school and to our [communication] department, and to the work that both or faculty and our students are doing,” Krahenbuhl said.
Currently, the 2021 conference is hoping to be an in-person event, but given the current pandemic, the MCA is prepared to make the conference a virtual event, similar to the 2020 conference. “We are so used to doing it by now [being virtual], that the MCA has already had a couple of successful mini conferences using virtual platforms,” stated Krahenbuhl.
The versatility of the conference every year makes it a valuable event students and staff should take advantage of. Every conference brings interesting new workshops and topics of discussion that can be enriching to all students (previous topics include an analysis of Disney’s “Black Panther” and talking about intersectionality within communication). For more information on the MCA and the 2021 conference, visit the Maryland Communication Association website: https://www.marylandcommassociation.com/.