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Call for Competitive Papers and Complete Panel Proposals

The Media Ecology Association at the 105th Annual Convention of the National Communication Association

Baltimore, Maryland
November 14–17, 2019
“Communication for Survival”

Submission Deadline: March 27, 2019 (11:59 PM Pacific)
MEA @ NCA Program Planner: Michael Plugh,

The 2019 NCA convention theme, “Communication for Survival,” touches on an important ethical mission in the media ecology tradition. Marshall McLuhan’s fondness for Poe’s “Descent into the Maelstrom,” as a metaphor for our contemporary condition, is rooted in the idea that “By studying the patterns of the effects of this huge vortex of energy in which we are involved, it may be possible to program a strategy of evasion and survival.” Likewise, Neil Postman drew from this idea in arguing, “Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.”

Media ecology is a metadiscipline that studies the ways in which human action shapes and is shaped by our media environments. The term “media” is broadly construed in the field and includes but is not limited to communication, technology, technique, orality and literacy, the arts, economics, education, ethics, etc. Thus, media ecology explores the conditions of human experience made possible by the complex patterns of interaction within and among our symbolic-material environments. The rapid and complex changes to our symbolic-material environments pose significant challenges to our ability to make sense of our world, and to not only survive, but also thrive.

This call invites you to explore these concerns, emphasizing the historical and intellectual roots of our field, and their relevance to the theme of Communication for Survival. As such, papers and panels that deal with topics related to the theme are encouraged (though not required). Likewise, proposals that link traditionally distinct thinkers or disciplines to media ecology, extend established ideas or concepts, or otherwise advance existing approaches to the field, are also welcomed.

Submission Method and Deadline

Online submission will be accepted through the NCA Convention Central website beginning January 14, 2019. The link to the website is:

The absolute deadline for submissions is March 27, 2019 at 11:59 PM Pacific.

Types of Submissions

Interested colleagues are encouraged to submit individual papers, paper sessions, and/or panel discussion proposals that address the convention theme as it relates to the study of media ecology. (Strict adherence to the NCA convention theme is, again, not a requirement for submission). The MEA program will accept the following three types of submissions: individual papers, paper sessions (common theme paper presentations); and panel discussions (common topic roundtable discussion).

  • Individual Papers: All paper submissions should include an uploaded file between 20 and 25 pages (double-spaced) in length, including references and tables, and have (a) a title; (b) a 250–500-word description; and (c) no personal identification of the author in the abstract or throughout the paper upload. Please remove all personal identification before uploading the document online. Individual papers will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: (a) a firm grounding in the established literature; (b) sound arguments with well-substantiated ideas; (c) clear expression of ideas; (d) a clear media-ecological orientation; and (e) a contribution to the general understanding of media ecology. If your submission is a student paper, please be sure to indicate this. Also, submitters should indicate their willingness to present as part of a Scholar-to-Scholar (S2S) program session.

  • Paper Sessions comprise a group of authors with papers to present centered upon a common theme. Paper Session proposals must include (a) a session title and description describing the session’s overall focus; (b) indicate the session chair and respondent; (c) the title of each paper on the session and author information; (d) an abstract of no more than 75 words for each paper; and (e) a rationale of no more than 250 words for the session.

  • Panel Discussions comprise a group of panelists who discuss a specific topic. Submitters may use the exact same text for both the abstract and rationale if they do not wish to create a separate rationale (reviewers will use the rationale when evaluating this type of panel). Complete panel discussion proposals in this format will therefore include (a) a panel title describing the panel’s overall focus; (b) a list of all presenters, with their affiliations; (c) an abstract of no more than 250 words; and (d) a rationale of no more than 250 words.

All panel discussion or paper session proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: (a) solid organization and preparation, with clear indication of the focus and rationale of the panel; (b) clear, strong integration/coherence among the topics of the individual papers or presentations; (c) interest to MEA members; (d) a clear media-ecological orientation; and (e) a contribution to the general understanding of media ecology. All submitters are also asked to consider creative collaborations and co-sponsorship with other units. Co-sponsorhip opportunities should be noted in the “special requests” tab.

The MEA has seven session slots available for this convention. As a standard practice, paper sessions consisting of competitively refereed and accepted complete papers will receive priority ranking and scheduling privilege. Also, since we have limited panel allocations and hope to engage more of our colleagues in the MEA’s program, we urge all prospective contributors to send in only one submission—one complete paper or participation on only one proposed panel. Please also note that NO identical submissions may be made to more than one unit.

NCA Policy: Audio/Visual Equipment

NCA policy entails providing reasonable A/V support of presentations at its annual convention. However, equipment requests must be kept to a minimum because of their high cost. Submitters must therefore adhere to the following guidelines:

  • A/V equipment requests MUST be made at the same time as the paper or panel’s submission, and will be screened by the program planner.
  • NCA will normally approve requests for the following equipment: laptop audio, Internet connection and LCD projectors.
  • NCA will NOT normally approve requests for equipment such as laptops, transparency projectors, VCR or DVD players, camcorders, satellite links, or teleconference/webinar equipment.

Individuals may, of course, elect to rent equipment for the convention at their own expense.

All submitters are encouraged to review the Professional Standards for Convention Participants prior to submission. Helpful resources (including the Professional Standards for Convention Participants), such as live and recorded step-by-step instructions on how to submit, are available in the NCA Convention Library at

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