Faculty of Arts "Language, Communication, and Culture" (LCC) signature area was formed in 2019. It supports interdisciplinary scholarship on the processes by which individuals, groups, and organizations from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds exchange information, and create and share meaning. The LCC is composed of three interrelated thematic areas: interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and organizational communication.
On October 29, 2020, 35 researchers across five Faculties at the University of Alberta participated in the Language, Communication, and Culture (LCC) Lightning Talks Zoom event. Ten researchers from five Faculties—Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, School of Business, and Faculty of Agricultural, Life, and Environmental Science—presented their research related to Language, Communication, and Culture. They were (following the order of their presentations):
Their research involves a variety of topics, such as language documentation corpora, connecting to the Spirit of indigenous languages, language ideologies, words in the marketplace, etc. During the Q-A session, participants raised questions about the presentations which created in-depth discussions on topics of common interest, such as the uses of swear words and pronouns in marketplace and social media, and the use of language and gesture in video-recorded communication. A group of researchers interested in gesture and language in interactions involving decision-making were connected during the Q-A session after the presentations.
Suggestions for future events organized by LCC signature area were also solicited. Two interrelated suggestions were made by a participant. First, LCC could raise its public profile by more actively publicizing its research and its relevance to prominent social issues. In addition, LCC could raise the public awareness of the significance and relevance of the research on language, communication, and culture especially in the current social context. Second, LCC could identify a few larger research themes or research questions as a response to the current social issues. A large group of researchers from different fields across campus who are interested in the themes may collaborate to address those questions. A few suggestions proposed at the meeting were: language discrimination, language marginalization, language and identity of socially underprivileged groups. If you are interested in addressing any of the questions, or if you have any suggestions about other possible research themes, please send your interest and thoughts to email@example.com
On the afternoon of June 23, 2020, LCC organized a virtual event, Conversations on COVID-19: A VIRtual Exchange of Stimulating Studies (VIRESS). The event provided an opportunity to discuss research ideas about the role of language, communication, and culture in the COVID-19 pandemic from interpersonal, intercultural, and organizational perspectives. Twelve participants from 10 departments across 5 faculties at the University of Alberta presented their research projects and new ideas and took part in small group discussions.
Central themes and questions included: social and cultural influences on behaviors, changes in human language use and communicative strategies; impacts of COVID-19 and how they reflect on government policies, animal behaviors in reaction to lessened human activity, and communicative and learning technologies.
In addition, because the research projects that were shared involved various research methodologies and data collection types, connections between researchers with different backgrounds had the opportunity to form, possibly leading to collaboration between people with different expertise.
Moreover, the discussion raised both academic and practical questions. In terms of academic questions, some researchers discussed how to analyze, document, identify, or describe culturally laden behaviors, actions, and language uses from diverse disciplinary perspectives. Practical research questions concerned how researchers could assist parents in dealing with the issue of children’s increased screen-time as a result of home learning; how app developers could help users understand contact tracking apps; and what kind of support researchers could provide for families that encounter sadness and anxiety as a result of the pandemic.
These discussions reflect the urgent actions that behavioral and social scientists have taken and could further take to understand the COVID-19 pandemic from a language, culture and communication perspective. Such a perspective could not only mitigate COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impacts, but also identify the opportunities for positive social and cultural change that the pandemic offers.
On January 24, 2020, the Language, Communication, and Culture (LCC) Signature Area Network held its launching event, a roundtable discussion. The Roundtable focused on networking, sharing research ideas, and communicating possible future events. Twenty-eight researchers from 10 departments attended the event.
During the event, the leadership team members introduced the three themes of LCC: interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and organizational communication. It was followed by a roundtable discussion to explore how the research interests of participants relate to those three themes. Under the theme of interpersonal communication, researchers exchanged their ideas with regards to language choice, ideology and identity displaying along with communication, multimodality and non-verbal communication, and the use of language in everyday conversation. The discussion related to intercultural communication brought up the following key ideas: inter- and cross-cultural similarities and differences, using and learning a second language, acquiring a culture in a new environment, and how a new culture influences newcomers’ identity. With regards to organizational communication, researchers discussed the identity/identities of organizations, organization as a facilitator of culture, and how language is used between different levels of an organization.
In addition to sharing their research interests, participants also suggested several possible future events that LCC could organize, including but not limited to research method workshops, research presentations, and networking events. Based on the suggestions, LCC has decided to organize a networking event for Bilingualism and Multilingualism on April 14 2020 and a Graduate Workshop on research methodologies and tools in late-April.