Arthur N. Rupe Biannual Conference

Thursday, May 6 at 11:00am to 6:15pm

The theme of the 2021 Rupe Biannual Conference is Communicating about COVID-19. The COVID pandemic has become a devastating global phenomenon. The virus and its associated effects have killed millions of people and damaged the health and capabilities of countless more survivors for both the short and long term. Every aspect of life has been upended, from agriculture to zoos, science to religion, individuals to international, or eating to socializing. Nearly all professions and academic disciplines have been devoting extraordinary efforts to managing, studying, preparing for, responding to, and publishing or posting about this threat.

Thus the pandemic has heightened our need to understand (among many other things) how all aspects of life are interconnected. COVID-19 is a contagious disease – spread through interactions, direct or indirect, known or unknown. So one of the many lenses we may apply to understand the nature, meaning, and consequences of this crisis is through communication. Yet even this particular lens is more of a prism, revealing a broad spectrum of communicative processes associated with the disease and its implications. This brief conference can only cover a few of those processes.

We are very fortunate to have an outstanding group of communication researchers and practitioners participate in the conference. The first session provides strategic public health and institutional perspectives. The next four sessions move through central areas of communication research and practice. The second considers several interpersonal implications, including mediated, romantic, and even rejected relationships. The third session considers message aspects of communicating about COVID-19, such as through masks, cultural values, and blame.  The fourth focuses on media, from how individuals and nonprofit organizations use media to respond to the crisis, to how the language of online news coverage varies by regional factors. The fifth and final session looks at how media professionals report on the topic, what happens to the meaning of work when professions are suddenly categorized by health policies as essential or not, and how organizations communicate internally with their employees.

This free public event has 5 sessions, from 11am-6:15pm on Thursday May 6. Each session will offer about 20 minutes for each of three presenters, and about 10 minutes for discussion and Q&A. Each session will be recorded, and available on this website. In these extremely unfortunate and challenging times, we hope that the Rupe Conference on Communicating about COVID-19 provides a bit of understanding and insight.

Go to Shoreline at to register for the Conference and receive your Zoom Webinar link. If you are a UCSB student, faculty, or staff member, log in using your UCSB Net ID.  Otherwise, use as a Guest.

Program (click here to download a .pdf)



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