President's Column: The First Four: Writing a New Chapter in ICA's International Efforts
By Noshir Contractor, ICA President (Northwestern U)
Over the past month, ICA has embarked on historic next steps to internationalize further. I'm proud to share that we have just launched four regional chapters - ICA Indonesia on March 7th, 2023, ICA Nigeria on March 24th, 2023, ICA China on March 28th, 2023, and ICA Kenya on April 5, 2023. I was honored to have a front seat at these inaugural events, crisscrossing the globe to express appreciation and solidarity on behalf of ICA Leadership. The following are some of the highlights from each event.
Our ICA Indonesia Chapter was inaugurated at Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia in Jakarta on March 7th, hosted by the Rector/Chancellor of Atma Jaya Catholic University Jakarta, Indonesia, Dr. Agustinus Prasentyantoko. The leadership of ICA Indonesia has developed a long-standing relationship with ICA, having hosted an ICA Regional Conference in 2019 in Bali. They've also hosted ICA Regional Hubs, concurrent with our annual ICA conference since 2021. Over 350 people participated in the ceremony online, joining over 60 in-person attendees. The leadership of ICA Indonesia comprises representatives from all regions of Indonesia, namely the West, Central, and East. It seeks to draw members from Communication programs in over 300 universities from 38 provinces. Our ICA Indonesia Chapter seeks to (i) contribute to the development of communication scholarship and practice in Indonesia, as well as globalize Indonesia in best practices in the field of communication, (ii) improve skills and share insights and best practices to face today's and tomorrow's challenges, and (iii) increase their credibility and professional reputation as members of a regional chapter of an international professional organization. Toward these goals, ICA Indonesia Chair Prof. Dorien Kartikawangi and her team have planned several events for 2023, from international conferences to lectures and workshops.
Our ICA Nigeria Chapter was inaugurated on March 24th, 2023, at the University of Port Harcourt in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, hosted by Prof. Clifford Ofurum, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University. The attendees at ICA Nigeria Chapter included representatives from 11 universities across Nigeria, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, and the Ministry of Education in Rivers State, Nigeria. The Chairs of ICA Indonesia and ICA Kenya Regional Chapters also joined the event. ICA Nigeria is Chaired by Ekaete George, a doctoral student who demonstrated her leadership acumen by coordinating the ICA 2022 Regional Hub at Port Harcourt alongside the annual ICA 2022 conference. ICA Nigeria seeks to coalesce a large interdisciplinary network of scholars across Nigeria with interest in communication. The Chapter seeks to serve as an exclusive hub for students and early career researchers to access mentorship, community, and resources for academic achievement, professional development, and career growth. Following the first Quarterly Seminar Series (QSS) held at the University of Port Harcourt as part of the inauguration, the next QSS will be held in June 2023 in Lagos, Nigeria.
Our ICA China Chapter was inaugurated on March 28th in Beijing at an event attended by the Deans and Directors of Communication programs at seven major universities in China, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, University of Science and Technology of China, Renmin University, Zhejiang University, Fudan University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The ceremony also included remarks by the President of the Asian-Pacific Communication Alliance (APCA), Professor Changfeng Chen from Tsinghua University. ICA President-Elect Professor Eun-Ju Lee and the Chairs of ICA Indonesia, ICA Kenya, and ICA Nigeria Chapters joined the ceremony online. The organizing team of ICA China, chaired by Prof. Mengxiao Zhu, has well-established and enduring relationships with ICA, having hosted ICA Regional Hubs in multiple locations within China over the past three years. In addition, many of the organizers have been active members of ICA, including serving in leadership roles over the past several decades. ICA China has identified three goals: (i) continue to host local conferences and workshops as part of the ICA Regional Hub, (ii) host distinguished speaker series inviting communication scholars, including those from ICA, to share their work, and (iii) to introduce the latest progress in communication studies to graduate students and young scholars in China.
Most recently, our ICA Kenya Chapter was inaugurated on April 5th, 2023, at Daystar University, Nairobi, at an event hosted by Daystar University Vice Chancellor Prof. Laban Ayiro. The event was preceded by a traffic-halting marching band procession down the busy streets of Nairobi with a street-wide banner heralding the inauguration of ICA Kenya. The inauguration ceremony was attended by over 70 individuals in person and another 150 online, including former ICA President Claes DeVreese and ICA Chairs from Indonesia, China, and Nigeria. The Chair of ICA Kenya, Sister Professor Agnes Lucy Lando, has long engaged with ICA, organizing, among other events, the 2016 ICA Regional Conference in Nairobi and three Regional Hubs in Nairobi alongside the ICA Annual Conferences since 2021. Her leadership team includes members from Aga Khan University, Daystar University, Koitaleel Samoei University College, Laikipia University, Multimedia University of Kenya, Tangaza University College, The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, and Africa Community Leadership and Development. ICA Kenya has already enrolled over 70 members who received their official ICA Kenya membership cards at the inaugural event. ICA Kenya seeks to provide a vital platform for communication scholars in Kenya and beyond to connect, collaborate, and share knowledge and expertise to advance this goal of improving the skillset of researchers in Africa and unleashing the latent academic potential in Africa.
Each event was the culmination of an enormous amount of effort by the local Chapter organizers. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the members of ICA's Regional Endeavors, Affiliate Conferences & Hubs (REACH) Committee, chaired by former ICA President Terry Flew, which evaluated the petitions submitted by each of these Chapters, provided them feedback, and made recommendations to the ICA Executive Committee on their selection. In addition, ICA Executive Director Laura Sawyer and her staff at ICA Headquarters guided protocols and branding, and ICA staffer Jennifer Le designed the ICA Chapter logos.
On a more personal note, it was especially gratifying to witness the enthusiasm and commitment at each inauguration event - and even more remarkably, the level of solidarity and camaraderie among these first four ICA Regional Chapters. To learn more about their experiences, challenges, and plans, please join us at a hybrid session during the #ICA23 annual conference, titled Global Regional Chapter Pilot Project: Tales From the Field on Sunday, May 29th, at 9 am Eastern in Grand Ballroom East (Sheraton) and online. Each of the ICA Regional Chapters is financially self-sustaining and, in most cases, charges their members very modest membership dues tiered by member status (undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, etc.). We can only aspire that, in the not-too-distant future, one of those members who first entered the ICA COMMunity via an ICA Regional Chapter will be writing a future ICA Presidential Newsletter Entry.