A New Kind of Academic Conference

Gathered in the basement of the UF College of Journalism and Communications, a group of 30 public interest communicators came together in October 2013 with a mission.

The goal: Build a community of people using communications to drive change.

The solution: frank.

frank is about creating the things we wish existed.

We thought it would awesome to have an annual gathering where people of purpose could convene to connect and learn from each other, so we established the frank gathering.

We said it would be a game changer to have accessible summaries of peer-reviewed research on strategic communications, so we launched frankology.

We wanted to grow an academic discipline around public interest communications, so we designed classes.  

We decided that we wanted to turn Gainesville into the destination for changemakers and movement builders, so we built Changeville, a new storytelling festival that will take place during the frank2016 gathering. At Changeville, we’ll celebrate artists who use their music, art, film and comedy to drive change.

Creating the things we wish existed is our M.O.

Well this year, we thought “wouldn’t it be amazing to bring together the leading scholars from multiple disciplines to collaborate on research projects to drive change?”

So, we created frank (Scholar, 2016).

frank (Scholar, 2016) is a one-day academic conference that brings together top researchers from various academic disciplines to collaboratively cultivate research that ignites lasting behavioral, institutional and social change.

Scholars determined to use their research to create a better world will come to the University of Florida for the first-ever academic conference for public interest communications. frank (Scholar, 2016) represents a step toward establishing the robust practice area of public interest communications as a unique academic discipline and building the connection between research and practice.

We knew we couldn’t build this conference alone, so we enlisted a few of our favorite scholars to serve as the first chairs.

These three chairs will lead conversations among our 25 invited scholars in three sessions designed to facilitate collaboration.

Our sessions themes:

1) How can we best communicate for the public good?

2) How to create and maintain social movements in the public interest?

3) How can we overcome societal/structural constraints to achieve public interest goals?

The frank (Scholars, 2016):

benford, Robert Benford, professor, University of South Florida, frank, frank2016, frank scholar, scholar, academic conference, sociology

Robert Benford, Ph.D
Department of Sociology
University of South Florida

Dr. Benford is a leading social movement and framing scholar. He has won multiple awards and grants throughout his 30-year career. His works focus on framing processes, narratives, collective identity and other social constructionist issues associated with collective action.

His works, which has been cited more than 20 thousand times, include Frame alignment processes, micromobilization, and movement participation, Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment and Ideology, frame resonance, and participant mobilization.

In his work, he writes on the strategic framing processes of social movements, particularly in the Nuclear Disarmament Movement, the College Sports Reform Movement and the Peace and Justice Movement.

Check out his C.V.


professor, frank, frank2016, frank scholar, scholar, academic conference, Kristin Demetrious, Deakin University, Public Relations

Kristin Demetrious, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Public Relations
School of Communication and Creative Arts
Deakin University, Australia

Dr. Demetrious is an award winning public relations scholar from Australia. She is a 2014 and 2013 National Communication Association Book Award winner for her books ‘Public Relations, Activism and Social Change: Speaking Up’ and ‘Gender and Public Relations: Critical Perspectives on Vice, Image and Identity.’

Demetrious is also an experienced media and communication practitioner who has operated her own consultancy, and at various times, worked in house as a publicist, video producer and public relations administrator.

In her work she answers the questions “Why are some voices louder in public debates than others? And why can’t all voices be equally heard?” Kristen also writes on the future of P.R. in fostering social change.

She studies grassroots activism, communication ethics, community engagement and citizenship.

Check out her work.


professor, frank, frank2016, frank scholar, scholar, academic conference, Derina Holtzhausen, Lamar University, TexasDerina Holtzhausen, Ph.D.
College of Fine Arts and Communications
Lamar University,  Texas

Dr. Holtzhausen is a communications scholar originally from South Africa who writes on the intersections of postmodern theory and public relations. She is a strong proponent of the use of communication, media and the arts to promote social justice and discussions on diversity and equality.

She has won numerous awards, grants and scholarships for her research, including a 2012 National Communication Association award for her book Public Relations as Activism: Postmodern Approaches to Theory and Practice. She is the founding editor for the International Journal of Strategic Communication, and consulting editor for the International Journal of Strategic Communication.

Prior to her academic career, she served as head of corporate communication for the South African Tourism Board and an executive consultant for ABSA Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Check out her C.V.


frank (Scholar, 2016) will take place February 27.

Are you an interested scholar? Request an invite or send us a note.

Posted: January 28, 2016
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