The WFI supports projects throughout the year that bring together scholars, students and thought leaders in the true spirit of connection and collaboration. Our annual programming includes: symposia and sponsored campus events, Transit Talks and NCA Conference Partnership.


Every year, the Waterhouse Family Institute sponsors symposia, lectures, workshops, conferences and events. Although these events differ in specific theme, they all aim to create and strengthen a global network of Communication scholars and professionals, and to generate new conversations about communication, social change, and social justice.

2016 – 2017: “The Just Transition Conference: Communicating Power in an Age of Climactic Change” was a series of events on climate justice, the intersection of environmentalism and racism, and just transition advocacy.

2015 – 2016: “Cross-Cultural Communication and Ethics: US and Chinese Perspectives on Theory and Practice” was an interdisciplinary, international conversation regarding the complexity of ethics in intercultural engagement between the US and China, featuring scholars and professionals from both contries and keynote lecture, "Developing Intercultural Communication Competence: Ethical Issues to Ponder,” by Stella Ting-Toomey, PhD.

2014 – 2015: “Communication, Postcoloniality, and Social Justice: Decolonizing Imaginations” brought together scholars from across the globe to chart some possible pathways for the future of Communication and Media Studies. This was the first event of its kind in the US, focusing on communication through the lens of postcoloniality.

2013 – 2014: “Diversity Through Dialogue: Living Diversity, Communicating Justice,” was designed for faculty and staff interested in issues of diversity and inclusion, Diversity Directors/Officers, School Directors, Diversity Programmers at Independent and Religious Schools and Colleges and featured a keynote from renowned Communication scholar Brenda J. Allen, PhD.

2012 – 2013: “Truth, Fact, & Communication in Complex Information Environments” featured a keynote address, "Deception and Distraction in the 2012 Presidential Election," by renowned political communication scholar, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and brought together leading Communication scholars and professionals from across the country to discuss the challenges of grappling with communication, advocacy and social justice issues within the context of higher education institutions.

2011 – 2012: “The Challenge of Communicating Truth,” inspired by the work of the late pioneering communication theorist Barnett Pearce, brought together scholars and practitioners from across the country to engage in conversation about the nature and complexity of truth.

2010 – 2011: The WFI Inaugural Symposium connected communication students, scholars, and professionals from around the country.



Dr. Sarah Banet-Weiser headshot
Dean Sarah Banet-Weiser, Ph.D. will be the Transit Talks speaker on April 11, 2024

The WFI Transit Talks is our marquis collaborative lecture series with Temple University, bringing visiting scholars and game changers to campus each year. These lectures engage new conversations about the importance of communication, social change and social justice.

Join us for Transit Talks at Villanova University on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in the Communication Department Studio, Garey 29A, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. with Sarah Banet-Weiser, Ph.D., Walter H. Annenberg Dean, Lauren Berlant Professor, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania and Research Professor, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. She will give the lecture: "Believability: Sexual Violence, Media and the Digitization of Doubt." The presentation at Villanova University is ACS approved and free and open to the public.

A master class will be given by Dean Banet-Weiser at Temple University on Friday, April 12.

Transit Talks are co-sponsored by Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication.


Spring 2023: Toussaint Nothias, PhD, Stanford University, "Digital Colonialism and The Global Movement for Tech Accountability"

Spring 2022: Lisa A. Flores, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder, "The Im/mobilities of Rhetorical Race Making" 

2021 – 2022: Herman Wasserman, PhD, University of Cape Town, "Disinformation in the Global South: A research agenda"

2020 – 2021: Cancelled

2019 – 2020: Karma R. Chavez, PhD, University of Texas at Austin, "Alienizing Nation: HIV/AIDS and the Rhetoric of Quarantine, Ban, and Resistance"

2018 – 2019: Ramesh Srinivasan, PhD, UCLA, "Beyond the Valley: The Challenges and Promises of a People-Centered Internet”




Since 2016, the Waterhouse Family Institute has sponsored a social justice-themed event at the National Communication Association annual conference, one that engages concerns local to NCA’s diverse conference sites. This relationship has resulted in immensely successful sessions.

Freedom, the 109th NCA Annual Convention


"Engaging Communities: The Power of Communication in Catalyzing Social Change”

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023 | 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM EST

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, Cherry Blossom Ballroom

Recording of the 2022 Session is now available from NCA.

Access the archive of WFI-sponsored events at the National Communication Association Conference.

2021: Honoring Past and Present: Communication, Culture, and Change in Native Seattle, Seattle, WA

2020: Mental Health at the Crossroads, Virtual event (Indianapolis, IN)

2019: Race Relations in Charm City: Communicating Social Justice, Baltimore, MD

2018: Environmental Justice in the American Southwest, Salt Lake City, UT

2017: Lyrical Justice: Engaging the Verbs of Social Justice, Dallas, TX

2016: The Social Justice Exchange, Philadelphia, PA



Beginning in 2023, the Waterhouse Family Institute is proudly collaborating with colleagues across the country to support innovative programming on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) in the field of Communication. Although these programs differ in their aim and scope, they are united by their goal to undo historical inequities in the academy, and to support new generations of communication scholars dedicated to inclusivity and to the eradication of oppression and injustice.

The WFI is pleased to establish a grant to annually support Sisters With a Purpose (SWAP). It is a virtual writing workshop and mentorship program founded by Drs. Tina M. Harris, Meghan Sanders, and Sherella Cupid of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. The program is highly selective and serves historically underrepresented women scholars worldwide within the field of Communication, giving them voice and a powerful space to collaborate. The 2023 SWAP Virtual Writing Retreat took place during the week of June 19-23, and those involved will be sharing their experience in November at the NCA Annual Conference!

The HBCU CPPP (Communication PhD Pipeline Program) launched last year in August and was designed to facilitate a pathway to diversify the communication professoriate through a focus on mentoring students from HBCU’s across the country into the academy. This exciting program works with undergraduate college juniors through second year master’s students to encourage them to pursue a PhD in communication. The program is funded by NCA, Waterhouse Family Institute (WFI), and the University of Cincinnati (UC). It began as a two-year pilot and is now scheduled to become a four-year pilot, thanks to additional funding from WFI. This year-long program includes monthly mentoring sessions via Zoom, in addition to two in-person visits, one at the NCA convention (in November), and another one at the University of Cincinnati (in April). We anticipate the program continuing, and even expanding, in the years to come!

This annual WFI grant supports the creation of and funding for the RSA IDEA Mentoring Retreat Program. It provides mentorship to rhetorical students and scholars from traditionally underrepresented and marginalized communities in the U.S. The program was developed by Dr. Theon Hill of Wheaton College, along with the other members of RSA’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Committee, and RSA leadership. This retreat-style mentoring initiative is intended to create a structure of support where it has not yet existed, and further decolonize rhetorical studies, diversify it, and provide accessibility to the next generation of professors. The annual three-day retreat for six to eight scholars at different stages of their careers and from varied institutions will be joined by two moderators for mentorship and facilitation of the program. Look for the official launch of this program in summer 2024!

The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society
Villanova University, Garey Hall
800 E. Lancaster Ave, Villanova, PA 19085-1699, USA

Thomas Ksiazek, PhD, director

Wendy Eisenberg, administrative and program specialist