You are now in the main content area

Future Communications Conference | Open House

Dive into the future of communication and culture at 'Future Communications! A ComCult Conference,' where students showcase groundbreaking research and creative projects in thematic panels.

The theme “Future Communications” can be interpreted broadly to include investigations of all aspects of culture, media, politics, policy, technology, and creative practice.

Paper presentations, poster presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and creative artwork, both ongoing and completed research is welcome. The conference is intended especially to support the development of student researchers in early stages.

Next Conference: December 2024

Themes & Keynote Speakers

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, Future Communications! was back, in-person, with a dynamic showcase of student research and creative projects.

The December 2023 conference explored diverse themes within the realms of nationhood, policy, politics, theory, and digitality. In the session on "Nationhood, Policy, and Politics," topics ranged from an examination of resistance to revising Canada's 1991 Broadcasting Act and regulating online streaming to a critical analysis of the intersections of homonationalism and #BlackTransLivesMatter. The "Theoretical Explorations" session delved into areas such as the science of projectification, capitalism's impact on existentialism, feminist perspectives on photography, and the reclamation of viewing agency. The final session on "Data and Digitality" covered exploration of Netflix's interactive ambitions, investigation into the neoliberal imagination regarding data, and examination of spatializing algorithmically mediated cyberspaces. The conference thus provided a comprehensive exploration of contemporary issues at the intersection of communication, technology, and society.

Mark Hayward (York University) - “Platform Multiculturalism: Histories and Futures of Media Diversity in Canada”

What kinds of futures might we imagine for media supporting and serving cultural and linguistic diversity in Canada? How might the history of the role media has played in Canadian multiculturalism contribute to discussions about media, identity and culture? Focusing on how traditional media (radio and television in particular) are adapting to the dynamics of contemporary digital media economies, Dr. Hayward explores how the contested and conflicted history of media diversity in Canada might contribute to the critique and transformation of ideas of multiculturalism in light of the emergence of platform media.

Mark Hayward is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at York University and the author of the forthcoming Identity & Industry: Making Media Multicultural in Canada (MQUP).

 (PDF file) Future Communications 2019 Conference Schedule


Mark Hayward
Dr. Mark Hayward

Cheryl Thompson (Toronto Metropolitan University) -"Reading Black Canadian Newspapers in the 1970s and 1980s: How Black Beauty Culture Entered Department Stores and Drugstores"

In 2018, Dr. Cheryl Thompson joined the School of Creative Industries as Assistant Professor. She earned her PhD in Communication Studies from McGill University under the co-supervision of Dr. Will Straw and Dr. Charmaine Nelson. Her first book, Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture will be published with Wilfrid Laurier Press in April 2019. Prior to her position at TMU, Cheryl was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018) at the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and in the Department of English and Drama. In 2017, Cheryl gave a TEDx Talk at the University of Toronto Scarborough, titled “Why Positive Thinking is Not Enough.” In addition to her academic writing, Cheryl is a frequent contributor to, and has published articles in the Canadian Theatre Review,, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, GUTS Magazine, and

 (PDF file) Future Communications 2018 Program


Dr. Cheryl Thompson
Dr. Cheryl Thompson

Colleen Derkatch (Toronto Metropolitan University) teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetoric and writing studies, and supervises graduate students in rhetoric, health humanities, and science and technology studies. Her research aims to understand and explain how language motivates and shapes human activity—how language produces, demarcates, and communicates systems of knowledge, expertise, and authority; how it organizes experience; and how it orients us toward certain beliefs and behaviours and away from others.

Dr. Colleen Derkatch
Dr. Colleen Derkatch

Nicole Cohen (University of Toronto), author of Worker’s Rights: Freelance Journalism in a Digital Age (2016, McGill-Queen’s University Press)

Dr. Cohen is an assistant professor at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and holds a graduate appointment in the Faculty of Information. She is the author of Writers’ Rights: Freelance Journalism in a Digital Age (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), which won the Gertrude J. Robinson Book Prize from the Canadian Communication Association in 2017.Nicole researches in the area of political economy of communication, particularly labour and organizing in the media and cultural industries, media work and journalism. Her research has been published in South Atlantic Quarterly, The Communication Review, Canadian Journal of Communication Studies, Democratic Communique, and several edited books in communication studies. Nicole collaborates on the international SSHRC-funded project, Cultural Workers Organize.

Dr. Nicole Cohen (University of Toronto)
Dr. Nicole Cohen (University of Toronto)

Penelope Ironstone (Wilfrid Laurier University), Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies and MA in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory. President of the Canadian Communication Association and the book review editor for the Canadian Journal of Communication.

Tom Sherman is an American-Canadian artist working in video, audio, radio, performance, sculpture and text/image. He is also a writer of nonfiction and fiction. He is a recipient of Canada's Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Art.

Note to presenters

Each presenter will have 15 minutes for their presentation. Once everyone has presented, there will be 20 minutes question and answer session.