12th Annual Communication and Social Action Conference to 'reframe blame' next week

The Communication and Dramatic Arts Department wants to change the common practice of deflecting blame to others in politics, business and even families.

The department will host the 12th annual Communication and Social Action Conference starting March 24 in an effort to shine light on the issues of blame and forgiveness.

This year’s conference, titled “Reframing Blaming: Transforming our Scapegoat Culture,” will explain issues and solutions to blame in many different settings. The theme of this year’s conference was created when organizers noticed recent events such as the BP oil spill all had a significant amount of blame being placed upon others.

Sandusky graduate assistant Beth Binder is helping organize the event and believes this year’s topic should be very interesting.

“The idea is to prevent using a scapegoat and placing blame in general,” Binder said.

All activities will be held in Moore Hall’s Townsend Kiva.

Communications and dramatic arts professor Mary Ann Renz helped bring the first Communication and Social Action Conference to CMU and is the organizer of this year’s event.

“The goal of the program is to help prepare students for jobs and to have effective relationships with others by teaching a good communicator role in democracy,” Renz said.

Sara Cobb was selected as this year’s keynote speaker for the conference. Cobb, who teaches at George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, uses a narrative approach to show solutions for conflicts. Cobb's speech will begin the conference at 7 p.m. March 23.

Cobb has researched at multiple universities, including Harvard Law School, and has consulted for organizations such as the office of the United Nations high commissioner on refugees and Exxon Mobil.

The conference will end with a 3:30 p.m. March 24 screening of "Fambul Tok." The film premiered Monday at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

The documentary, filmed in Sierra Leone, tells the stories of individuals who endure hardships but find a way to forgive those responsible around them.