Conversations: New frameworks for public discourse

Conversations: New frameworks for public discourse

Fri, Mar 31, 2017 9:30 am-5:00 pm Raytheon Amphitheater
Fri, Mar 31, 2017
9:30 am-5:00 pm Raytheon Amphitheater

Conversations: New frameworks for public discourse
Exploring the role of media innovation, emerging modes of communication and digital storytelling in an era of fragmented communities

Join us for a conference featuring a broad range of award-winning journalists, innovative scholars and practitioners. The day will focus on the role of media in times of fragmentation and the creation of new tools & frameworks to promote civil discourse.

Information is being consumed by the public in increasingly diverse ways, and as the definition of news continues to evolve, communication itself is being reshaped by developing cultural trends and emerging technology. Within this ever-changing environment, the media has a unique capacity to drive fact-based storytelling by leveraging the art and the science of communication.

This conference will explore the tools, contexts and constituencies that the media can use to promote civil discussion about the pressing issues facing our fragmented society. We will explore methods of effectively bridging technology, data analytics, information visualization and public engagement to present the news to multifaceted audiences and investigate the obstacles to communicating across the divide.

Organized by Matt Carroll, Professor of the Practice, Northeastern School of Journalism. Previously Carroll ran the Knight Foundation-funded Future of News initiative at the MIT Media Lab, where he organized conferences on thorny issues confronting journalism and worked with students to help create tools for newsrooms.

This event has reached capacity. As seating is limited, they are on a first come first serve basis. 

Conversations: new frameworks for public discourse is co-presented by Northeastern’s School of Journalism, Center for the Arts and Social Impact Lab


Raytheon Amphitheater

120 Forsyth Street
Boston, MA 02116

Aleszu Bajak

Faculty member, New Media & Innovation, School of Journalism, Northeastern University

Northeastern School of Journalism faculty, 2013-14 Knight Science Journalism Fellow and former producer for the NPR talk show Science Friday

Northeastern School of Journalism  faculty, Aleszu Bajak is a journalist covering science, energy, the environment and health across the Americas. He’s the founder and editor of, a resource for science news out of Latin America and was a 2013-14 Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT. He is now an instructor in journalism at Northeastern University’s Media Innovation program where he also edits, a under-the-hood guide to digital storytelling.

Before freelance reporting from Latin America, he worked as a producer for the NPR talk show Science Friday. He’s no stranger to the lab bench, having embarked on scientific research in the Chesapeake Bay, Columbia University and at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

He writes for Nature, Science, New Scientist, and Guernica, among other outlets.

Matt Carroll

Professor of the Practice, School of Journalism Northeastern University

Matt Carroll is a professor of the practice in the Journalism Department at Northeastern University. Previously he ran the Knight Foundation-funded Future of News initiative at the MIT Media Lab, where he ran conferences on thorny issues confronting journalism and worked with students to help create tools for newsrooms. Before that, he worked for 26 years at the Boston Globe, specializing in data storytelling. He was a member of the Spotlight team, the newsroom’s investigative unit, when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 for its coverage of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal. That story was turned into the movie “Spotlight,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture last year.

Ellen Cushman

Professor of Civic Sustainability and professor of English, College of Social Sciences & Humanities Northeastern University

Ellen Cushman, a Cherokee Nation citizen, is the Dean’s Professor of Civic Sustainability and professor of English. In the College of Social Sciences and Humanities she is also the associate dean of academic affairs, diversity and inclusion. Her research explores institutional and community-based literacy practices using activist qualitative methods. Her most recent book, The Cherokee Syllabary: Writing the People’s Perseverance (Oklahoma UP, 2011), is based on ethnohistorical research with her tribe and has become the basis of a digital humanities collaborative project. Cushman is the co-editor of the leading journal Research in the Teaching of English.

Sam Ford

Media executive, consultant, & research affiliate, Comparative Media Studies MIT

Sam Ford is a media executive and consultant, as well as a research affiliate with MIT’s Program in Comparative Media Studies/Writing. He is also lead producer of the MIT Open Documentary Lab’s Future of Work initiative in Kentucky and an instructor in Western Kentucky University’s Popular Culture Studies Program. In 2015-2016, Sam was a VP at Univision/Fusion Media Group, where he founded and ran their Center for Innovation & Engagement. He is co-author of the 2013 book Spreadable Media and writes and speaks regularly on the future of journalism, the media industries, serialized storytelling, producer/audience relations, and civic engagement. Follow him on Twitter @Sam_Ford, and find more information on his work at

Brooke Foucault Welles

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies Northeastern University

Brooke Foucault Welles is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and core faculty of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. Dr. Foucault Welles studies how people leverage online social networks to achieve personal, group, and social goals. Her work combines large-scale quantitative network analysis with close readings of social media text to understand how the structure and dynamics of social networks amplify and constrain human communication.

Sydette Harry

Multi Platform Writer and Social Media Presence, Community Lead at the Coral Project

Sydette Harry is the Community Lead for the Coral Project and writer from NYC. Her next project is a decidedly low/high tech response to media, age and race, also grad school. She has been published in dissent, Salon and the blogs as @blackamazon.

Andrew Heyward

Former President of CBS News & Visiting Researcher MIT Media Lab

Andrew Heyward is a nationally known news executive, award-winning producer, and expert on the changing media landscape.

Currently, Andrew is a visiting researcher at the MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines, which focuses on using digital technology to empower human networks to effect positive change. He is part of the team behind the Electome, a project that used artificial intelligence and semantic data analysis of social media to track the role of issues in the presidential campaign.

Andrew was President, CBS News, from January 1996-November 2005. Before that, he was executive producer of The CBS Evening News. Andrew was also responsible for developing and launching 48 Hours, the primetime CBS News hour that premiered in January 1988. He began his career working in local news at WNEW-TV and WCBS-TV in New York.

Andrew has won 12 national Emmy Awards.

Jeff Howe

Assistant Professor, School of Journalism Northeastern University

Jeff Howe is an assistant professor at Northeastern University. A longtime contributing editor at Wired magazine, he coined the term crowdsourcing in a 2006 article for that magazine. In 2008 he published a book with Random House that looked more deeply at the phenomenon of massive online collaboration. Called Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business, it has been translated into ten languages. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University during the 2009-2010 academic year, and is currently a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab, where he is working on a book with Joi Ito, the director of the Media Lab. He has written for the Washington PostNewyorker.comThe New York TimesTime, Newsweek, and many other publications. He currently lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children. He is co-author of Whiplash, How to Survive Our Faster Future.

Dean Elizabeth Hudson

Professor and Dean, College of Arts, Media, and Design Northeastern University

Elizabeth joined Northeastern University as Dean of the College of Arts, Media, and Design and Professor of Music in July 2015. A leader and an accomplished scholar, Elizabeth came to Northeastern from the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, where she was a professor of musicology.

Elizabeth was the inaugural director of the New Zealand School of Music from 2006 to 2013, overseeing a number of successful initiatives to advance the school’s academic and research programs and international profile.  She crafted a vision for the school, providing rigorous musical and academic leadership across disciplines, fostering new modes of interaction between music and other disciplines, and recruiting outstanding faculty from across the globe.

During her seven-year tenure as director, Elizabeth’s accomplishments included overhauling the curriculum to enhance professional training, improving the research-teaching nexus, and increasing cross-disciplinary collaboration.  She facilitated the creation of a joint PhD program between music and Engineering, and her leadership established the preeminence of the NZSM’s research faculty in the 2012 national research quality evaluation. On the operational side, she successfully managed the merger of two very different music institutions—Massey’s Conservatorium of Music and Victoria’s School of Music—while also implementing sound financial management and creating a new leadership structure within the school.

Prior to her tenure at the New Zealand School of Music, Elizabeth held both faculty and administrative leadership positions at the University of Virginia, where she worked to forge relationships across a range of disciplines from media studies and women’s studies to engineering.  As director of undergraduate programs in the McIntire Department of Music, she administered an innovative bachelor’s program that received national acclaim. As director of graduate programs, she led a Ph.D. in music that created a novel and inclusive approach to graduate training, reshaping disciplinary boundaries.  As chair of the department, she recruited outstanding faculty, increased the department’s visibility and fundraising profile, and built upon the distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs at UVA.

Throughout Elizabeth’s academic career, she has received numerous grants and fellowships, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lilly Teaching Fellowship, the University of Virginia Sesquicentennial Associate for the Centre for Advanced Studies, and the Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellowship at Downing College, Cambridge University.

Elizabeth was founding Assistant Editor and later Associate Editor of the Cambridge Opera Journal, and is currently a member of the executive board of the American Institute of Verdi Studies and an editorial board member of Verdi Forum.  Her critical edition of Verdi’s Il corsaro (published by The University of Chicago Press) has received performances around the world, including at Covent Garden, Trieste, Parma, and Barcelona, and is widely available in a DVD video recording.  She has published in leading academic journals and presses on the operas of Verdi, Donizetti, and Puccini.  Her current work blends approaches from the fields of musicology, Italian Risorgimento history, trauma studies and recent work in the neuroscience of music and emotion to propose a new understanding of Verdi’s middle period operas.

Elizabeth studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music and in Vienna, and later received her bachelor’s degree from Smith College and her master’s degree and Ph.D., both in musicology, from Cornell University.  She was awarded an AMS 50 Fellowship for her dissertation on Verdi.

Jonathan Kaufman

Director, School of Journalism Northeastern University

Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, editor, and author. He has held senior positions at Bloomberg NewsThe Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe.
As Bloomberg’s Executive Editor for Company News, based in New York, Kaufman oversaw more than 300 reporters and editors worldwide covering business, health, science, education, and international news. Under his leadership, Kaufman’s team at Bloomberg won numerous awards including a 2015 Pulitzer Prize, several George Polk Awards, the Overseas Press Club Award, a Gerald Loeb Award, the Osborn Elliott Prize of the Asia Society, and the Education Writers Association Grand Prize.

Before joining Bloomberg, Kaufman was deputy Page One editor at The Wall Street Journaland also served as The Wall Street Journal’s China Bureau Chief, based in Beijing. During his time as the Journal’s China Bureau Chief, Kaufman led coverage of the country’s emergence as a global economic superpower, the SARS outbreak, and political, environmental, and social issues. As a Page One feature writer for The Wall Street Journal, Kaufman covered race and class issues in neighborhoods and cities across America as well as in the workplace and on college campuses

David Lazer

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Sciences, Co-Director of NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks

Professor Lazer is a professor of political science and computer and information science and the co-director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Before joining the Northeastern faculty in fall 2009, he was an associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Program on Networked Governance. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. Professor Lazer’s research centers on social networks; governance, or how the patterns of institutional relations yield functional or dysfunctional systems; and technology and its use in communication. An authority on social networks, he has written several papers on the diffusion of information among interest groups and between these groups and the government. He is the co-editor of Governance and Information Technology: From Electronic Government to Information Government and also written extensively on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system.

Andrew Losowsky

Project Lead, Coral Project

Andrew Losowsky is the Project Lead of The Coral Project, a collaboration between Mozilla, The New York Times and The Washington Post. It brings journalists and the communities they serve closer together through open-source tools and practices. He was previously a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, and worked on product and editorial at News Corp and The Huffington Post. He has written for The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Times of London, and has also co-created a pop-up magazine, a museum on a street, a festival of independent publishing, a printed time capsule, and a human-sized board game about city development. He lives in New York City.

Mary Meehan

Journalist, WEKU & Ohio Valley ReSource

Mary Meehan brings 30 years of experience to the health beat at the Ohio Valley ReSource. Born in Kentucky, Mary is a proud alum of Western Kentucky University. (Go Tops!) A winner of dozens of state, regional and national journalism awards, Mary has covered exploding hotels, trashed trailers, epic ER wait times , Salem the Wonder Cat and one Santa convention in Branson, Mo. As a 2016 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Mary studied digital journalism and the challenge of using public health policy to create sustainable social change. While generally refraining from pictures of her lunch, Mary has recently become addicted to Instagram where you can follow her @TheMaryMeehan. You can also check her out on Twitter @TheMaryMeehan and @OVReSRC.

Tim Phillips

Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board, Beyond Conflict

Timothy Phillips has launched several innovative organizations in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors that address critical and emerging global issues. In 1992, he co-founded Beyond Conflict, a pioneering and widely respected conflict resolution and reconciliation initiative that has made important contributions to the consolidation of peace and democracy around the world. Beyond Conflict brings together leaders from a broad spectrum of countries to share firsthand experience in ending conflict, building civil society and fostering peaceful coexistence and has worked in countries and regions that have included Northern Ireland, South Africa, the Balkans, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Beyond Conflict has achieved international recognition for its significant contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process, national reconciliation in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and its catalytic role in helping launch the field of transitional justice.

Gordana Rabrenovic

Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict.

Gordana Rabrenovic is an associate professor of sociology and the director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University. Her research and publications are in the area of community studies and intergroup conflict and violence. Her current work focuses on the initiation, escalation, and persistence/dersistance of conflict and violence in three conflict areas: Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and the Balkans, Her books include Why We Hate, which she co-authored with Jack Levin. She is working on a book on post-conflict reconstruction in Northern Ireland.

Alessandra Renzi

Assistant Professor in Emergent Media Program in Media and Screen Studies & Department of Art + Design Northeastern University

Alessandra Renzi is Assistant Professor in Emergent Media for the Program in Media and Screen Studies and the Department of Art + Design at Northeastern University. Her work explores the relays between media, art and activism through ethnographic studies and collaborative media production. Her research interests have led her to study pirate television networks in Italy, the surveillance of social movements in Canada, and, more recently, movements for data justice.  

Rebecca Riccio

Director, Social Impact Lab Northeastern University

Rebecca Riccio is the founding Director of The Social Impact Lab at Northeastern University, an innovation hub that bridges sectors, disciplines, and generations to facilitate knowledge building in the social impact arena. The Social Impact Lab houses several programs that Rebecca has built on a foundation of twenty years’ experience working and teaching at the forefront of the social change arena, including Northeastern Students4Giving (NS4G), an experiential philanthropy education program, and Giving With Purpose, the world’s first massive open online course (MOOC), on effective charitable giving and informed civic engagement.

Sangita Shresthova

Director , Henry Jenkins' Civic Paths Group University of Southern California

Sangita is the Director of Henry Jenkins’ Civic Paths Group based at the University of Southern California.  Her work focuses on intersections among popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. Her recent research has focused on issues of participation, storytelling and surveillance among American Muslim youth and the achievements and challenges faced by Invisible Children pre-and-post Kony2012. She is also one of the authors on By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of Youth, a book published by NYU Press in May 2016. Her earlier book on Bollywood dance fan cultures (Is It All About Hips?) was published in 2011. Sangita is also the founder of, a global Bollywood dance project. Her creative work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul), and the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC).

Alicia Stewart

COO, Harvard Alumni for Entrepreneurs, Chicago

Alicia Stewart is a media entrepreneur and 2015 Harvard Nieman Fellow. In 2007, she joined CNN to launch Engage, a unit that identified and incorporated under-covered stories into network coverage. She spent seven years there creating and growing acclaimed projects: as a senior producer for the “In America” documentary unit, and later as editor of the blog. Under her leadership, the In America website had its highest traffic day, and was recognized by theSociety for Features Journalism for Excellence in Feature Writing. In 2011, she was part of five co-organizers that re-launched the New York chapter of theOnline News Association (ONA), and grew that volunteer community from zero to more than 1500 members in three years, the largest affiliate chapter. She was co-host of the 2013 national ONA conference, and is a frequent speaker who has spoken at SXSW, Harvard University and been a keynote at the 2014 Google for Media conference in Boston.

John Wihbey

Assistant Professor, New Media & Innovation, School of Journalism, Northeastern University

John Wihbey is an assistant professor of journalism and new media at Northeastern University, where he teaches in the Media Innovation program and is a faculty member with the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Previously, he was a lecturer at Boston University and an assistant director at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where he oversaw the Journalist’s Resource project. Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Knight Foundation, that project has played a leading role in bridging media and social science, and promoting the concept of knowledge-based journalism.

John writes for the Boston GlobePacific Standard, Nieman Journalism Lab and Yale Climate Connections. His professional media background includes stints as a reporter for the Star-Ledger (N.J.), where he covered local politics and environmental issues, and as a producer and digital editor for the NPR-syndicated show “On Point with Tom Ashbrook,” from WBUR-Boston.

His areas of interest and research include: social media and social networks; digital storytelling; data journalism; media effects on society; Internet and telecommunications policy; and climate change-related communications issues. Under a grant from the Stanton Foundation, he is currently co-leading a research project about government transparency and online access to data.

John taught at the Roxbury Latin School in Boston after college. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and holds master’s degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. He lives with his family in Arlington, Mass.