What is Universe? Communications • Complexity • Coherence

The eighth annual What is…?  Conference-Experience took place from April 19-21 at the White Stag Building, University of Oregon in Portland, Oregon. What is Universe? included over 100 international, national, and regional researchers (as well as the general public), who participated in six plenary sessions and over 20 panels.

The participants examined communication, complexity, simplicity, coherence, incoherence and how they may or may not contribute to “a pluralistic universe”— or networks of relationships. It expanded the University of Oregon’s commitment to transdisciplinary research and its impact—by cultivating communication at the heart of science, technology, and their environments.

The event continued to catalyze and accelerate the impact of transdisciplinary inquiry across a wide range of “universes,” not limited to: systems, ecologies, social worlds, native pragmatism, politics, news, solutions journalism, documentary, entertainment, games, comics, immersive virtual realities, digital identity and embodied practice, advertising, effects, globalization, posthumanism and agential realism, IoT, maker culture, urban ecodesign, multicultural communities and cosmologies.

With definitions of “universe” continuing to expand, the gathering marked the third collaboration with scholars from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts.  It also consummated the Media • Life • Universe trilogy that included:

What is Media? (2016) – a transdisciplinary notion of medium/media with special attention to its material, historical, and ecological ramifications.

What is Life? (2017) – investigated how communication/media constitute and permeate all avenues and forms of life by examining our lifestyles and lifeworks, emphasizing the lifeworlds we live in.

What is Universe? (2018) – built on the previous two years’ conference-experiences and was also a prelude to Earth Day (April 22, 2018) and a two-month countdown to Reimagining Sustainability: IAMCR 2018 (June 20–24, 2018).

Important contributions were made by a number of international conference participants, including researchers from France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Philippines, Korea, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, India, Syria, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Ghana. One panel used teleconferencing to add an international panel that was gathered in Italy, organized and chaired by Bosch alumni, Professor Peter Laufer, from the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon. The conference also benefited from the participation of Professor Antonio Lopez, from John Cabot University in Rome, Italy, who presented research and chaired on of the main plenary panels.

For more information, see the conference website at: whatis.uoregon.edu

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