50th Anniversary Symposium | Communication as Critique

December 1-2, 2023, Downtown Vancouver

The symposium is a celebration of faculty, students and alumni from the past and present of the School, whose work intersects with the major themes in our 50th Anniversary celebration. Join us for interactive panel discussions, performances, dialogue and creative engagement.  

In 2023, SFU’s School of Communication will celebrate its 50th anniversary by offering a series of events that aim to revisit and explore a range of critical scholarship and practice that has been a feature of the School since the beginning. Curated around the theme, Communication as Critique, the 50th Anniversary celebrations bring together the work of world-class scholars to engage with the legacies and future research of faculty and students in the School of Communication. 

In our celebrations, we will host a 50th Anniversary Fall Symposium, with a feature keynote lecture on the evening of December 1st, followed by a day of lively and engaged panel presentations on December 2nd, drawing from current and previous members of faculty and graduate students, and focusing on four thematic areas (see below) that have long informed critical research and teaching in Communication and Media Studies.

50th Anniversary Thematic Areas

Global Communication 

Global communication scholarship has long posed critical questions about the nature of knowledge and epistemic power in our field, the role of structural conditions that undergird processes of mediatization and forms of counter-knowledge and practice generated in and with the Global South. While advocating for forms of immanent critique that align with the struggle for national and transnational labour rights, gender equity, environmental protection or racial justice, global communication scholars have been at the forefront of calls for the development of a more balanced and just field of study. In celebration of the School of Communication’s 50th Anniversary, in this thematic stream, we draw on past and present research from scholars working together with, within or emerging from the School, to explore ongoing epistemic transformations in our field, including the structures of change shaping global communication infrastructures, practices and priorities today.


How do we connect critical theories of technology – including ones keyed to the infrastructural complexities of socio-technical and scientific assemblages – to ethical and political investigations into alternative paradigms of connection, interactivity and use? How are the potentials and affordances of technicity to be opened up to democratizing and emancipatory practices, and pulled away from their entanglement in authoritarian, exclusionary and exploitative projects? The critique of technology and forms of practical criticism embodied in and embedded by technical systems form an open field of what we’re calling ‘technocritique’ to capture an ample and diverse range of texts, inquiries and research programmes that have emerged from the School of Communication over the past half century.


Different identities and lived experiences along race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, and citizenship are constructed and communicated through ruling relations, institutions, popular media, and public discourse. Intersectionality as critique highlights an interdisciplinary, critical approach to communication and media scholarship that centres on voices and practices that have been marginalized and/or excluded in research and society. In this stream, we celebrate and feature work that interrogates how underprivileged and subordinated people are subject to the interlocking systems of oppression wrought by capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and cisnormativity, while also exploring the emancipatory possibilities fostered by activist politics and social movements for equality and justice in varied local, national and transnational contexts.

Fostering Social Justice 

One of the early objectives in the foundation of the School of Communication was to engage in work in the field of communication for social justice. Historically, this tradition is reflected in work invested in fostering democracy, including digital rights, advocating for peace and human rights, and promoting activism that aims to disrupt structures of power across societies. In this thematic stream we celebrate research and scholarship across the School’s 50-year history that addresses the critique of political economy and capitalism’s deleterious effects on values of equity, peace, environmental health, media democracy and non-precarious labour conditions, reflecting the longstanding commitment of many members of the School community to social activism in the service of progressive social change.

For follow up and updates, please contact our Event Coordinator at cmns50@sfu.ca.