When I was a young research assistant during my PhD in late 90s, I found the e-mail address of Prof. Dr. Maxwell McCombs, the founder of agenda setting theory. Since I was studying on the subject, I asked him many questions about my thesis in order to have a better understanding of the theory. I must have asked too many questions that later on, McCombs mentioned me in a speech that I gave him the third degree…
After I finished my thesis, McCombs and I wrote a paper together and presented it at an international symposium at Anadolu University in 2001. During this time, I also met the second founder of the theory, Prof. Dr. Donald Shaw. They both were guests of the symposium. We welcomed them at the airport in Istanbul, with my PhD thesis advisor Prof. Dr. Uğur Demiray, and brought them to Eskişehir. After the symposium, we traveled together for 2000 km in Turkey, including Konya and Cappadocia.
One year later, in 2002, I went to USA with a scholarship from University of Texas at Austin. There, I met Prof. Dr. Serra Görpe who was another visiting scholar. For six months, I attended lectures with McCombs and had the chance to visit other universities. During our visits, we talked about organizing an international symposium together. So I started working on this project to give my colleagues an opportunity for overseas experience and maintain our cooperation with American universities. One year later, in 2003, we had our first Communication in the New Millennium meeting in Austin with about 40 academics from Turkey. That was the original name of the event at the beginning of the story.
For the past 14 years, the number of papers presented reached 600 in our meetings. The symposiums took place one year in USA and the other in Turkey – in Istanbul University and Anadolu University in turn. Papers of academics from 34 countries and 143 universities were presented at our meetings and published in our conference proceedings. From time to time, special sessions were organized for workshops. Founders of different theories like ‘agenda setting’ and ‘spiral of silence’ explained their theories in various meetings. We held special sessions for PhD students where they had the chance to present their studies to our professors and receive advice.
Thanks to this organization, many academics had the experience of presenting a paper in English. Some of them went abroad for the very first time and had opportunity to explore United States and the universities over there. Besides, CIM symposiums created an academic network among participants and many of them even worked together in new research projects.
I see that the number of on-going academic meetings for the past 14 years in Turkey in the field of social sciences is very limited. Especially in the field of communications, there is not one national organization let alone an international one. This causes a lack of communication between communication scholars. Therefore, our symposium series seek to provide a strong communication bridge between scholars.
We have an open access policy and all papers presented at CIM are accessible online at our website’s archive. 600 published papers indicate the magnitude of knowledge that has been put forth by this symposium. Most papers, referring to different fields of communication studies, consist of studies about Turkey. As these papers are presented in English, communication research in Turkey is publicized to the world by means of CIM symposiums.
As the founding co-presidents of the symposium, Prof. Dr. Maxwell McCombs and my friend Prof.Dr. Serra Görpe and I, our common purpose was to start a dialogue between communication scholars and lead the way for younger academics. I am sure our symposium will improve year by year and reach more academics from Turkey, USA and all around the world.
Erkan Yüksel, Ph.D.
International Symposium: Communication in the Millennium