Reframing the Conversation on Social Issues

Reframing the Conversation on Social Issues

On November 21, 2016, Dr. Anna Marie Trester of the FrameWorks Institute in Washington, DC presented a webinar on strategic framing to students and guests of a Royal Roads class in communication theory. She discussed the power of the individualist discourse prevalent in the US and Canada, and how communicators can work to reframe it in the interests of furthering social, environmental and economic justice.

FrameWorks’ mission is “To advance the nonprofit sector's communications capacity by identifying, translating, and modeling relevant scholarly research to frame the public discourse on social problems.” Its clients include groups addressing health, education, early childhood development, criminal justice, immigration and climate change. It won the presgious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2015.

As manager of FrameWorks’ research interpretation and application unit, Dr. Trester oversees the org’s empirical approach to reframing the conversation on social issues, drawing on communications practice rooted in the cognitive and social sciences. A sociolinguist by training, she has taught at her alma mater, Georgetown University, among other schools, and co-edited a book, Discourse 2.0: Language and New Media (Georgetown University Press, 2013), with the renowned linguist and author, Deborah Tannen.

Titled “Reframing the Conversation on Social Issues: Widening the Lens through an Empirical Approach,” Dr. Trester’s one-hour webinar defines framing, shows how it actually operates (drawing on video examples from FrameWorks’ studies in Alberta), explains the organization's empirical approach, and outlines how students can apply its principles of Strategic Frame Analysis in their own practice.

The full webinar, in which she was joined by FrameWorks’ mighty digital-media associate, Segun Adesina, is available for your viewing here, with thanks to the excellent Dave Adams.

For more information, please e-mail Geo Takach at the School of Communication and Culture.