frank (scholar, 2016) is a novel, one-day academic conference. It brings together 25 top researchers from various academic disciplines to collaboratively cultivate research that ignites lasting behavioral, institutional and social change. At frank (scholar, 2016), we believe that as a community great minds can inform and transform social change practice.

Scholars determined to use their research to create a better world will come to the University of Florida for the first-ever academic conference for public interest communications. frank (scholar, 2016) represents a step toward establishing the robust practice area of public interest communications as a unique academic discipline and building the connection between research and practice.

Public interest communications is the development and implementation of science-based, planned strategic communication campaigns with the main goal of achieving significant and sustained positive behavioral change on a public interest issue that transcends the particular interests of any single organization.

frank (scholar, 2016) represents a fresh approach to academic conferences with an emphasis on creating new ways to establish working friendships across disciplines, and it will use gaming and social networking to foster relationships. The capstone event will be a series of salon dinners where you will have the opportunity to sit down with people, whose work you find to be compatible and compelling, to talk and brainstorm future projects over dinner and drinks.

The Chairs:

  • Robert Benford, Ph.D

    Robert Benford, Ph.D

    Department of Sociology
    University of South Florida

    Dr. Benford is a leading social movement and framing scholar. He has won multiple awards and grants throughout his 30-year career. His works focus on framing processes, narratives, collective identity and other social constructionist issues associated with collective action.

    His works, which has been cited more than 20 thousand times, include Frame alignment processes, micromobilization, and movement participation, Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment and Ideology, frame resonance, and participant mobilization.

    In his work, he writes on the strategic framing processes of social movements, particularly in the Nuclear Disarmament Movement, the College Sports Reform Movement and the Peace and Justice Movement.

    Check out his C.V.

  • Kristin Demetrious, Ph.D

    Kristin Demetrious, Ph.D

    Associate Professor of Public Relations
    School of Communication and Creative Arts
    Deakin University, Australia

    Dr. Demetrious is an award winning public relations scholar from Australia. She is a 2014 and 2013 National Communication Association Book Award winner for her books ‘Public Relations, Activism and Social Change: Speaking Up’ and ‘Gender and Public Relations: Critical Perspectives on Vice, Image and Identity.’

    Demetrious is also an experienced media and communication practitioner who has operated her own consultancy, and at various times, worked in house as a publicist, video producer and public relations administrator.

    In her work she answers the questions “Why are some voices louder in public debates than others? And why can’t all voices be equally heard?” Kristen also writes on the future of P.R. in fostering social change.

    She studies grassroots activism, communication ethics, community engagement and citizenship.

    Check out her work.

  • Derina Holtzhausen, Ph.D.

    Derina Holtzhausen, Ph.D.

    College of Fine Arts and Communications
    Lamar University,  Texas

    Dr. Holtzhausen is a communications scholar originally from South Africa who writes on the intersections of postmodern theory and public relations. She is a strong proponent of the use of communication, media and the arts to promote social justice and discussions on diversity and equality.

    She has won numerous awards, grants and scholarships for her research, including a 2012 National Communication Association award for her bookPublic Relations as Activism: Postmodern Approaches to Theory and Practice. She is the founding editor for the International Journal of Strategic Communication, and consulting editor for theInternational Journal of Strategic Communication.

    Prior to her academic career, she served as head of corporate communication for the South African Tourism Board and an executive consultant for ABSA Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Check out her C.V.


  • Friday, February 26

    6:00 - 8:00 PM:

    Happy Hour and Hors d’oeuvres: The Bull, 18 SW 1st Ave.

  • Saturday, February 27

    8:30 AM:

    Doors Open/Registration: City Church, 19 SW 1 St, Gainesville

    9:00 - 9:30 AM:

    Welcome from the Hosts

    9:30 - 9:45 AM:

    Coffee break

    9:45 - 12:00 PM:

    Lightning Scholars: How can we best communicate for the public good? (Chair: Dr. Kristin Demetrious)

    12:00 - 1:00 PM:

    Lunch (provided)

    1:00 - 2:45 PM:

    Lightning Scholars: How to create and maintain social movements in the public interest? (Chair: Dr. Robert D. Benford)

    2:45 to 3:15 PM:


    3:15 - 5:15 PM:

    Lightning Scholars: How can we overcome societal/structural constraints to achieve public interest goals? (Chair: Dr. Derina Holtzhausen)

    5:15 - 7:30 PM:

    Salons: Walking in groups to local restaurants.

    7:30 - 10:00 PM:

    Desserts and Drinks: The Jones, 203 SW 2nd Ave