International Communication Association

The International Communication Association (ICA) is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication.[1] It began more than 60 years ago as a small organization of U.S. researchers and now is truly international with more than 4500 members in over 85 countries. Approximately two-thirds of members are academic scholars, professors, and graduate students, with the remaining members in government, the media, communication technology, business law, medicine and other professions.[2] ICA also has 59 institutional members (i.e. university departments or related institutions) and a growing number (16) of association members (i.e. communication associations around the world).

International Communication Association
FormationJanuary 1, 1950
HeadquartersWashington, D.C, United States

ICA is headquartered in Washington, D.C, United States. Since 2003, ICA has been officially associated with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO).


ICA was founded on January 1, 1950 in Austin, Texas as the National Society for the Study of Communication (NSSC), a subsidiary organization of the Speech Association of America (now the (United States) National Communication Association), when the SSA determined to exclude basic communication studies from its primary focus on rhetoric. The following year, NSSC published the first issue of its official journal, Journal of Communication.

In 1967, the NSSC formally separated from the SSA and opened its membership to scholars outside of the U.S. It changed its name two years later to the International Communication Association. The association restructured into divisions to allow members to find and interact with colleagues who shared similar research interests, among the widely diverse disciplines of communication study.

In the face of increasing internationalization, ICA relocated its offices from Austin, TX to the more cosmopolitan and globally accessible Washington, D.C. in 2001. The association purchased a permanent headquarters in Washington in 2006.


ICA is governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of:

  • the Executive Committee – President, Presidents-Elect and -Elect Select, the three immediate past Presidents – the least recent of whom serves as Finance Chair – and the Executive Director.
  • Five Board Members-at-Large, representing five international regions as defined by UNESCO: the Americas; Europe; East Asia; West & South Asia; and Africa-Oceania.
  • Two graduate student representatives.
  • The chairs of ICA's Divisions and Interest Groups (although Interest Group representatives do not have voting rights).

The officers (except for the Executive Director) are elected by the association's members. The balloting for President and regional Members-at-Large is association-wide; student representatives are elected by ICA's student members, while Division and Interest Group chairs are chosen by the Division/Interest Group members. Terms of office begin and end at the conclusion of each year's annual ICA conference.

The president of ICA serves a one-year term; however, the Executive Committee's makeup of incoming and past presidents means that election as ICA president brings with it a six-year commitment to serve on the Executive Committee. The current (2017–2018) president is Paula Gardner (McMaster University), and the current President-Elect is Patricia Moy (University of Washington). Past presidents include Peng Hwa Ang (Nanyang Technological University), Amy Jordan (University of Pennsylvania), and Peter Vorderer (University of Mannheim).

ICA maintains a series of standing and awards committees to conduct its business in relation to membership, internationalization, publications, liaison with other agencies, etc., annual awards, and ad hoc task forces. Committee members are appointed by the president.

The association is administered by the five-member staff at ICA's offices in Washington, D.C. The staff is led by the Executive Director, a position held since 2016 by Laura Sawyer.

Divisions and Interest GroupsEdit

ICA's members are drawn from several disciplines, focuses, and approaches to the communication discipline. Its membership is thus organized into Divisions and Interest Groups that gather scholars and students of common research interests into formal structures within the association.

New "Interest Groups" are formed when a group of 30 or more active members of the association may petition the Executive Director to establish an Interest Group. An interest group appoints its own officers, is allocated conference sessions, and is represented in the Board of Directors, but does not have voting rights.

An interest group enrolling at least 1 percent of the members of ICA for at least two consecutive years may apply to become a "Division". A division also appoints its own offices, and is allocated conference sessions, but unlike Interest Groups, Divisions are granted voting status on the Board of Directors.

As of 2017 there are 23 Divisions and 9 Interest Groups within the association.[3]


ICA sponsors a large annual conference for its members to present research representing the latest advances in the field of communication. The conference is held in a different city each year, with every fourth year's conference located outside of North America.

Each year's conference has a theme, around which the conference planners organize discussion panels designed to integrate and promote discovery, learning, and engagement as panelists and audience members from different regions of the world take up the conversation on particular topics. The conference also includes annual plenary sessions featuring panels or keynote speakers. One of the plenaries is the Interactive Paper Session, in which participants display their work in the form of visual poster presentations and are awarded based on both the merit of their research and the visual quality of their presentations.

In addition, each of ICA's Divisions and Interest Groups organizes presentations and panels that explore the advancements within those Divisions' research focuses. These sessions often examine the conference theme from the aspects of the Divisions/Interest Groups.

ICA's President-Elect is head of the planning committee for the conference immediately following his/her election, and acts as the chair of that conference.


The International Communication Association's publishing partner is Oxford University Press.


ICA currently publishes six scholarly journals:

Book seriesEdit

  • Communication in the Public Interest, a series that explores the communication field's contributions to and potential impact on issues that have real world effects and implications, or that affect people's lives.
  • Communication Yearbook, an annual publication featuring state-of-the-discipline literature reviews of communication research. Each chapter includes a comprehensive examination of research on a communication topic and articulates the importance of that literature for a global community of diverse communication scholars and stakeholders. In 2016 CY transitioned into a journal, Annals of ICA.
  • The Encyclopedia of Communication, an A-Z, multi-volume work that serves as a reference source for important ideas, people, and publications in the academic field of communication.
  • Handbooks of Communication, a series of summaries of current communication scholarship that consider content areas in communication research, methodological approaches to communication research, and theoretical lenses for scholarship in communication.
  • Theme Sessions Series, an annual selection of papers from the theme sessions of that year's ICA Annual Conference.


ICA publishes the web-based monthly ICA Newsletter for its members, providing news and updates on the business of the association as well as advertisements for available job positions, calls for papers, and other content related to the discipline in general and ICA in specific.


Fellow status in ICA is primarily a recognition of distinguished scholarly contributions to the broad field of communication. The primary consideration for nomination to Fellow status is a documented record of scholarly achievement. Living ICA fellows include Charles Berger, Jennings Bryant, Patrice Buzzanell, Robert T. Craig, Brenda Dervin, Nicole Ellison, Lawrence Grossberg, Klaus Krippendorff, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Sonia Livingstone, Joseph Walther, and Patti Valkenburg.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About ICA". International Communication Association. Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  2. ^ "International Communication Association Online". University of Southern California. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  3. ^

External linksEdit