This year’s conference is "Looking forward!". After the recent, and ongoing, difficult times in Europe and around the world, the ICSI organisers are committed to looking forward. ICSI23 aims to establish a platform for contemplation and envisioning the future, as well as for proposing solutions, particularly from the perspective of communication scholars.
The conference was opened by Professor Leena Mikkola (Tampere University), Chair of the ECREA Interpersonal Communication and Social Interaction section, Katrin Saks, Vice-Rector for Development at Tallinn University and Professor Anastassia Zabrodskaja.
The first day of the conference began with a keynote address delivered by Dr Kristina Scharp, who holds the position of Associate Professor at Rutgers University's School of Communication and Information (New Jersey, United States). During her keynote presentation, entitled “Looking forward!: Interpersonal communication theorizing across metatheoretical perspectives and methodological approaches”, Dr Scharp anticipated the future and commenced by introducing the Theory of Communication (Dis)Enfranchisement. This theory is a postmodern critical framework that centres on the examination of ideologies that lead to the marginalization of individuals, the resulting implications of these ideologies, and the discourse that both reinforces and challenges these (dis)enfranchising ideologies. Looking forward, the progress in various forms of theorizing and analysis anticipates that scholars of interpersonal communication will take the lead in applying their research to address pressing and significant challenges that individuals need to navigate across various levels.
Subsequently, the conference day included four sessions, each discussing different aspects: relationship building and maintenance in a digital environment, interpersonal and relational issues in the workplace, interpersonal relationships as a source of well-being and inclusion, and influence perspectives on young people's education, participation, and possibilities.
As the first conference day's discussions unfolded, it became evident that scholars in the field of interpersonal communication are poised to play a vital role in addressing critical challenges individuals face on multiple fronts, promising a future where research informs and supports the navigation of complex interpersonal dynamics and societal issues. In conclusion, the first day of the conference provided an insightful and promising beginning.