UA Hosts International Association for Relationship Research Mini Conference

Jun 20, 2023

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Last weekend, The University of Alabama hosted the 2023 International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) Mini Conference. The conference ran from Thursday, June 8, through Saturday, June 10, and featured presentations from international scholars and leaders. 

An interdisciplinary team from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and College of Human Environmental Sciences (CHES) hosted the event. Dr. Leah LeFebvre, Dr. Josh Pederson, Dr. Robert Laird and Dr. Casey Totenhagen were its lead organizers.  

The planning team initially scheduled the IARR Mini Conference in 2018, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conference schedules shifted, and it was pushed to this summer. As a result, the conference garnered widespread attention, resulting in 100 participants from more than 60 universities and 10 countries, spanning undergraduate and graduate students, professors and practitioners.  

The event began with a preconference in Reese Phifer that encouraged attendees to reflect and discuss inclusivity and diversity and asked them to think critically through research design. 

On Friday and Saturday, the conference featured sessions devoted to research initiatives. Keynotes by Dr. Susan Boon, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, and Dr. Brian Spitzberg, senate distinguished professor of communication at San Diego State University, captivated participants’ attention with their scholarship, experience and perspectives on the dark sides of relationships.  

Additionally, conference participants were invited to experience Tuscaloosa through a number of activities, such as expanding their knowledge of local history through civil rights tours, tasting the local and regional cuisine and singing karaoke. 

The conference was made possible through the support of IARR leadership, Dr. Stanley Gaines, and UA leadership, including C&IS’s former dean, Dr. Mark Nelson, and Dean Brian Butler. CHES Dean Stuart Usdan, Dr. Beth Bennett and Dr. Darrin Griffin were also key to the conference’s success. Additionally, hosts were grateful to the University and community, including UA Graduate School, Supe Store and City of Tuscaloosa for offering sponsorship with the Tuscaloosa Tourism Grant who helped make the conference successful. 

IARR offers the ability for multidisciplinary and international representation from a diverse network of scholars.