The eighth annual What is…? conference-experience, What is Universe? examines communication, complexity/simplicity, coherence/incoherence and how they may or may not contribute to “a pluralistic universe”—networks of relationships. It addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time, including how do societies move forward when there is less shared agreement about the nature of our world, the problems confronting it, and/or the solutions necessary to improve it?

Scholars, practitioners, and other participants will explore universes—from reality bubbles, immersive virtual environments, and alternate histories, to agential realism, media genealogy and archaeology, to bio-inspired, urban and ecological design, to universal rights, disabilities studies, multicultural communities and cosmologies.

With definitions of “universe” continuing to multiply, important questions abound. We will address a sweeping range of issues next April in Portland, Oregon.

What is Media? (2016) elaborated a transdisciplinary notion of medium/media with special attention to its material, historical, and ecological ramifications.

What is Life? (2017) investigated how communication/media constitute and permeate all avenues and forms of life by examining our lifestyles and lifeworks, emphasizing the lifeworlds we live in.

What is Universe? (2018) will consummate the Media • Life • Universe trilogy. This conference-experience is also a prelude to Earth Day (April 22, 2018) and a two-month countdown to IAMCR 2018 (June 20–24, 2018).

This year’s conference-experience is dedicated to Prof. Tom Wheeler (1947–2018).