Public Affairs Conference 2019

Living in the 21st Century Digital World

The end of September marks the beginning of the Missouri State University Public Affairs Conference in 2019. The conference, officially running Oct. 1-3, is free to any student or person who wishes to attend.

Headed by cell and developmental biology Professor Paul Durham, the theme of the conference this year is 21st Century Digital World. Durham is also the director of the Center of Biomedical and Life Sciences at MSU and a member of multiple health organizations.

According to the MSU website, this years’ theme aims to examine the speed and effects of the constant use of technology by the world.

“Faced with the breakneck speed of technological change, how can an individual, a community or a nation celebrate its benefits while gracefully mitigating the price of progress,” the MSU website said.

On Sept. 30 from 7:30-8:30 p.m., a special pre-conference event will take place in the Plaster Student Union Theatre. The event, headed by music Professor Ann Marie Daehn, will be a musical production detailing the advancement of both technology and diversity in the Ozarks. 

The conference officially kicks off Oct. 1 with the appearance of DJ Bobby Bones in Juanita K. Hammons Hall for Performing Arts from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Bones is the host of iHeartRadio’s “The Bobby Bones Show” and winner of Season 27 “Dancing with the Stars.”

The MSU website describes him as “the most popular country music DJ in America.”

The second day lasts from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Topics range from connecting and using digital means for purchases, communication, healthcare or even agriculture.

At noon the second day, speaker Jason Anderson will cover privacy versus economics online. Anderson has worked with companies such as Microsoft and Blizzard, and now serves as head of independent music platform UnitedMasters.

“This session explores the reach and value of that hidden data and presents several long-term scenarios for the relationship among technology, regulatory policy, digital property rights and ethics frameworks for data science practices,” the MSU website said. 

The second speaker of day two is Sam Eathington, chief science officer of The Climate Corporation. Eathington will use his years of studies in the agricultural field to outline how digital technology will affect the world’s food issues.

The final day will include topics about privacy online, the use of drones and how the digital age is affecting analog games. 

The first speaker of day three is Spencer Harris, director of Springfield based tech company Mostly Serious. Harris’ panel is about how even though online games seem to be overtaking physical ones, players still enjoy traditional means of play alongside newer ones.

Following Harris is speaker Tianan Epps-Johnston. Founder and director of the Chicago-based Center for Technology and Civic Life, Epps-Johnston will cover how technology could be used to increase voter turnout during United States elections.

“She will focus on the approach the center takes in partnership with election officials, technology companies and civic engagement organizations to improve the U.S. elections process for millions,” the MSU website said. 

Finally, Harris returns to round out the conference with a “games extravaganza” in Duane G.  Meyer Library. 

“Experienced gamers, some of whom have developed their own board games, will be available to help you learn the most popular Eurogames, as well as card, dexterity and party games,” according to the MSU website.

Parking for the conference is available in both Bear Park North and South. Visit for complete information about the conference as well as a more detailed schedule.