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Diversity, Equity, and inclusion

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Statement

​​​​​​

The Communication Department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee has created guiding principles to recognize the differences of individuals, based on various dimensions and how they intersect. They include age, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, social class and educational background, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, culture, ideology, politics, religion, citizenship status, marital status, job classification, veteran status, parental status, body size, and justice-involved histories.

The following statement represents the commitment of Communication faculty to diversity:

“Supporting equity in our faculty, students, and staff, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion in our teaching, research, and service are important priorities that contribute to the strength of our department. As communication scholars, we recognize the centrality of communication in the struggle against discrimination and actively engage this struggle in our work as educators and scientists. We also further principles of equity and inclusion within our department through recruitment and retention, graduate training, and open and productive dialogue.​“

The faculty takes the following actions to support its commitment:

  • Understand and appreciate interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.

  • Practice mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.

  • Understand that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing.

  • Purposefully include and amplify diverse voices.

  • Recognize that personal, cultural, and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others.

  • Build alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate discrimination.

  • Support the University’s scholarly, pedagogical and ecologically and socially engaged relationships with our state, region, and global indigenous communities.

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Teaching Principles

Steve Mortenson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, recommends the following approaches to ensuring an inclusive classroom environment for students:

  • Understand the scope and range of racial bias. Racism is bias plus the power to wield it. While all people are vulnerable to biased thinking, only some turn their bias into racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, etc. Make the distinction between racism and bias at the start. Colorism is another form of prejudice or discrimination typically occurring among people of the same ethnic or racial group. Help students realize that bias is a human phenomenon that is not limited to specific racial or ethnic groups.

  • Educate students on how implicit bias and privilege can influence judgments and decisions. Share articles that allow students to reflect on the effects of bias such as Maggie Scarf’s article White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack​. The Implicit Bias Review (Kirwan Institute, 2017) presents findings from scientific research for professionals in working in law, business, and medicine.

  • Support students of color. Regularly ask students of color questions about the non-race related aspects of class material. Make sure they feel seen and heard. If they do speak up about race, support their comments and be ready to defend what they say if they are challenged. Correct the use of racist or offensive terms. Acknowledge the perspective in a rational, unemotional manner. Talk to students of color after class or outside of class. Offer help if it’s needed. Call out and acknowledge your own privilege whenever possible.

  • Create more exclusive spaces. If you are teaching a big lecture class, invite the underrepresented students to meet and greet events and study sessions. Such events create psychologically safer spaces that encourage class participation.

Carolyn White Bartoo, a public relations instructor, has doubled the time spent on analyzing race depicted in advertising, and she has incorporated new readings and case studies. She encourages class discussions about race and social media, bias, power dynamics, and the impact of stress and anxiety on the way we filter information.

John Crowley, Ph.D., Associate Professor, is committed to effectively and responsibly facilitating controversial or sensitive discussions about diversity. “Students are more willing to self-reflect and disclose when they are confident in their instructor’s knowledge base and ability to provide a resolution,” says Crowley. In the classroom, Crowley creates an environment where diverse opinions are welcome and not subject to unwarranted criticism. To help individuals in marginalized groups cope with covert and overt discrimination, Crowley encourages students to consider how interpersonal communication concepts and theories apply to people with a diverse range of identities. “My goals are to not only encourage students to think critically about their own privileges and what that affords them, but also to help students of color and LGBTQ students in my courses access and relate with the course content in a more meaningful way.”

Morgan Ellithorpe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, gives students the tools to critically engage with diversity issues to ensure that individuals ethically and mindfully produce media content. “Diversity must be considered in all aspects of media, from who owns media companies, to who writes and directs the content, to what channels act as conduits, to who is consuming the content,” says Ellithorpe. “The more we practice thinking about diversity in all aspects of our media system, the more equipped we will be to demand and engender change in that system.”

Lindsay Hoffman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, teaches courses on media, politics, technology, campaigns, and elections. Hoffman is keenly focused on viewpoint diversity in the classroom. “Students go through an online training as well as in-class activities to address their own biases and develop cognitive tools to inhibit those biases. I also help students develop media literacy skills to be able to critically evaluate claims in media. Current events also play a huge role in all my classes. We have news quizzes so students must stay aware of what’s happening in the U.S. and the world.” Hoffman also leads discussions for fraternity/sorority leadership, student groups, and high schools to learn how to have difficult conversations about controversial topics.

Lydia Timmins, Ph.D., Associate Professor, teaches courses on news and journalism. Diversity is a critical part of effective journalism —​ in terms of covering communities and focusing on individuals. Her students must consider how people are defined and portrayed in news. Diversity comes in many forms, from race to gender to disability to socio-economic.

Danna Young​, Ph.D., Professor, teaches courses on media effects, media economics, and the logic and incentives of the digital information environment. Young encourages students to think about how issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation and identity guide messaging creation and dissemination. “I encourage students to think about how digital technologies force power to migrate downstream away from elites in ways that upend official narratives regarding racial injustices (like police brutality for example),” says Young. “I also urge students to consider how cultural, racial, and gender identities are themselves reinforced and even exploited by those seeking power and profit.”

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Research Interests

James Angelini, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, studies framing of sex, gender, race, and nationality in sports commentary in televised sports broadcasts.

Paul Brewer, Ph.D., Professor, researches public opinion about LGBT people, rights, and candidates; and racial attitudes and public opinion about voter ID laws.

John Crowley, Ph.D., Associate Professor​, is a member of a small cohort of communication scholars that pioneers the study of the physiology of interpersonal communication. In particular, he researches the use of biosocial models to understand the effects of coping for recipients of hurtful and discriminatory communication (both covert and overt). Crowley is actively training graduate students in the use of these methods.

Morgan Ellithorpe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor​, studies media effects on health and well-being and how media can exacerbate or ameliorate disparities among groups with poor health outcomes. Ellithorpe also researches media representation and its impact on social groups based on identity categories and their intersections, including race and ethnicity, sex and gender, sexuality, ability, and social class.

​Lindsay Ho​ffman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, examines disparities in political participation, news media use, and efficacy. Hoffman currently researches how different generations view fake news; how strategy frames may enhance political knowledge in males versus females (and how to fix those frames); how politics plays a role in African-American churches compared to white churches; and how transgender rights and candidates are viewed by Americans. She also supervises graduate research on athlete protests against police brutality and comparative studies between Kenya and the United States.

As part of her quantitative research of political communication and media effects, Danna Y​oung​, Ph.D., Professor​, examines psychological processing and effects of mediated political messages. Her research interests include studying how racial and cultural systemic inequities and injustices affect message exposure and outcomes.

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Funding Opportunities in Communication

Undergraduate

McNair Scholars Program —​ ​Provides support and preparation for doctoral studies to low-income, first-generation college students and students from underrepresented groups. This includes funded support for summer research ($3,500 + on-campus housing).

UD Undergraduate Research Scholars Program —​ Provides summer research opportunities for students NOT currently enrolled at UD. Support includes $4000, housing + transportation.

Graduate

University Graduate Scholars Award —​ Provides up to two years of graduate fellowship support for members of historically underrepresented groups (African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, two or more races, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander); those with physical disabilities; need as determined by federal income guidelines [FAFSA], or first-generation college students.

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Campus Resources

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Carolyn White Bartoo, Public Relations Instructor​

Morgan Ellithorpe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor​

​Lindsay Hoffman​, Ph.D., Associate Professor​

Tracey Holden​, Ph.D., Assistant Professor​

Steve Mortenson, Ph.D., Associate Professor​

Kami Silk, Ph.D., Rosenberg Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Communication​

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