In the spring of 2018, a video from a student fraternity's secret initiation ceremony was leaked to the student newspaper at Syracuse University. That video, which included the embrace of racist, sexist, ableist, and anti-Semitic language, set off a campus-wide dialogue about inclusivity on campus. In response, the University engaged in a number of listening sessions and reevaluated what it already knew about itself. Throughout the summer of 2018, faculty and administration met to discuss and plan a series of initiatives to begin to change campus culture around diversity. For the fall 2018 semester, the University implemented a new first-year initiative that included required diversity-related coursework for first-year students, training for faculty, and other initiatives to assess and encourage a culture of inclusivity. The Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University simultaneously implemented changes to its core curriculum to better work inclusivity into its curriculum. This case study features representatives from the various university organizations who helped assess the issues and lead positive change. It includes specific information from our assessment regimen; discussion of curricular changes and challenges; and institutional barriers and solutions, both for the overall university and for the communications school in particular. We share assessment data and conclusions on what worked, and what still requires attention.
Associate Professor and Chair, Communications, Syracuse University, United States
NY, United States
Dr. Bradley Gorham currently serves as the Chair of the Communications department, and the Director of the Media Studies Master's Program, at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. His main research interest is in the relationship between the media we consume and our implicit and explicit associations with people from social groups defined around race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. As Communications Chair, he has helped the Newhouse School assess and make changes to its curriculum around issues of diversity and inclusion. He also regularly teaches courses on media and diversity, as well as on communication theory, and served on the university's Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee.