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Northwestern School of Communication

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Northwestern's School of Communication enjoys a reputation as a global leader in the communication arts and sciences, with alumni, faculty, and students who excel at the top of their fields. Yet recent national conversations around anti-Black racism and injustice, when viewed through the lens of our community’s many achievements, shows us that access to our resources and opportunities for advancement are not equal—not on the national level, and certainly not at the University and School level.

Expanding access to opportunities, thinking critically about our established curriculum and its implications, engaging in thoughtful conversations with scholars outside the academy, and pushing for institutional change are to the benefit of everyone, but especially our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) community of students, faculty, and staff who have long been kept at the margins.

By elevating and committing to celebrate the voices of this community, we will shift not only the School’s culture but also the functions of the professions we study, our government, and society at large. The School of Communication will be a leader in systemic change.

It is through the following initiatives as well as ongoing evaluation of our work in this space that we will create school that leads not only through our achievements but also through the breadth of voices actualizing our excellence.

Highlighted Initiatives

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force

Our school-wide task force, launched in 2021, includes students, faculty, and staff charged with ensuring that we all embrace the urgency of this moment, that we communicate constructively, that we listen and learn, and that we are prepared to do the work of authentic, impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion. The group will work in consultation with leadership and staff in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion to create and implement best practices for SoC, including School-wide DEI training and workshops.

Black Arts Consortium

Formerly the Black Arts Initiative, the dean’s flagship multidisciplinary collaborative of Northwestern Black artists and scholars is growing. The group now has space to work, meet, and perform on the 18th floor of Abbott Hall on the Chicago campus. BAC offerings will include expanded programming, more artist residencies, more on-campus and virtual screenings of Black films, additional Black Arts in the City excursions, and new undergraduate and graduate opportunities.

Dialogue with the Dean

The Dean hosts quarterly events to spotlight emerging and established communicators who are advancing the future of their fields, challenging paradigms, and promoting social justice. Past guests were scholars who examined race, ethnicity, and class or who used their platforms to tell forgotten or ignored stories. The 2022-23 season will focus on comedy-makers, particularly those who speak truth to power.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund

A new pipeline helps Northwestern postdoctoral scholars advance seamlessly into tenure-track faculty positions here—a program that is the first of its kind at the University. The David Mancosh Pathways to the Professoriate Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund has allowed SoC to support efforts to search for and hire BIPOC and intersectional scholars while also ensuring these candidates feel at home and empowered in our school.

CommFutures: The SoC Mentoring & Development Initiative

While an invitation to teach in the School of Communication is a coveted honor, for postdoctoral fellows, PhD candidates, and early-career faculty, the process can be fraught with questions about resources, pathways to advancement, and research funding. To address these concerns, we launched a program of conversations and workshops to provide guidance and support to those just beginning their university teaching journeys. This has established a culture of equity and accessibility across all ranks and contribute to extraordinary learning outcomes for our students.

Welcoming Diverse Faculty, Staff & Students

The last three recruitment seasons have yielded the most diverse new faculty cohorts in SoC history—not only from the perspective of their identity, but as intrinsic elements of their research and creative practice as well. New staff hires have been far more diverse than in years past. As of Fall 2022, all the MFA programs will be fully funded. The move seeks to make advanced degrees more attainable, especially for students of color or those without generational wealth and bolster arts institutions that depend on diverse perspectives and experiences.

Land Acknowledgement Statement 

We are on sacred ground. Northwestern University is on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires—the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa—as well as the Menominee, Miami, and Ho-Chunk nations.  

Before it was stolen from them through colonization and forced removal, this land was a site of trade, travel, gathering, and healing for more than a dozen other native tribes. The state of Illinois is still home to over 100,000 tribal members.

In the spirit of healing and making amends for the harm that was done, we acknowledge the native and indigenous peoples who called this land home. And we pledge ourselves as members of the Northwestern School of Communication to turn our statements into action and build better relationships with native and indigenous communities in Evanston, in Chicago, and throughout the region.