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SOC Celebrates Inaugural Inclusive Excellence Week

It was easy to see that inclusive excellence is baked into coursework, community, and research at American University School of Communication (AU SOC) this past week.

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Jeffrey Madison, Tambra Stevenson, and Sherri Williams.

"Inclusive Excellence Week" was composed of a series of events, including a film screening and discussion, a guest lecture, a research panel, community engagement and networking, and photo pop-ups.

The week kicked off with a screening of "Street Reporter," professor Laura Hinson’s award-winning short documentary which follows two Street Sense reporters, homeless themselves, documenting DC’s tent city. The film was followed by a panel discussion that featured the reporters, Shiela White and Reggie Black, moderated by Hinson. The screening was a great kickoff event and very powerful to have the two main characters in the documentary in attendance. Students asked some great questions,”said Kristi Plahn-Gjersvold, SOC’s Assistant Dean for Administration & Strategic Initiatives and chair of SOC's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. The film was funded, in part, by an SOC Race Matters grant.

Sheila and Reggie reporting from tent city.
Reggie and Sheila reporting from tent city in a scene from "Street Reporter." 

Professor Aram Sinnreich invited Vivien Goldman to visit his as a guest lecturer “Vivien Goldman has been on the front lines of music’s role in racial reckoning and postcolonial struggle since her time working with artists such as Bob Marley and Fela Kuti in the 1970s. Her deep dive into the “punky reggae party” as a guest lecturer in Musical Cultures & Industries helped students connect the dots between the subcultures of working class whites in the UK, 2nd-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants, and the birth of hip-hop in New York City, demonstrating the personal and ideological threads that connected these apparently separate universes of music and culture,” said Sinnreich.

audience watching panel
There was a strong turnout for the research panel. 

Priya Doshi opened her Multicultural Strategic Communication class to the entire SOC community for a research spotlight featuring three SOC panelists; Jeffrey Madison, Director of Technology Services; Tambra Stevenson, PhD candidate and founder and CEO for WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture; and Dr. Sherri Williams, SOC associate professor. Doshi moderated the panel, "How SOC Research Fuels Inclusive Excellence," covered issues from underserved communities rising up to combat climate change on their own to health equity and how Williams partners with publications to give her students the opportunity to publish on national platforms by sharing their authentic experiences.

Students, faculty and staff chatting
SOC students, faculty and staff mingling at an after-hours reception.

There were also events to strengthen SOC’s community; Dean Sam Fulwood III hosted a morning coffee hour which allowed students, faculty and staff to talk with him and mingle with each other, and professor Gemma Puglisi and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) held an after hours meet-and-greet which included a game where students had to guess the identities of faculty members based on their own college graduation photos.  The Communication and Outreach office partnered with student photographers Dantong Lou, Damian Searchwell, and Mimi Tanchevski to hold multiple pop-up photo shoots where community members photographed and asked to share how they contribute to SOC’s inclusive excellence. The photos will be showcased in an exhibit in SOC’s McKinley Building and on the school’s website. The project was funded through an SOC RACE Matters grant.

Woman being photographed
Professor Priya Doshi was photographed by Damian Searchwell at a pop-up.