Last year, Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University received the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Equity & Diversity Award. Following the win, David W. Brown, public relations & advertising professor, was appointed diversity advisor to the Office of the Dean. In an effort to make diversity and inclusion even more of a priority at Klein College, Brown is working with Temple's Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership (IDEAL) through a conversation series titled "Can We Really Talk."
Starting September 25, "Can We Really Talk" is a three-part monthly series of talks focused on strengthening awareness about diversity and inclusion among instructors across disciplines. Brown will serve as the series' first facilitator with "Teaching About Bias Through the Lens of Media." He believes examining the ways in which media may contribute to bias is one of the ways instructors across the university can be more cognizant of their students' experiences inside and outside the classroom. The "safe space" also provides room for instructors to discuss any misconceptions or concerns they may personally have.
"Part of what we hope to be able to do in these sessions is to give some good dialogue so we can really lay some things on the table about how we really feel. No judgment," he says. "Hopefully we can equip each other, so it's not just [the conversation facilitators] saying 'These are the tools you need to have.'"
The other conversation facilitators are Valerie Dudley, director of multicultural education & training at IDEAL, and Simuelle Myers, assistant director of CAT.
Brown feels as though his experience as a professor has informed the way he approaches his own identity with his students.
"Even though we consider ourselves a diverse university, I've had many students who say to me that I'm the first African American professor that they've ever had in their life. That just blows my mind and it's disheartening but it also kind of shows the burden of responsibility," he says. "There's a responsibility to hopefully broaden someone's viewpoint and hopefully help them to come out of that type of encounter more knowledgeable than they were before."
Though Brown says the AEJMC award and "Can We Really Talk" are great starting points, he believes Temple and Klein College still have a long way to go.
"Even though we got this award, it just means we're more diverse than the next person. But that doesn't necessarily mean the next person is diverse," he says. "So part of what we started talking and thinking about was how to really build in an infrastructure around diversity, equity and inclusion."