The College of Communication and Information Sciences continued its legacy of celebrating diversity with the eighth annual Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium held at Gorgas Library on Monday, March 27.
The symposium, which has served as a launching pad for further exploration of ways to integrate diversity education and intercultural communication into the College’s curriculum, has drawn national attention to C&IS diversity initiatives. In 2015, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) recognized C&IS with its annual Equity and Diversity Award and cited the Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium as one of the College’s stand out features.
“The Diversity Symposium offers an opportunity for C&IS faculty and students to learn from each other and about diversity in its various iterations,” said Dr. Robin Boylorn, associate professor of communication studies and panel presenter for the event. “[It] gives us a chance to talk through and think through the dynamic ways we engage difference in our scholarship, and it challenges us to do more. It provides a space for dissemination, collaboration, networking, receiving feedback, and being challenged.”
Boylorn, whose recently released book, “The Crunk Feminist Collection,” has been warmly received by feminist scholars and literary critics alike, presented her work on the representation of black masculinity in hip hop films during the symposium’s “Diversity in Media” panel session. Fernando Morales, a UA graduate student in communication studies, and Dr. Sally Paulson, assistant professor in the Department of Language and Literature at Delta State University, also presented their work as part of the panel.
Morales, whose research focuses on the possibilities and tensions that surface when marginalized groups adapt, re-imagine, or enter stories marked as “classic” or “American,” discussed his autoethnographic piece on the struggles of Latino actors in an industry that often stereotypes People of Color in making casting decisions.
In addition to panel presentations on the role of diversity in the media, educational and organizational settings, students across the spectrum of C&IS departments and majors presented research during the morning’s poster session.
Caitlin Dyche, a graduate student in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media, presented her research on the incorporation of emoji into the modern vernacular and its influence on computer-mediated communication.
“While emoji have become universally available, this does not mean that their usage and connotative meanings are also universal,” Dyche wrote in the paper’s abstract. “In fact, the motivation for emoji use is still hotly debated.”
Beyond examining how and why emoji are being used in countries around the world, Dyche also discussed which emoji are being used most often in synchronous computer mediated communication and whether such usage patterns relate significantly to culture.
“It was really great to see some of the research that is being done on diversity both within and across cultures,” Dyche said. “The poster presentations themselves were diverse in their topics and the panel on diversity in film and media was pretty incredible as it looked at how different groups of people are being portrayed from both sides of the silver screen, as well as shows that portray the importance and power of inclusivity and diversity.”
The event culminated with a keynote address by Dr. Clara Chu, director of the Mortensen Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Chu discussed paradigm shifts in research related to diversity.