Diversity in Edelman CCCA: The Fall Research Showcase and how it relates to DEI

Diversity in Edelman CCCA: The Fall Research Showcase and how it relates to DEI

Diversity in Edelman CCCA: The Fall Research Showcase and how it relates to DEI

Dean Tweedie at the Fall Research Showcase
Image Credit: Alex Rossen


Last semester CCCA held the inaugural Fall Research Showcase, an event in which faculty and students alike came together to present their research and other projects that they have been working on throughout the semester. The Showcase highlighted the research of CCCA students and faculty in-person for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Celine Hong, the Dean’s Fellow for Research Initiatives and a professor in the Public Relations and Advertising department, was the director for the Showcase. She described it as, “an event that supports a research-friendly environment and promotes activity among the students and faculty.” Unsurprisingly, the heart of the Fall Research Showcase was just that—research! With about 130 participants and 100-plus attendees, it was definitely successful in promoting research across the College. A wealth of projects were presented from several departments, leading to a varied and engaging display. Among these were several projects that dealt closely with issues of DEI within communications studies and the arts. 

Dr. Celeste Del Russo, the current director of the Rowan Writing Center, presented a project entitled, “Can’t we just stick to the writing?’:  Empathy Narratives for Social Justice Tutor Training". She was inspired by a conversation she had with tutors during a professional development session one week, in which they tackled the topic of difficult situations when tutoring a student that may be expressing harmful beliefs or using discriminatory language in their writing. 

Dr. Del Russo expressed in her research the importance of going beyond just student writing when working in a tutoring session. “For so many of us who come to writing center work, it’s always been about more than, ‘just the writing.’ It is connecting with students, providing safe learning spaces, listening, valuing identities, and sharing compassion.” 

Throughout the research, she explored methods for training tutors on how to effectively achieve these goals in the framework of a single tutoring session, and how tutors utilize these tools to ensure empathy is at the forefront of their student collaboration. 

This wasn’t the only DEI project to come from the Writing Arts Department. Dr. Deb Martin’s project, “Unapologetically Queer: Interviews with 12 Lesbian Public School Teachers” documents qualitative research taken from interviews with lesbian teachers at public high schools across the country. This was inspired by her own background in teaching at public schools. Dr. Martin had spent 12 years teaching in the public school system in Texas, her home state. During this time, she experienced the unique challenges of being a teacher while publicly a lesbian, and decided to return to her roots for this project. Her goal was to see how things have changed for queer teachers, and what that means for the functioning of public schools as a whole. 

“When I shared the findings with the participants,” Dr. Martin said, “many were surprised at how similar their experiences were…that suggests to me that we, queer teachers, need to talk to each other.”  

Overall, Dr. Martin was disappointed to learn that, while conditions are significantly better than they were when she was teaching in public schools about three decades ago, there is still work to be done. “It’s not over yet,” she said. “When teachers are able to be queer and supported, that creates hope for students who are trying to be who they are.”

A commonality amongst the participants of the Showcase, as well as director Dr. Hong, was the value they saw in being able to communicate with colleagues from other departments in the College. CCCA is a large college with multiple departments, many of which do not experience much overlap between students or faculty. Dr. Hong explained this as one of her main reasons for pushing the Fall Research Showcase: “In terms of academic conferences, every department and each type of academia has their own types of conferences…and they have totally different sites, venues, and purposes. So, I never really get a chance to understand what other faculty members are doing.”

This was echoed by the participants of the Showcase. When asked what the highlight of the was for them, they all responded similarly, each of their responses boiling down to “collaboration”. Faculty and students alike appreciated the opportunity to speak with other departments, and see the work that was being done across the College. 

“It makes me want to find ways to collaborate across our departments!” 

Dr. Hong expressed this as her main goal: “I think the most important part of the Research Showcase is to introduce ourselves to the CCCA community itself and have an ability to collaborate in the future and to showcase and increase the capacity of the students.”

Similarly, Dr. Del Russo enthused, “For me, the highlights were visiting table after table to learn about how CCCA faculty and students are working together on research projects. It makes me want to find ways to collaborate across our departments!” 

“I’m hoping that the Research Showcase can provide a stepping stone for the faculty and students to grow... and an opportunity for future cooperation,” Dr. Hong said, in closing. The success of and enthusiasm surrounding the Showcase provided a promising glimpse into future events of this kind and demonstrates the passion for research (both DEI-based and otherwise) within the College. 

For more information on our department programs, organizations, or events, please visit the Edelman CCCA website or the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Blog homepage. If you have a suggestion or a story idea for our blog, send us an email at ccca@rowan.edu.