The following report contains an update to the Open Letter to Journalism Students & Alumni, published in July 2020, in response to calls to action issued by students and alumni and in relation to equity work underway at the University. The update, prepared by Director of the School of Journalism Tim Currie, on behalf of Faculty of the School of Journalism, outlines progress made during the 2020-21 academic year.
On June 15, 2020, students and alumni of the University of King’s College issued a call for the School of Journalism to develop an action plan for more diversity and inclusion in the School’s student population, curriculum, faculty makeup and support of students who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.
On July 6, 2020, the School published its Open Letter to Journalism Students & Alumni. This document was developed in response both to the calls to action and in relation to equity work underway at the University. It committed the School to a series of initiatives in the 2020-21 academic year, and beyond, and to report publicly on its progress in a year.
The following is the School’s report for 2020-21. (The content of the 2020 Open Letter is in black text. The School’s update on its response is outlined in blue.)
Concerning its curriculum the School will:
Concerning Faculty, the School will:
- Immediately resume the selection process for a new tenure-track hire in the School. That process, begun in December, was suspended at the interview stage in March due to disruptions related to the pandemic. A major goal of that hire is to further diversify the School’s faculty makeup.
In spring 2021, the School hired Prof. Brian Daly
, a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience in Canadian news media, including Canadian Press, CTV News Montreal, Québecor Media, and Global News Montreal. Prof. Daly is also Atlantic Director of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists and has been the driving force behind the launch of J-School Noire, a mentoring program supporting Black secondary school students interested in journalism. Prof. Daly’s position is a full-time, tenure-track one in the School. He will teach core reporting courses in all three programs this year, and the JOUR 3550 Copy Editing elective.
- Commit to hiring additional BIPOC journalists into tenure-track faculty positions in the future, in cooperation with the University.
The University awarded the Journalism School a second tenure-track faculty position in spring 2021 to further the institution’s diversity objectives. This position will be advertised and filled by the School in 2021-22.
- Immediately begin the process to fill the Rogers Communications Chair with a BIPOC instructor.
The School filled the Rogers Chair with the full-time hire of Prof. Trina Roache, an accomplished journalist who comes to King’s from a long career at APTN & CBC. As a (recent) part-time instructor at King’s, Prof. Roache was instrumental in the launch of JOUR 3676 Reporting in Mi’kma’ki and co-developed the syllabus for online delivery in 2021. She will teach core reporting courses in all three programs this year, with a focus on video.
- Commit to increasing the roster of BIPOC part-time instructors—especially those teaching core courses. (The School will have six BIPOC part-time instructors teaching eight courses in 2020-21.)
The School had seven faculty members of colour (of 17 total) teaching part–time in 2020-21. With the increase in full-time faculty in 2021-22, the School will have fewer part-time instructors, but aims for a comparable ratio.
- Initiate an annual program of anti-racism education for Journalism faculty. These sessions will be oriented to inclusive teaching strategies and unconscious bias training to prevent and respond to racism in the classroom.
In 2020-21, Journalism School Faculty participated in the following School-initiated sessions:
- “Moving the Dial: How journalism schools can be more equitable and inclusive,” a workshop sponsored by J-Schools Canada, and delivered by educators Shenaz Kermalli and Jennifer Leask (May 20, 2021)
- Anti-Racism Workshop for Journalism Faculty, led by King’s Equity Officer Tanisi Pooran (Nov. 5, 2020)
- Trauma Informed Listening Workshop for Journalism Faculty, led by Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer Jordan Roberts (Nov. 18, 2020)
- (Initially paused and soon to resume) Intercultural Development Inventory process through Dalhousie’s Centre for Learning and Teaching
- Many faculty members participated in Trauma-informed Journalism, a workshop led by educator Matthew Pearson and hosted by J-Schools Canada (May 31, 2021)
- Journalism School Director met with King’s Students’ Union representatives, along with other program directors, to discuss academic programs’ EDI efforts (March 18,2021)
- Provide information to better describe the resources at the University to students, including the role of the Equity Officer, the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Officer and related policies and procedures, including the code of conduct and grade appeals. Additionally, the School will provide information for filing a complaint or accessing support through the Equity Officer and the Policy & Procedures for the Prevention of Discrimination & Harassment. The School’s syllabi and handbooks will outline the pathways for students who have complaints about the learning environment, or concerns regarding racism and other forms of systemic oppression.
The Journalism School’s syllabus template was updated in August 2020 with a new, comprehensive section: “Fair, Inclusive and Safe Conduct.” This section includes a range of steps available for students to initiate a discussion or a process about their learning environment. These resources were supported with the University’s hiring, in July 2021, of Rhema Ferguson
to the full-time position of Equity Officer, previously a part-time position.
- Involve journalism students of colour in regular discussions with the Director about their experiences in the School.
This occurred informally with remote learning in 2020-21. More robust discussions are planned with the resumption of in-person learning in 2021-22.
- Work with the University administration in their outreach efforts toward implementing a stronger recruitment strategy for attracting BIPOC students to the study of journalism.
- The University announced the Sylvia D. Hamilton Awards, five new annual awards for Black students, in the name of the long-time journalism professor. Journalism and MFA students are given preference (October 2020).
- The University awarded the first Global News Journalism Award, an entrance award to a King’s journalism student who is African Canadian. This award, announced in February 2020, is renewable for four years (September 2020).
- The University and the Journalism School sponsored the session “Building Bridges” at the RISE Conference, hosted by the Canadian Association of Black Journalists and Canadian Journalists of Colour (May 1, 2021).
- J-School Director Tim Currie spoke at the 2021 J-School Noire event (February 14, 2021).
- Involve part-time instructors, esp. BIPOC ones, more fully in the life of the School.
Ongoing. With more active involvement planned for the resumption of in-person learning in 2021-22.
Among other initiatives, individual faculty members made efforts this year to involve more journalists of colour as guests and collaborators in the classroom. For example, Prof. Fred Vallance-Jones invited Clifford Paul into his research-focused courses JOUR 3004 and JOUR 5151/6151 to talk about researching and reporting in Mi’kmaw communities. Other faculty members involved guests in similar roles.
The School acknowledges strengthening diversity and inclusion within its faculty and curriculum requires ongoing work. It pledges to build on these efforts in 2021-22 and report them publicly.
Tim Currie, Director
On behalf of Faculty of the School of Journalism