Lee Bush, Vanessa Bravo publish paper on DEI in strategic communications

With support from an Elon Diversity & Inclusion Grant, the two School of Communications faculty members researched, developed, and tested diversity, equity, and inclusion teaching modules in four core Strategic Communications Department courses.

Strategic communications faculty members Lee Bush and Vanessa Bravo published a paper in a special issue on “Leadership, Mentorship, and DEI in the Post-Pandemic Public Relations Classroom” in the Journal of Public Relations Education. The paper, titled “Systematically Applying DEI Accreditation Standards to a Strategic Communications Curriculum,” was published in February.

Lee Bush (left) and Vanessa Bravo

The pilot study the paper outlines began in 2021, when Bush and Bravo received an Elon Diversity & Inclusion Grant to research, develop, and test diversity, equity, and inclusion teaching modules in four core Strategic Communications Department courses. The purpose of the modules was to fulfill DEI learning objectives created to meet new diversity standards from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), the body that accredits Elon’s School of Communications. Modules included foundational readings, instructor lesson plans and presentations, videos, in-class activities, and content reference lists.

The paper outlines the content of the modules and details how the two professors assessed the modules in several strategic communications courses throughout fall 2021 and spring 2022. The modules and assessments were then shared with Strategic Communications Department faculty to be applied to their own courses. As stated in the paper, the project “created shared language and norms for faculty teaching DEI across the curriculum, provided tested content that resonated with students, and supplied faculty with needed resources and applications they could then customize to fit their own class projects and teaching styles.”

“DEI has become an integral part of both academic accrediting standards and professional requirements for entry-level professionals,” Bush said. “This study has helped us apply these requirements in a systematic way across the curriculum, and we hope it will be a model for other universities to do the same.”

The Journal of Public Relations Education is the principal publication of the PR Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), and is dedicated to research and commentary that advances the field.