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At our April 2013 meeting, the board of directors approved the BEA Statement on Diversity, which codifies the organization’s “leadership responsibility to provide equal access and opportunity by fostering academic excellence, diversity, and inclusion among students, faculty, and media professionals.”  In order to facilitate this mission, the board also created the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

This board appointed standing committee is responsible for “recommending and seeking ways to promote diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion for all persons within our membership, leadership and activities regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, country of origin, political affiliation, field of research, socioeconomic status, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Duties of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee include:

  • Suggest diversity and inclusion programming/speakers/activities for the annual convention.
  • Identify opportunities to engage new partners and sponsors to support the work of the committee.
  • Develop ideas and methods to promote scholarly and creative work related to diversity and inclusion.

To those ends, the committee under the leadership of past chairs—Mary Schaffer, California State University, Northridge; and Jen Meadows, California State University, Chico—and current chair—Kim Zarkin, Westminster College-Salt Lake City—have engaged in several new initiatives. This year will mark the third year for the BEA Diversity & Inclusion Research Award. The award recognizes a research paper that contributes to the academic knowledge in the field of diversity in media content, the media professions, or the teaching of diversity topics or to diverse populations. The 2017 award was presented to Leigh Moscowitz, University of South Carolina; Andrew C. Billings, University of Alabama; Khadija Ejaz, University of South Carolina & Jane O’Boyle, University of South Carolina for The Final Hurdle in Team Sports?: Framing Jason Collins’s and Michael Sam’s Coming Out Stories in Broadcast and Online.

For 2018, the committee has increased awards recognizing diversity and inclusion by establishing the Diversity & Inclusion Creative Award. This award recognizes creative work that diversifies media content by telling stories that often don’t find a place in the media universe. The D&I Committee will select this award based on winning entries to the Festival of Media Arts. Both the creative and research awards will be presented in Las Vegas at the annual conference.

The board is grateful to the Diversity & Inclusion committee for their work to “champion diversity, educational equality and the preparation of individuals who can live and work effectively in a multicultural and interdisciplinary world” within BEA. I encourage you to read the entire Diversity Statement (here) and learn more about the committee and its activities and awards (here). Also, if you’re a junior faculty member with interest in joining the committee, please contact Kim Zarkin