As part of my sabbatical, I was delighted to spend some time in September 2019 at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to work on my book project on "Power of Numbers" with my brilliant and wonderful co-author, Dr. Erica Scharrer. Many thanks to Erica for her warm hospitality. Every aspect of the visit was planned with great care and attention to detail.
Due to flight delays, I was "stuck" in gorgeous Amherst for an additional day. I wasn't complaining at all since it was such a beautiful early Fall day and some of the trees were just beginning to change colors from green to light orange. It also turned out to be a blessing since I got to participate in the Global Climate Strike protests in downtown Northampton, which was a moving experience.
Dr. Scharrer not only took me on a campus tour but introduced me to many outstanding colleagues. I was especially grateful to get to spend time with Dr. Linda Tropp, whose work has shaped my research on intergroup contact and prejudice reduction. I also enjoyed dinner with several colleagues in the Department of Communication including Dr. Mari Castaneda, who is doing amazing community-engaged communication projects in the area, which I was delighted to learn about.
My talk at UMass-Amherst was on "Blurring Boundaries, Balancing Tensions: Meanings, Practices, Risks, Challenges, and Opportunities for Communication Scholar-Activists. I am grateful to all the amazing comm scholar-activists whose work we are showcasing in this project. And to Dr. Alex Sousa, my former student and currently Assistant Professor of Communication at Indiana University Southeast) for her superb assistance as co-author/collaborator on this project.
While in Massachusetts, I also gave a talk on "Difficult Dialogues, Anti-Racism Pedagogy, and Inclusive Communication" Emerson College in Boston. Dr Azeta Hatef, Assistant Professor at Emerson has written an article on my visit here:
In this article she says: "Dr. Ramasubramanian’s efforts to combat campus racism and microaggressions through the construction of safe and inclusive spaces fostered thought and dialogue amongst some Media Design students, who are equally as concerned about the construction and maintenance of diverse and inclusive environments as they enter new and familiar communities to craft their thesis projects. Rakshya Devkota, who served as an Americorps Volunteer at City Year before beginning the program this fall, partook in exercises with a similar structure to the Difficult Dialogues program and liked the idea of designing spaces differently based on the audience that is being engaged."
Many thanks to Dr. Paul Mihailidis, Co-Founder of the Engagement Lab, professor at Emerson College, and one of the world's leading expert on critical media literacy, for inviting me to do this talk and for his warm hospitality. I enjoyed lunch with several Engagement Lab colleagues, the Dean of Emerson College, and with media literacy activists from the Media Literacy Now organization in Boston.