#RSA2020 Seminar: "Recruiting and Retaining Graduate Students of Color in Rhetoric"

"Recruiting and Retaining Graduate Students of Color in Rhetoric"

Friday, May 22; 9 am to Noon

Participants: Faculty only

The objective of this seminar is simple: to provide answers to the question, “how do you recruit and retain graduate students of color in the rhetorical studies?” Although the field of rhetoric in both English and Communication has grown more diverse, that change has been slow going. Furthermore, the vast majority of PhD-granting departments in our field are comprised almost entirely of white faculty. A look at curriculum in those PhD-granting departments reveals that the study of race is given cursory attention at best in most classes, and few departments include more than a single course devoted entirely to the study of race. Despite these obstacles, most departments insist they seek a more diverse student body and would like to work in a more diverse discipline. Most faculty are earnest about wanting to support students of color. Yet, anecdotal evidence from people of color “whisper networks” suggests to us that many students of color in rhetoric do not feel supported, do not see themselves reflected in the curriculum, and do not see a viable future in the discipline.

This seminar draws from the experience of three faculty who work closely with students of color at their own institutions and across the discipline. The organizers invite faculty with a range of experience on these issues but a desire to do better. The seminar will include a conversation about a set of readings, time to share best and worst practices, and will culminate in the crafting of a collective position statement that can provide guidance to all graduate programs in rhetoric.

Interested participants should submit a 300-500-word position paper that details their interest in the seminar, key questions or concerns they have about supporting students of color, and outcomes they’d like to come away with at the end of the seminar.

Proposals will be accepted until February 1, 2020. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by March 1, 2020.

Sample readings: