Videos and info: 2020-2021 Theme Year "Pursuing Racial Justice at Iowa"

"Pursuing Racial Justice at the University of Iowa" was a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences "theme year" initiative for 2020-21. Through cross-disciplinary lenses, CLAS faculty, students, and staff—often in collaboration with other UI colleges and units, and outside experts—grappled with critical questions about race and justice. We invited the community to consider how the UI's history as a predominantly white institution has shaped the university and CLAS; the knowledge we produce and convey to students; the interactions among our community members; and the relationship of the university to Iowa City and the state of Iowa.

April 20: Iowa and Hollywood’s “Heartland”—The Imagined Publics and Politics of “Flyover” Country

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A lecture by Professor Victoria Johnson of UC-Irvine, author of the books Heartland TV: Prime Time Television and the Struggle for U.S. Identity and the brand-new Sports TV.

Professor Al Martin of the Departments of Communication Studies and African American Studies will serve as a respondent to Professor Johnson's talk.

April 15: The Black Social Media Dilemma: The Paradoxes of Black Digital Life

No video. Contact professor Meenakshee Gigi Durham for information.

Dr. S. Craig Watkins, Ernest Sharpe Centennial Professor, Moody College of Communication at University of Texas at Austin delivers the 2021 M. Holly McGranahan Lecture for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  

The pace of change in the world of media and technology is truly unprecedented. Nowhere has that change been more evident than in the adoption and deployment of technology by African Americans.From the routine and inventive adoption of social media to the savvy use of digital platforms to challenge systemic racism, Black digital life is growing increasingly more complex. In this talk, Dr. Watkins explores some of the complications of Black digital life, that is, the tensions associated with living in a world that is "open and connected."

April 13: Media Work, Social Justice, and Iowa: An alumni panel

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Join this panel of University of Iowa alumni working in media as they discuss the state of diversity in their industry, the experience of working as a person of color in their industry, and whether and how well we at the UI prepared them for their careers in these industries. the event will feature a Q&A session with student moderators TBA. 

Ryan Ford (2000 BA Journalism and Mass Communication)—President, Chief Creative Officer, Cashmere Agency

Dana Roberson (1987 BA Journalism and Mass Communication)—Executive Producer, WNET PBS NewsHour Weekend

Isaiah Scales (2004 BA Journalism and Mass Communication)—Creative Services Manager, Walt Disney Television

Risa Tanania (2000 BA English; 2002 MA Art)—Co-founder, The House that Casting Built

Q&A with student moderators Tessa Adams and Nichole Shaw (BA 2021)

March 20: Can We Talk?

No video.

Discussion Panel 1:

  • Moderator: Kendall Moore, filmmaker and Professor of Journalism and Film Media, Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode island
  • Vernon Morris—Director and Professor, School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University
  • Brandon Jones—Program Director, Geosciences, National Science Foundation
  • Aradhna Tripati—Associate Professor and Director, Center for Diverse Leadership in Science, Institute of the Environment & Sustainability, UCLA
  • Catalina Martinez—Physical Scientist and Educator, Office of Exploration and Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Wendy Smythe—Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies and Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Discussion Panel 2: Race and STEM at Iowa

  • Moderator: Darryl Heller—Director, Civil Rights Heritage Center, Indiana University South Bend
  • Armando Bryson—Undergraduate Student
  • Nelson A. Colón (2016 PhD Mathematics)—AI & Cybersecurity Strategist, Presidential Innovation Fellow, US Department of Transportation
  • Jorge Moreno (2018 BS Biology)—Doctoral Candidate, Princeton University
  • Leo Rodriguez (2011 PhD Physics)—Assistant Professor, Grinnell College
  • Lagi Tausaga-Collins—Undergraduate Student
  • Antonio Woodard—(2019 BA Criminology, Law, and Justice) MSW Candidate, School of Social Work

Watch the "Can We Talk?" trailer.

March 19: Using an Ecological-Belonging Intervention to Foster Equity in College STEM Courses

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A lecture by Professor Kevin Binning (Department of Psychology; Learning Research and Development Center—University of Pittsburgh)

When intellectual stereotypes are “in the air,” they can interfere with students’ learning and performance. In this talk, Dr. Binning reported the results of a series of experiments designed to establish social norms that make stereotypes irrelevant in college STEM classrooms.

March 16: The History of Science from a Physicist's Perspective

No video

A colloquium talk by Dr. Vincent Rodgers, professor of physics and astronomy.

History, science, the arts, and literature are often compartmentalized in the academy in order to organize the vast amount of information that human thinking has accrued. In this talk, we will explore a few aspects of how science drastically influenced society and in particular civil rights. We will discuss the importance of entangling science back into the history not simply as "history of Science" but as human history.

February 18: The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: A Panel Discussion on Creating More Inclusive Writing Programs

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  • Felicia Rose Chavez, NWP alumna and author
  • Matthew Kelley, Provost Visiting Writer, Department of English and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop
  • Mickey Hill, Provost Visiting Writer, Department of English and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop
  • Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, Professor and CLAS Administrative Fellow, Office of the Dean.
  • Moderator: Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Director, UI Nonfiction Writing Program.

February 3: Barriers to Health Equity in Iowa City: Centering Diverse Community Voices

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  • Patrick Taggart—Regional Director, Proteus
  • Adrian Silva—Spanish Medical Interpreter, University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics
  • Joseph Lear—Pastor, Resurrection Church
  • Marius Ibuye Balola—Board Member, Congolese Health Partnership
  • Discussant: Rima Afifi—Professor, College of Public Health
  • Moderator: Valerie Garr—Diversity Coordinator, College of Nursing

November 11: UI Athletics and Race

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Moderator: Broderick Binns

  • Quinn Early
  • Alexis Sevillian
  • Dr. Louis Moore

October 16: Race and Policing in America

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Host: Mark Berg, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, University of Iowa


  • Simon Balto: Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, University of Iowa: "History Supports Abolishing the Police"
  • Jennifer Cobbina, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University: "Taking Power from the Police and Giving it to Communities"
  • Rashawn Ray, Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland: "What is 'Defund the Police' and Does it Have Merit?"

Q&A Moderator: Anthony Haughton (BA 2021)

September 23: Racial and Social Justice Movements in Iowa: Past and Present

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Readings and Resources lists

  • Moderator: John McKerley
  • Dwain Coleman and Heather Cooper: "The Colored Conventions and Black Political Activism in Nineteenth Century Iowa"
  • Janet Weaver: “When Cesar Chavez Came to Davenport”
  • Nick Salazar and Erik Henderson: “Present Day Activism”
  • Jen Sherer: "Why the Labor Movement Still Matters: Workers' Rights and Social Justice in Iowa Today" 

September 17: UI, Racial Justice, and Political Activism

Presenters' list of Readings and Resources

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