Four SIS students were recently published in The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, all of whom wrote their papers as part of a classroom assignment under Professor Bharat Mehra, in his Diversity Leadership in Information Organizations class.
Mehra, who is also the Emerging Voices Editor for the journal, said all four students had done exceptional work on their projects and papers.
“As an instructor, it was truly inspiring to nurture student passion and enthusiasm towards social justice concerns and mobilize diversity and inclusion while proposing progressive changes in their information organizations and communities,” Mehra said.
Here is an excerpt from the editorial he wrote in the issue of the journal that contained the students’ work, explaining each student’s article:
- Laura E. Smith’s article "Diversity and Inclusion at East Tennessee State University’s Archives of Appalachia” holistically applies the SDM through a top-down approach in order to understand diversity and inclusion that impact the archives at both university and departmental levels; the article focuses on local/regional communities and LGBTQ communities.
- The next contribution, entitled “An Exploratory Case Study of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Inclusion at a Metropolitan Library in the Southeastern U.S.” by Liz Movius, is eye-opening in its analysis of information challenges experienced by this marginalized population; it discusses six action steps to foster inclusion for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in an anonymized public library.
- Joseph Winberry’s article “Shades of Silver: Applying the Strategic Diversity Manifesto to Tennessee’s Knox County Office on Aging” creatively implements the SDM in a case study of a non-traditional aging service that meets the needs of the fast-growing population of older adults; it examines how this organization can extend its information outreach to include more diverse communities of seniors.
- The last but not least is Olivia G. Forehand’s timely piece entitled “Efforts to Overcome Homelessness in the Pruitt Branch of the Nashville Public Library,” which discusses how a small branch of a large public library addresses homelessness in its rural community and how it can improve its services to the homeless people.
Mehra was not the only one enthused by the projects – the student themselves have expressed just how much it meant to be involved in a project that promoted diversity, and to be published.
“I always felt like publishing an article was such a lofty goal, something that I'd never be able to achieve. But it feels great to have done it and doing so again in the future feels more manageable!” said Movius, who graduated earlier this year.
The projects and papers were a lot of work, but were not unexpected as Mehra had given students a heads up about the assignment and the paper.
“I had some warning of what I would be doing,” said Forehand. “When I was officially accepted I was a little apprehensive about the amount of work that goes into getting the article journal-ready, but definitely excited about the opportunity. And now that it's finished, I feel great!”
In his editorial, Mehra pointed out that classroom assignments have merit in addressing real-life diversity questions, and can contribute to actual practice. Winberry, who works at the same organization that he used for his project, Tennessee’s Knox County Office on Aging, said that he found the experience encouraging.
“My biggest takeaway from this project has been how many stakeholders throughout the research process – in the community and at the journal – recognize the importance of diversity and want to do their part in making society more inclusive of underrepresented older adults and people in general,” Winberry said.