Skip to main content Skip to navigation
CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Program integrates community service into coursework

Hundreds of students on several Washington State University campuses will participate in community service projects as part of their English classes this year.

For his English 101 classes, WSU Pullman Teaching Assistant Professor David Martin wanted the service-learning component to be research focused; however, he did not have a clear idea of what types of projects would work in his curriculum.

“I was able to learn what other faculty in CES (Community Engaged Scholars) were doing and I found that to be very useful,” Martin said. “It got my mind and wheels turning on some possibilities for my classes.”

This semester, his students are working with community partners in the Palouse region to identify local challenges such as food and housing insecurity, abandoned pets, and stream erosion. They will create a problem statement, write a literature review, and pitch ideas for how those challenges can be resolved.

Students in Linda Russo’s English 302 class will work with the Palouse Conservation District to restore areas along the Palouse River. She said CES inspired her to explore what literary studies can look like when students literally get their hands dirty.

Vanessa Cozza and Johanna Phelps, English professors on the Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses, respectively, said students in their technical and professional writing classes are working with multiple community partners to create promotional materials such as instruction manuals, brochures, logos, and website designs.

Vanessa Cozza.
Linda Russo.
Johanna Phelps.

One of the greatest benefits of participating in CES, according to Martin, Phelps, Russo, and Cozza, was the opportunity to meet other faculty interested in service-learning. Many have stayed in touch with each other since the program concluded.

Find out more

WSU Insider

New official holiday commemorates end of slavery

Juneteenth becomes an official state holiday in 2022, providing symbolically important recognition of a pivotal moment in the nation’s promise of racial equality and serving as a necessary reminder of the continuing work still ahead.

Lisa Guerrero.

Like many holidays in the United States, Juneteenth is a celebration that belies historical nuance, said Lisa Guerrero, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and professor of comparative ethnic studies.

“Juneteenth represents a flawed but symbolically important moment when the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation was completed,” Guerrero said.

“With its responsibilities as a land grant institution, WSU must ask how it can make symbolic historical moments teachable and carry us forward,” Guerrero said. “We have to look at how we can increase enrollment of students from marginalized communities, how we can increase hiring of faculty from marginalized communities and how we can think about different research projects and which communities they are serving and impacting.”

Find out more

WSU Insider

David Leonard on “playing while white”: intersection of race and athletics in America

David Leonard

Dr. David Leonard, an author and associate professor in comparative ethnic studies at Washington State University, spoke about the intersection of race and narratives about athletes Monday, March 26. This is a topic which he wrote about in his most recent book, “Playing While White: Privilege and Power On and Off the Field.” This event was a part of the Sawyer Seminar Series, sponsored by the Penn State African American Studies department.

Leonard began the talk by explaining how he came to write “Playing While White,” which he said he “really started in 2012.” He said that he had been a writer for online publications, and noticed that he had written articles in three main fields: The intersection of whiteness and mass shootings, police shootings, and the Black Lives Matter movement, specifically, “black bodies being criminalized.” Considering this narrative combined with athletics led him to ask, “what sort of profiling is happening in our sports world?”

One central concept Leonard talked about is how white athletes are “routinely forgiven,” or “being afforded the opportunity of second, third and fourth chances.” White athletes, he said, are imagined as the underdog, and that translates to terms used to describe them, such as “grit, hard work, determination, perseverance.” He said that this profiling also, by extension, comments on blackness at the same time. “Playing while white means being described as the leader, being described as intelligent,” Leonard said, and that these aforementioned types of positive framing are not used to describe black athletes.

Find out more

The Underground

New book claims video games ‘perpetuate injustice’

David Leonard
David Leonard

Two professors are warning in a forthcoming anthology that video games and gaming culture “perpetuate injustice” and hurt “marginalized bodies.”

“Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Justice” is edited by Kishonna Gray, a professor at Arizona State University, and David J. Leonard, who teaches classes on social justice and black studies at Washington State University.

“From #GamerGate to the 2016 election, to the daily experiences of marginalized perspectives, the ways gaming is entangled with mainstream cultures of systematic exploitation and oppression is clear,” Gray and Leonard write in the book description.

“Video games perpetuate injustice and [mirror] those inequities and violence that permeate society,” they continue, explaining that “video games encode the injustices that pervade society as a whole.”

However, while the book is premised on the contention that video games reinforce racism and sexism, it ultimately seeks to shed light on gamers’ strategies for breaking this paradigm.

Find out more

Campus Reform

Winter Olympics won’t be #OlympicsSoWhite

More than 40 black athletes are competing at the Winter Olympics.

David Leonard
David Leonard

“It demonstrates that there is progress being made through the hard work perseverance and talents of athletes of colour who are making the US Winter Olympic team look like the United States, and that’s something we should celebrate,” said David Leonard, a professor in the Washington State University Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies.

But Leonard and others say the diversity issue is far from settled. Some winter sports, notably biathlon and speedskating, fell short of the United States Olympic Committee leadership’s 2016 diversity and inclusion scorecard benchmarks for athletes of color on U.S. national teams, the most recent data available.

The diversity goals are different for each sport and include criteria such as financial resources, staff size, and a particular sport’s NCAA pipeline.

“The fact that there’s still work to be done demonstrates that issues surrounding access, surrounding inequalities, persist,” Leonard said.

Find out more