Social Justice Theme Events

During the 2021-22 academic year, the College of Media will explore a social justice theme to build community and connections for students, faculty, and staff. The idea for an annual, opt-in theme emerged during the College of Media strategic planning process, and selection of an inaugural theme was voted on by faculty and staff in Spring 2021. Learn more.

Spring 2022 Events

Rethinking the Student Experience for Inclusion Workshop

Friday, February 11, 2-3 p.m.
Zoom presentation (link to come) by John D. Blackshire, PhD (he/him/his)  
Collaboration with Dean’s Fellow on Diversity and Inclusion and ICR

This will be an interactive workshop open to faculty and staff interested in exploring their own practices of teaching, mentoring, advising, and how to place inclusion at the center of those practices. We will complete 2-3 discussions and activities to help your group dive into topics focused on inclusion and the student experience. Potential topics might include: 

  • Constructing a Syllabus  
  • The Academic Advisor’s Role in Fostering Inclusion 
  • Intersectional Grading: What Is It and How to Do It 
  • The Rocky Relationship: Expectations of Faculty and Staff Versus What They Can Do 

BlackshireAbout the speaker:
John Blackshire, Ph.D., is an educator, consultant, and creator. He splits his time between consulting with Blackshire Strategies, LLC. He helps businesses, non-profits, universities, and individuals with their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging needs. Additionally, he is an ACLS Leading Edge Fellow with PRX, INC, where he produces the podcast Culturati and helps the organization rethink the impact of its content. John is an assistant professor of gender studies at Skidmore College (on leave). He received his doctorate from the Women and Gender Studies program in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University in 2020. He completed his BA in Cinema and Photography at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale in 2014.


Discussion on the Power of Student Collaboration for Engaging with Community Media

Friday, February 25, 12 p.m.
Gregory Hall Room 31
Undergraduate event (open to all) with the James Scholars
Collaboration with Megan Zwilling, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Honors, and the Illinois Community Media Project


  1. Zulema Herrera, Journalism and Latino/a Studies majors, senior 
  2. Nena Rohaidzam, New Media major and minor in Critical Film Production, senior
  3. Frank Andujar, Mechanical Engineering program, 2nd-year graduate student

The speakers will discuss their continuous project with the Immigration Services at Champaign-Urbana (ISCU), which started in summer 2021. Brought together from the WeCU volunteer program and in collaboration with the Illinois Community Media Project, they utilized their diverse skills to reach out to this community and create a video showcasing the efforts of this service organization. Included with this discussion, they will share their unique experiences at the University and any advice/tips they have for current students. Through their experiences, they will also express the capabilities that media production work can provide for anyone interested in getting involved and the value of localized media.

Food will be served at this event, if you plan on attending, please RSVP:
RSVPs are encouraged, but not required; please feel welcome to attend.


Rebel Vision: Decolonizing Photojournalism

Tuesday, March 1, 7 p.m.
Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum
MillerComm lecture by Dr. Tara Pixley, Loyola Marymount University
Hosted by the Department of Journalism 

In this lecture, Dr. Pixley, a visual journalist and professor of journalism based in Los Angeles, will discuss how contemporary photojournalism practices have inscribed imperialist, anti-Black, whitewashed world views into news photography at both individual and institutional levels. She will analyze those practices and unpack the activist ethos and professional concerns that launched a variety of initiatives and interventions such as Women Photograph, Everyday Projects, and Diversify Photo—all of which have used the digital realm to produce what she claims is a “rebel vision” of marginalized communities. She will advance her hypothesis that as we aim to articulate the relationship between contemporary media and contemporary society, a holistic approach is imperative to understanding media cultures and their intersections with representations of race, gender, and other identity formations.


Land, Climate Change, and the Media

Monday, March 28, through Tuesday, March 29
Collaboration with the Illinois Community Media Project

March 28
6-8 p.m.
Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum
Screening of Shawnee Showdown: Keep the Forest Standing
Directed by Cade Bursell, Professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Filmmaker Cade Bursell and several local environmental activists from the documentary will be present for a post-screening discussion about the State of Illinois and the environment. In the context of climate change, what happens to land?  

During the late 1980s and the 1990s, a small, dedicated group of activists fought on the ground and in the courts to stop clear-cutting, oil and gas drilling, and ATV use in the Shawnee National Forest located in Southern Illinois. They won the support of their community and the struggle in a landmark court case. Seventeen years later, the court lifted the injunction, and the Forest Service resumed logging. This film portrays the struggle to protect the forest through interviews, photographs, and news footage. It examines the ways the past struggle can serve to inform the public and activists today in responding to current Forest Service management projects.  


March 29
9:30-10:50 a.m.
1050 Siebel Center for Design
“Creating the Future We Want to Live in with Media” lecture and discussion


Cisinformed: The Spread of Misinformation about Transgender People and Why it Matters

Friday, April 15, 2-4 p.m.
319 Gregory Hall
Keynote Speaker TJ Billard 
Collaboration with ICR

TJ Billard, PhD, is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at Northwestern University, where they are affiliated with the Center for Communication & Public Policy and the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. Outside of Northwestern, they are the founding executive director of the Center for Applied Transgender Studies in Chicago—the leading academic organization dedicated to scholarship on the social, cultural, and political conditions of transgender life—and editor of the Center’s flagship journal, the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies. Dr. Billard’s research spans political communication, the sociology of social movements, and transgender studies, with a primary focus on the relationship between media and the U.S. transgender rights movement. Their current major projects include a solo monograph on changing practices of media-focused activism in the transgender rights movement and an edited volume (co-edited with Professor Silvio Waisbord of the George Washington University) on public scholarship in communication studies.


Reel Midwest Film Festival Series
Screening of '63 Boycott

Tuesday, April 19, 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Spurlock Museum 
Collaboration with Illinois Public Media, Illinois Community Media Project, and Spurlock Museum

Join us for a screening followed by a discussion of and around ’63 Boycott from Kartemquin Films. This film tells the story of 250,000 Chicagoans who fought for racial equity in schools and how the struggle continues. Unseen 16mm footage of the boycott is combined with insights from the original participants and present-day protesters against school closings. 

Watch the trailer for ’63 Boycott:

After screening the film, there will be a Q&A with filmmakers Gordon Quinn and Rachel Dickson; Adrienne Dixson, Professor & Coordinator, Social Science and Education Policy at the University of Illinois, and a Unit 4 activist challenging the status quo in Champaign Public Schools. 

Reel Midwest—Illinois Public Media’s independent film series that endeavors to find and showcase the best feature, documentary, and short films from Illinois and across the Midwest—is taking on a new form. The Reel Midwest Film Festival series will focus on bringing these powerful films out into the community to provide a space to examine the role of independent film and its connection to movements for social justice.

This screening event is a collaboration between Illinois Public Media, the Department of Media & Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Illinois Community Media Project, and Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. 


Sewn In Memory: AIDS Quilt Panels from Central Illinois

On display now through July 10
Spurlock Museum 

"Sewn in Memory" is a new exhibit at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures and features over a dozen quilt panels originally made in the 1980s and early 1990s for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, in Washington, D.C. Each of these panels commemorates a person who died of AIDS, or of an AIDS-related ailment. Illinois Public Media, the Department of Journalism, and students from the College of Media worked together in the fall of 2021 to create video vignettes on the lives and legacies of these individuals. The students' work is part of the exhibit and can also be viewed online.


Race and Media Surveillance

1050 Siebel Center for Design
Lecture by Chris Robe, Professor, Florida Atlantic University 
All are welcome 
Collaboration with the Illinois Community Media Project

Professor Robe is one of the leading forces in researching media activism and surveillance. He will discuss some of the liberatory aspects of media organizing and the emerging surveillance apparatus that exist to control ideas and movement. Robe’s research concerns the use of media by various social movements. In the 21st century, media does not simply offer a representational platform for different communities, but more importantly serves as a material practice to engage in collective struggles for a wide variety of purposes. Robe has written about U.S. radical film culture in the 1930s in my book Left of Hollywood: Cinema, Modernism, and the Emergence of U.S. Radical Film Culture (U of Texas Press, 2010) and have published numerous articles on media activism within various journals like Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Jump Cut, Framework, and Film History. My recent book, Breaking the Spell: A History of Anarchist Filmmakers, Videotape Guerrillas, and Digital Ninjas, explores the emergence of anarchist-based video activism. Our new book: with Stephen Charbonneau, InsUrgent Media from the Front: A Media Activism Reader (2020).


Fall 2021 Events

Colloquium on Media and Social Justice
November 5, 2021
College of Media scholars and practitioners addressed the intersection of media and social justice. Speakers included Anita Say Chan, Amanda Ciafone, Chris Evans, Amanda Mabry-Flynn, and Michelle Nelson.

Colloquium speakers