Communication Studies

Diversity Statements

SCOM 331, Communication and Conflict

Instructor: Rozanne Leppington

I try to teach all my courses from the starting assumption of Diversity. I do not try to "feature" specific items of interest or examples of diversity, or "integrate" instances of diversity into an otherwise conventional agenda of Modernity. Instead, "Diversity" is the default setting of the social construction of reality through the primary human process of communication. "Communication" then is not defined as a language-based, ethnocentric tool we use for the accurate transmission and reception of messages, but rather as the generative all-encompassing condition of life, and the natural emergence from that is plurality and the diversity of all forms of life and ways of being human.

That having been said, I can give two examples of concepts that I teach this way. The first is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis with its two corollaries of "Linguistic Relativity" and "Linguistic Determinism". I offer two cases where not understanding the implications of these produced social conditions that we can see as gross violations; The Carlisle Industrial School of Captain Pratt in Pennsylvania where indigenous tribes’ children were forced to become "human" in the European-Christian world view and The Ayamara tribe who conceptualize the future as being behind them and the past in front of them, and the consequences of that cultural construction when interpreted by Spanish invaders as lazy, shiftless, worthless and ripe for subjugation and exploitation. The second example is of "Gender" where I provide a way of seeing sex (on a y axis) and gender (on an x axis) as a ‘soft assembly’ in a field of possible configurations for the entire expression and reconstruction of identity in "living-interaction" (read -- "communication") practices.