SCAD Professor Allison Steinweg on Communicating Diversity

Image courtesy of Veronica Germano.

 

Allison Steinweg graduated from the University of Southern Florida with a Bachelor's and Master's degree in communications. She currently teaches communications at SCAD focusing on diversity and the speaking of ideas.

 

HS: What inspired you to focus on diversity when teaching communications?

AS: I started in feminist theory and realized that it's difficult to talk about gender without mentioning other issues like sexuality and socioeconomic status, bringing in intersectionality from third wave feminism. Speaking skills are a method of empowerment and I feel that diversity and communications are a match made in heaven. They just go together.

HC: Why do you think talking about issues of diversity is important?

AS: It's the right thing to do. There is a moral and ethical obligation to consider these issues to be more inclusive, especially in the industries we focus on here at SCAD. As far as artists are concerned, considering different perspectives makes us more creative and better problem solvers.

HC: Why is effective communication important, especially for college-age students?

AS: It's the number one thing that companies look for when hiring students. Interpersonal and public communication is the number one skill employers look for, and with today's media in-person communication is really important. People have become lazy with communication, so the idea is not only improving interpersonal communication skills but how to incorporate digital media effectively.

HC: In your opinion, what is the importance of taking a communications class in college?

AS: It's absolutely invaluable in a lot of aspects of our lives, from intercommunication, to interviews, to communicating in the workplace. It is used both personally and professionally. So to me it is a dream come true to teach a class where we talk about inclusivity and communications skills.

HC: What is your favorite thing about teaching SCAD students?

AS: The passion. I have never taught for a group of students who are so passionate about what they're doing and what they’re learning. It makes the classroom so much better.

HC: What do you want students to take away from your lessons?

AS: I want them to go beyond tolerance and I want them to really begin to think about these issues in their everyday lives and experiences. Inclusivity is not just a classroom topic and as creatives, these students are the people who are constructing new realities. They are at the forefront of social change and I hope they take these lessons out into the world with them.

HC: How do you keep your communications class relevant?

AS: I am constantly reading. I look at global news sources, not limited just limited to those in the US, and I’m constantly looking at peer review journals. Also constantly talking to my students. I don't think teachers think about learning from their students and they're the ones bringing new issues to my attention and it enables me to further research that topic.

HC: What are you most excited to see happen with your class?

AS: I really get excited when my students get excited. It doesn't matter what assignment it's for, it just makes teaching a wonderful experience. SCAD students already walk in wanting to get excited and it’s part of why I constantly change and adapt my class. I'm constantly working to get that reaction from my teaching.

HC: What do you hope to achieve with your teaching?

AS: I hope that my students really become better artists. My goal is to teach critical thinking skills and how to think creatively by considering other perspectives. I hope the way we talk and think about diversity will inspire more thoughtful art.