The EDIT 5: Advice from Faculty to Administrators on Leadership for Inclusive Media Production Programs

This document was created by media faculty for media program chairs and administrators. The motivation for this document builds on faculty research on U.S. higher education media production classrooms conducted for the “EDIT 10: Best Practices for Inclusive Teaching in Media Production.”* With that in mind, EDIT Media compiled the EDIT 5, a list of recommended practices for department chairs and administrators to foster inclusive media production programs that support all faculty, staff, and students. This list builds not only on a literature review of academic research on issues of inclusion for faculty in higher education, but also on focus groups and surveys with current media production faculty and students.

In focus groups with 35 faculty, as well as surveys with 167 faculty and 171 students around the United States, several themes emerged that can only be addressed at the administrative level of production programs. For example, several complications impact production faculty’s ability to teach inclusively or to thrive in their academic careers. For faculty of underrepresented identities in production (women, people of color, people of LGBTQ identities, people with disabilities, etc.), issues of inclusion or marginalization exist that affect their capacity to succeed in the classroom: concerns about career advancement, difficulty navigating campus or departmental culture, and limited access to support systems or resources. For students, too, their need for inclusion extends beyond individual classrooms into larger questions of success: a diverse curriculum, access to learning resources and academic support systems, and opportunities to join and lead student curricular and co-curricular groups.

Like the EDIT 10, the EDIT 5 practices are not a solution, nor are they close to exhaustive. Instead, they provide a framework for chairs and administrators to advance inclusive policies, practices, and support systems in their departments.

We see this as a living document that will change and grow as we continue our research initiative to examine equity and diversity in higher education production programs. We hope the EDIT 5 will encourage rich conversations between faculty, administrators, staff, and students about how best our programs can succeed.

Download a printable version of this document here.

1. Broaden Your Team:

Recruit and support a diverse student body. Implement hiring practices for increasing diversity among your faculty. Provide outreach and recruitment to underrepresented groups in job searches. Provide training in inclusive hiring practices for faculty and staff, including acknowledging ways bias influences hiring decisions. Make sure all faculty have the resources to thrive. Ensure that there is professional mentorship, support in navigating departmental culture, and training in career development for faculty of underrepresented groups.

2. Cultivate Your Crew:

Acknowledge in tenure and promotion the specific challenges faced by faculty of marginalized identities in their academic careers, such as bias in student evaluations, disproportionate expectations of service, and misunderstandings about the seriousness of their creative or professional work. Be sensitive to the precarious positions of adjunct faculty and staff, and ensure they have access to mentorship and departmental support systems, as well. Be aware that faculty who integrate issues of identity or social justice in their classrooms, especially production classes where students might not expect such topics, are particularly at risk of disproportionately negative teaching evaluations. Provide training in pedagogy and inclusion throughout your faculty and staff cohort, especially for those transferring from professional careers into academia.

3. Prioritize Inclusion:

Make equity and inclusion an explicit departmental policy for faculty, staff, and students. Provide regular pedagogical training that addresses the specific populations at your institution for all faculty and technical staff who work with and support students. Make conversations about inclusion in teaching, research, and academic culture a central element of faculty, staff, and departmental meetings. Develop partnerships with key offices on campus, including the disabilities office, diversity and inclusion office, LGBTQ office, etc., to better provide support and resources for your faculty, students, and staff.

4. Track Your Stats:

Create a snapshot of inclusion in your program by tracking student statistics. Include demographic data on who initially enrolls in your program or major, who drops out and when, with attention to what might be causing students to change programs or withdraw from school. Where possible–and with respect to the fact that not all students report their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation–monitor which students track into particular areas of study, advanced courses, or technical specializations within your program, noting where there are imbalances. Where you see needs based on data, establish systems of support for students of underrepresented groups, such as funding opportunities, partnerships with industry that promote new career pathways, or student-run clubs, organizations, or campus media groups. Do a self-study to see whether these student numbers change when departments are flexible about required software, equipment, or access to labs or campus facilities for low-income students, working students, and students with family responsibilities.

5. Build Interdisciplinary Bridges:

Create paths of communication and collaboration between production and critical studies faculty to better bridge the relationship between theory and practice in curriculum. Provide opportunities for coordinated curricular development that reinforce key concepts across classes in both approaches. Incentivize collaborative teaching between production and studies faculty. As well, encourage and develop partnerships and collaborations with other departments and programs on campus, including cultural studies, women’s and gender studies, LGBTQ studies, disability studies, and so on, to further integrate questions of equity into media production programs. Build bridges across ranks: ensure that adjunct faculty, contingent faculty, and a diversity of students have a voice in departmental decision-making, including curricular development.

Lead authors:
Jennifer Proctor, M.F.A., University of Michigan-Dearborn
Miranda Banks, Ph.D., Emerson College

* Proctor, Jennifer. “Inclusive Teaching in Media Production – Student Survey” and “Inclusive Teaching in Media Production – Instructor Survey.” Survey. Qualtrics (Provo, UT). June 15, 2017.

See the EDIT 10 and Introducing the EDIT 10 for more information on research methodology for these initiatives.