Michigan State University


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Databases & Terms Searched: 

Literature searches were conducted in the Communication and Mass Media Complete, ERIC, and Education Full Text databases.  Keyword and subject searches included combinations and variants of terms and phrases such as communication – study and teaching, instruction, critical communication pedagogy, anti-racist pedagogy, inclusion, multiculturalism, and diversity.


What are communication studies classroom activities for teaching about the construction of social identities? How can diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice be explored in communication studies courses? What are areas to consider for further investigation in diversity and instructional communication research?  This summary explores current themes and trends presented in selected articles on inclusive teaching and learning in communication studies.

Recent literature provides various examples of activities designed to facilitate inclusive teaching and learning in communication studies classes.  Some pedagogical activities focus on learning from and about specific groups, such as people with disabilities (Anderson, West, and Anderson, 2016).  Others focus on classroom discussion, writing, and reflection about identity construction and cultural stereotypes (Antony, 2016; Suwinyattichaiporn, 2016).  Kirby (2016), Rudick, Golsan, and Freitag (2018), and Swenson-Lepper (2016) describe service-learning projects designed to promote learning from and about diverse groups, and to raise awareness about issues of social justice.  Lasorsa (2002) also combines theory and practice by outlining strategies for explaining how mass communication theories relate to issues such as (among others) systematic and unconscious bias in the media. Additional articles focus on implementing learning activities involving difficult dialogues about diversity and inclusion (Darr, 2016; Majocha and Mullennix, 2015). Recent literature also increasingly focuses on critical communication pedagogy and anti-racist pedagogy in theory, research, and practice (De La Mare, 2014; Donovan and Tracy, 2017; Kvam, Considine, and Palmeri, 2018; Rudick, 2017).

The literature also provides suggestions for future directions for diversity and instructional communication research. Orbe (2016) calls for scholars of instructional communication to further investigate how cultural identity, difference, and intersectionality shape teaching and learning. Rudick and Golsan (2016) also call for communication studies scholars to explore how difference is communicated and managed in education; to be more accountable to diverse groups potentially affected by education research; and to confront various forms of discrimination in order to promote inclusion and social justice in education.

Relevant Journals: 

Communication Education

Communication Teacher

Critical Studies in Media Communication

Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


Anderson, J., Westwick, J., & Anderson, J. (2016). “More alike than different”: Learning about diversity from people with disabilities. Communication Teacher, 30(3), 159-164.

Antony, M. G. (2016). Exploring diversity through dialogue: Avowed and ascribed identities. Communication Teacher, 30(3), 125-130.

Darr, C. R. (2016). Debating diversity: Ethics and controversial public issues. Communication Teacher, 30(3), 147-152.

De La Mare, D. M. (2014). Using critical communication pedagogy to teach public speaking. Communication Teacher, 28(3), 196–202.

Donovan, M. C. J., & Tracy, S. J. (2017). Critical pedagogy meets transformation: Creating the being of communication activists. Communication Education, 66(3), 378–380.

Kirby, E. L. (2016). Encountering my privilege (and others’ oppression). Communication Teacher, 30(3), 172-178.

Kvam, D. S., Considine, J. R., & Palmeri, T. (2018). Defining diversity: An analysis of student stakeholders’ perceptions of a diversity-focused learning outcome. Communication Education, 67(3), 287–307

Lasorsa, D. L. (2002). Diversity in mass communication theory courses. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 57(3), 244-259.

Majocha, K. L., & Mullennix, J. W. (2015). Shades of grey: An interdisciplinary approach to a constructive understanding of diversity in the communication classroom. Qualitative Research Reports In Communication, 16(1), 29-37.

Orbe, M. P. (2016). “Diversity Matters” in communication education. Communication Education, 65(1), 118-120.

Rudick, C. K., & Golsan, K. B. (2016). Difference, accountability, and social justice: Three challenges for instructional communication scholarship. Communication Education, 65(1), 110-112.

Rudick, C. K. (2017). A critical organizational communication framework for communication and instruction scholarship: Narrative explorations of resistance, racism, and pedagogy. Communication Education, 66(2), 148–167.

Rudick, C. K., Golsan, K. B., & Freitag, J. (2018). Critical communication pedagogy and service learning in a mixed-method communication research course. Communication Teacher, 32(1), 54–60.

Suwinyattichaiporn, T. (2016). Project Me: Understanding social identities through social media. Communication Teacher, 30(3), 179-183.

Swenson-Lepper, T. (2012). Teaching communication ethics and diversity: Using technology and community engagement to enhance learning. Communication Teacher, 26(4), 228-235.

Contact Info

Sharon Ladenson
Gender and Communication Studies Librarian
(517) 884-0891