COM Graduate Students Attend Annenberg Summer Doctoral Institute

Anjuli Brekke

This summer, UW Department of Communication graduate students—Meshell Sturgis, Marcus Johnson, and Anjuli Brekke—attended the fourth annual USC-UPenn Annenberg Summer Doctoral Institute on Difference in Media and Culture.

This week-long interdisciplinary workshop brings together exemplary doctoral students and faculty members from Communication, Media Studies, American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Information Technology, and other fields. Participants examine race, gender, sexuality, and other aspects of difference in the media, politics, and culture. Admission to the Institute is based

Meshell Sturgis

on submitted papers and recommendations for this immersive experience from the applicants’ advisors.

“This provided me an invaluable opportunity to engage in critical conversations with other scholars interested in difference and equity,” says Anjuli Brekke. “We met in an intimate space with faculty and doctoral students from across the country to learn from each other’s research and wide variety of experiences.”

The program includes in-depth research seminars in which all participants present and discuss their work. These sessions empower students and provide a space for vulnerability and experimentation.

Marcus Johnson

“Although conference presentations are expected to be concise, and tightly packaged conclusions where all the messy seams are hidden from view, conference organizer and USC professor, Dr. Taj Frazier, expressed that this institute was meant to be a space to workshop our projects in their various states of completion,” explains Anjuli. “Through the rich variety, both in terms of content as well as embodied presentations, I was energized by the possibilities opened up by this space of community and collaboration.”

Meshell Sturgis agrees that this was a great opportunity to share her work with “a diverse group of like-minded individuals, which allowed space for playful theoretical curiosity.” Referencing the intellectual atmosphere, she says, “While there was a shared foundation, the topics covered and theoretical lenses used, as well as methods practiced, were quite eclectic. The vibe of collegiality was much appreciated by all of us, and personally, encouraged me to lean into exploring my work rather than being apprehensive or bristled.”

Anjuli Brekke, Marcus Johnson, and Meshell Sturgis are a part of the Communication and Difference Research Group (CDRG) at the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity (CCDE). Read more about their time at the Annenberg institute in the spring/summer edition of the CCDE newsletter.