Journalism professor and Fashion Studies Department win DEI Teaching Activism honors

By Jordan Perkins, News Editor

Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, a professor in the Communication Department, is this year’s individual winner of the DEI Teaching Activism award for her work in the classroom as well as her work with Columbia Votes. K’Von Jackson

Winning the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Teaching Activism Award came as a big surprise to Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin.

Bloyd-Peshkin, a professor in the Communication Department and founder of Columbia Votes, said she did not see the announcement when it was first sent but learned about winning the award after receiving text messages from people congratulating her.

In a Feb. 22 email, Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David announced the winners of the award, which honored the Fashion Studies Department and Bloyd-Peshkin as the individual recipient.

The provost referenced the new DEI-designated courses and the Sustainable Fashion minor the Fashion Studies Department created. The email also highlighted Bloyd-Peshkin’s work with Columbia Votes and said she is a “departmental and campus leader” in DEI Activist Teaching.

Columbia Votes is an initiative started by Bloyd-Peshkin in 2019 to get college students registered to vote and assist them in the process of voting. Bloyd-Peshkin said she believes in the youth vote and wanted to equip students with the knowledge to vote. Between 2016 and 2020 Columbia’s student voting rate increased 16%.

Sustainable Fashion, the new interdisciplinary minor the Fashion Studies Department introduced, looks at sustainability, how it is applied to practices in the fashion industry and how students implement it in their own studies.

Colbey Reid, chair and professor in the Fashion Studies Department, said she felt “great excitement and gratitude” upon receiving the news her department won, giving credit to the students and faculty who have worked hard and shown commitment to DEI initiatives.

“[The award] lets us know that it’s been seen and that it has value to the larger campus community,” Reid said. “It’s very motivating when someone … acknowledges work that you’ve been doing … [the award] encourages us to keep going.”

Erin McCarthy, interim chair of the Communication Department and associate professor in the Humanities, History, and Social Sciences Department, said the department was extremely proud of Bloyd-Peshkin and the work she has done and celebrates her achievement.

“Sharon’s colleagues know how hard she works, how dedicated she is to her students,” McCarthy said. “I think it is very gratifying when an institution recognizes the significant work as it’s going on.”

Bloyd-Peshkin, who teaches in the journalism program, said she was proud of Columbia for having an award like this because many colleges do not have an award for DEI pedagogy.

“It really shows what the college values and makes me excited to continue pushing myself and helping others to become more transformative teachers,” Bloyd-Peshkin said.