Word Power

Ellen Cushman is the per­fect scholar to hold the pres­ti­gious title—a public intel­lec­tual incom­pa­rably suited to be the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties’ inau­gural director of Civic Sus­tain­ability, Diver­sity, and Inclu­sion Initiatives.

“Over the past two decades,” Cushman says, “I’ve been thinking, writing, and teaching about the strengths of diverse learners in class­rooms and com­mu­ni­ties as well as the prob­lems they face.”

Her research cen­ters on lit­eracy in tribal and urban com­mu­ni­ties, with a par­tic­ular focus on exploring language’s role in the everyday struggle for dig­nity, respect, and change.

As a Cherokee Nation cit­izen, her work is informed by the tribe’s ethic of reci­procity. “We have a social respon­si­bility to each other,” she says, “an oblig­a­tion to the people with whom we make knowledge.”

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