English Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism (IDEA) Committee

The English department strives to be an inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all NIU students including English majors and minors, first-year composition students and general education students from across the university. 

To continually improve and ensure this commitment, we have created a department committee to direct these efforts.  The committee is made up of professorial and instructional faculty as well as graduate and undergraduate student members. 

The committee welcomes your suggestions and interest. If you would like to volunteer, partner with us on a program or leave a suggestion for activities or topics, please complete our committee request/feedback form.


The English IDEA Committee aims to foster a sense of belonging for all students, faculty, and staff; promote anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable pedagogies, policies, and curricula within the department; and generate productive dialogue among our various constituencies. Across our many programs, we are committed to empowering students as readers, writers, educators, and agents whose words can create a more just and equitable world.

Committee Goals

In the 2020-2022 period, the committee has:

  • Developed a BIPOC Support Statement
  • Created new accessible syllabus templates
  • Added diverse literature requirements to undergraduate curriculum (2019) and graduate curriculum (2021)
  • Increased diverse course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level including new courses on LGBTQ+ Drama, BIPOC American Drama, LGBTQ+ Film, Feminist Theory by Women of Color, and more regular offerings of Literature of Social Justice, World Literature, Postcolonial Literature, African American and Black Diasporic Literature, Latina/Latino Literature, Native American Literature, Women Writers, and additional diverse special topics courses
  • Expanded professional development and training opportunities for instructional faculty through FYC First Friday and Brown Bag lecture series with topics on inclusive teaching, teaching with technology, LGBTQ+ inclusion, NIU Land Acknowledgment, linguistic diversity, Black joy, neurodiversity, and more
  • Administered a Department Climate survey to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Initiated a new “Fostering Belonging” Award for undergraduate and graduate English students
  • Held a new student welcome event for Students of Color (Spring 2021)
  • Removed barriers to graduate admissions
  • Increased BIPOC recruitment efforts in both undergrad and grad programs
  • Advocated for diverse faculty and staff hiring across the university and for mentoring programs to support these hires
  • Advanced NIU’s Land Acknowledgment statement in collaboration with the History department and other units on campus
  • Collaborated with Student Government Association and other units on campus for a DuSable Hall rededication event to highlight the history DuSable Hall’s name and the history of student activists’ who have emphasized Northern Illinois’s diverse regional history and student demographics
  • Beyond NIU, continued representing race and ethnicity in the profession via Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly membership (2020-2022)

First-Year Composition Actions

Our First-Year Composition program has prioritized BIPOC students and anti-racist practices by:

  • Contemporary Voices, an anthology of the work of developmental writers (1985-present)
  • Unity in Diversity Essay Contest (1987–2016)
  • Common Reading Experience Essay Contest (2017-present), including Kahn-Cullors and Bandele’s When They Call You a Terrorist (2019–2021) and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (2021-2023) required in all sections of ENGL 103
  • Fall Open Mic, covering such topics as identity, race, difference, diversity, discrimination (2002–present)
  • Anti-racist and diversity pedagogy training
  • FYComp Diversity and Inclusion ad hoc subcommittee (2019–present)
  • Equity Gap Initiatives (2017–present)