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Building Bridges and Transforming Lives

Srividya “Srivi” Ramasubramanian, Ph.D., has recently been honored with national awards in recognition of her research, publishing and teaching on media, diversity and social justice as a member of the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University.  

By Hannah Brennan

Dr. SriviSrividya “Srivi” Ramasubramanian, Ph.D., has recently been honored with a national award in recognition of her research, publishing and teaching on media, diversity and social justice as a member of the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University.  

Dr. Srivi, as she is fondly known among students and by colleagues, will be presented with the 2020 Gerald M. Phillips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship during the 106th National Communication Association virtual convention on Nov. 21. The NCA described her community-based diversity and media literacy initiatives as a “revolutionary approach” that exemplifies the essence of the award as it shows how applied communication scholars can simultaneously and collaboratively infuse pressing social issues in communication research that bridges local and global communities. 

Just days after the NCA award was announced, Dean Pam Matthews announced that Dr. Srivi will receive a College-Level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching during the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s reception on Oct. 28. The annual award recognizes and rewards superior classroom teachers. In addition to these new honors, Dr. Srivi is a Presidential Impact Fellow, Professor of Communication and Liberal Arts Cornerstone Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M.

Both her Difficult Dialogues Project and Media Rise initiative were inspired by Dr. Srivi’s focus on marginalized groups having a voice in the media space. As a professor, she noted she always works collaboratively with her students on projects and emphasized their contribution to the awards. 

“Right now, we have 18 graduates and undergrads from all over campus working in the Difficult Dialogues Project,” said Dr. Srivi. “Without the support of all my students, none of this could happen.”

Difficult Dialogues was founded in 2016 as a space to have conversations on difficult topics, Dr. Srivi explained. Since the pandemic, the project has moved completely to online meetings via Zoom. Her other initiative, Media Rise, connects educators, community groups, and industry professionals to promote media for social good. Recently, she invited people from around the world to submit their stories of experiences during the pandemic for a blog series called “Quarantined Across Borders.” 

Dr Srivi and students

Left to right: Asha Winfield, Anthony Ramirez, Ramin Chaboki Darzabi, Srividya Ramasubramanian

thank you Dr. Srivi card

Difficult Dialogues group

Difficult Dialogues on Campus has been orchestrated 26 times, co-founded by professors in the department of communication to address campus race relations and past instances of racism on the Texas A&M campus. The next Difficult Dialogue is scheduled for Sept. 18.

“Communication is such an important part of healing and transformation,” said Dr. Ramasubramanian. “Forever we will have these stories like an archive.”

Building bridges to join multiple groups of people is the hope that drives Dr. Srivi’s work. Only two other members of the Texas A&M faculty have had their scholarship recognized with the NCA applied communication award; Dr. Srivi is the first person of color in the discipline to receive this prestigious national award.

“I’m very happy to be the first person, but in a way it’s kind of disappointing that it’s 2020,” said Dr. Srivi. “We still have more work to do within the Communication discipline.”

Especially now, Dr. Srivi believes that social distancing is making it harder to seek connections to new people. She is currently working with her students to create interactive online spaces that will be available to marginalized communities to have honest conversations on meaningful topics. 

It is just one more example of how Dr. Srivi’s work moves from research into the world where it connects people and transforms lives.

“This award is richly deserved,” said Hart Blanton, department head of communication at Texas A&M. “Professor Ramasubramanian shows how educators can make a difference by sharing their lessons with their communities.”