Joseph Flynn cultivates hearts for equity and inclusion
Joseph Flynn has shared a passion for social justice since coming to Northern Illinois University in 2007.
After years on the faculty in the NIU College of Education and serving on the staff of the Center for Black Studies, Flynn now oversees university initiatives designed to support faculty in their efforts to advance their knowledge of equity and inclusion.
Those include the development and implementation of NIU’s Faculty Academy on Cultural Competence and Equity, a series of hands-on and in-person workshops to transform teaching and classrooms by using an equity and inclusion lens.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is oftentimes misrepresented as a final destination. It’s not. It’s an ever-unfolding process of thought and reflection and action. I think in a position like mine, I can help folks through that process,” says Flynn, who will continue to teach in Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “I’ll be supporting my colleagues and others in figuring out the best ways to infuse DEI into all that we do.”
His academic focus examines the intersection of multicultural and social justice education, as well as Whiteness studies; media and popular culture; and curriculum studies. His work has made him a wide-ranging media expert on timely topics in education, politics, entertainment and culture.
In 2018, he won the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum’s O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award for “White Fatigue: Rethinking Resistance for Social Justice.” That same year, the NIU College of Education honored him with an Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice award.
Scores of K-12 educators also have benefitted from his knowledge and passion, thanks to their participation in the Social Justice Summer Camp launched in 2017 by Flynn and College of Education colleagues James Cohen and Michael Manderino. This multi-day immersion in professional development experience challenges teachers and administrators to explore, confront and address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in their schools.
Flynn also spearheaded efforts to bring Ferris State University’s “Hateful Things” traveling exhibition to NIU. Flynn can be heard regularly as an editorialist on WNIJ's Perspectives (Northern Public Radio).