University News

Charlton McIlwain to Deliver 2022 Communication Annual Lecture

Charlton McIlwain, professor of media, culture and communication and current vice provost for faculty engagement and development at New York University, will deliver the UMass Amherst Communication Annual Lecture, Friday, April 22 at 11:30 a.m. in the Communication Hub on the third floor of the Integrated Learning Center.

Charlton McIlwain
Charlton McIlwain

Each spring, the Communication Annual Lecture invites nationally and internationally recognized scholars to UMass Amherst to dialogue with the campus and the Western Mass community about their outstanding scholarship and contributions to the field of communication in the analysis of contemporary social problems. This year’s lecture, titled “How to Make Technology Anti-racist,” will address general calls for more accountability and transparency on governance and content distribution practices of social media platforms and search engines. McIlwain will offer a historical reflection on how computing technology stakeholders can learn lessons from the past to reimagine, conceptualize, design and build new technological systems that are less biased, more fair, increasingly equitable and explicitly anti-racist.

McIlwain is the founder of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies (CR+DS), a network of prominent public scholars of color who research, share knowledge and convene stakeholders at the intersections of race and technology to address social discrimination based on race, ethnicity and identity enacted through the design, deployment and use of digital technology applications and platforms.

His work focuses on the intersections of race, digital media and racial justice activism. He is the author of the books “Black Software: The Internet and Racial Justice, From the Afronet to Black Lives Matter” (Oxford University Press 2019) and “Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns,” which he co-authored with Stephen M. Caliendo (Temple University Press 2011). He has also authored and co-authored multiple scholarly articles, including “Racial Formation, Inequality & the Political Economy of Web Traffic,” co-authored with Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark, which was published in the journal Information, Communication & Society, and he is one of the authors of the study #CommunicationSoWhite

The Communication Annual Lecture, founded in 2020, is sponsored by the UMass Amherst Department of Communication with the support of the Cardinal-O’Leary Fund. The lecture’s speakers are nominated and selected by members of faculty and the graduate student body at large.

“The forum recognizes and highlights academic excellence and the plurality of perspectives and methodological traditions within our discipline,” explains Erica Scharrer, professor of communication and chair of the department. “The work of Charlton McIlwain is truly inspiring and directly connects with our commitment to social justice and engaged scholarship in communication.”

Those unable to attend the lecture in-person can also join via Zoom and are asked to RSVP online by Thursday, April 21.

For more information about the Department of Communication Annual Lecture or McIlwain’s visit to UMass Amherst, contact Martha Fuentes-Bautista at