Course Introduces Students to PR’s Role in Rochester Social Justice Efforts

April 10, 2023

This spring, students in Professor Arien Rozelle’s public relations course are learning that when it comes to civil rights and social justice, “it happened here.”

Public relations students at the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House.

The course introduces students to Rochester’s history with social justice then challenges them to create public relations campaigns on campus to encourage their peers to learn about and visit sites of historical significance, including Mount Hope Cemetery and the Susan B. Anthony House.  

Rozelle’s students visited those sites throughout the course of the semester, and heard a number of guest lectures, including from Erica Mock of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

An example of student work promoting Rochester's social justice history.

An example of student work promoting Rochester's social justice history.

 “There is no better way to learn about Rochester’s rich civil rights and social justice history than to visit the places where it happened. On our tour of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, we stood in the parlor of Anthony’s home where she was arrested for voting in 1872. In her attic office, we could envision the decades of hard work that went into fighting for women’s right to vote. Visits like this are not only educational, they’re inspirational,” said Rozelle.

Rozelle layered the history of social justice in Rochester over the role public relations can play in civil rights efforts and how organizations raise awareness and drive tourism through mutually beneficial relationships with key publics. Through readings and hands-on experiences, the place-based course covers a range of topics including public relations, storytelling, social media, social justice, civil rights, tourism, cultural diversity, and history.

“I feel like I have learned so much more about the rich history in Rochester in the past seven weeks than I had in all of my K-12 schooling,” said Michaela Meleca ’24, a media and communication major and marketing minor. “I believe our project in this class is very unique and beneficial in the way that not only are we learning about Rochester's history, but we are also learning effective PR tools to inspire our peers to learn more about Rochester as well. This course has given me not only tremendous experience curating and executing a PR campaign for a real client, but also will provide a very strong portfolio piece.”

Junior Ali Short, a media management major, agreed, noting that she learned a lot about the different strategies and tactics that are often used in earned media while gaining valuable experience working with her peers.

“While working within ‘mini agencies’ in our class we also gained great collaboration and teamwork experience. It’ super important to know how to work creatively with others as we will be doing in jobs post-graduation,” Short said.