Karla Scott is a Professor of Communication at Saint Louis University where her Black feminist teaching and research focuses on race, language and communication across contexts and social identity in dialogue across divisions. “I taught my first race and communication course in 1990 and was hooked as I witnessed the transformative power of dialogue and the value of sharing and listening to better understand identity differences so they do not become divisions. In my classes dialogue facilitation is critical to learning.” She was in the first cohort of the Mindful Facilitation Certification Program and is excited to work again with the StirFry Seminars family.
A proud native of East St. Louis, Illinois she says her first experience “crossing cultural borders” began when she left a predominantly Black public school in her hometown to attend a Lutheran grade school in a nearby all White town. “Those five years offered insight and ignited my interest in communication, specifically how we navigate identity in interpersonal interaction to resist stereotypes and racist assumptions about who we are. During this same time I also witnessed White flight in my hometown and watched the decline of a city that once thrived—and much like the stories of other similar Black towns systemic, structural racism and public policies contributed to the demise and have assured it never recovered.”
Karla joined the Saint Louis University Department of Communication faculty in 1994 and served as Director of the African American Studies Program from 2000-2013 where she led the transformation of the curriculum from selected courses leading to a certificate to an academic major in the College of Arts & Sciences. She also served three years as Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences and was promoted to Full Professor in 2018. She is the recipient of four Saint Louis University teaching awards, a College of Arts & Sciences mentoring award, and several national awards for her research on language, communication and identity in the lived experiences Black women. She is the author of The Language of Strong Black Womanhood: Myths, Models, Messages, and a New Mandate for Self-care published in 2017 by Lexington Books. “ As a Black woman I am acutely aware of how race and gender identities influence our everyday experiences. In all that I’ve done—and still plan to do!—my goal has been to help make the world a better place, to build bridges of understanding across identities and create spaces where that can happen”.
She is also the founder of Dialogue, Diversity and Dharma, LLC offering workshops to build capacity to talk about race, develop contexts for dialogic communication and provide strategies for social justice education. Karla describes herself as “writer, teacher, yogi, healer.”