Saluki Pride: Nilanjana Bardhan helps students apply classroom experiences to their everyday lives

Considered a preeminent scholar in global public relations practice and intercultural communication, Nilanjana Bardhan, a professor in the communication studies program, is co-author of an upcoming book that focuses on leadership in building inclusive diversity in public relations. She has presented about three dozen papers at conferences, authored, co-authored and co-edited three books and published almost 30 papers and chapters in academic journals and books.

In 2019, Bardhan received the university’s Women of Distinction Award, which recognizes employees for their sustained commitment to women and/or issues of diversity through demonstrated leadership, vision and action. She serves on the Chancellor’s Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion and on the Diversity Action Council for the SIU System. She also serves on the advisory board for the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and co-chairs that organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.  


Name: Nilanjana Bardhan

Department/title: School of Communication Studies / professor

Years at SIU Carbondale: 24 in August

Give us the elevator pitch for your teaching/research job.

My two passions are teaching intercultural communication and public relations, and my research focuses on both these areas. Often, they overlap. For example, I have studied the importance and role of intercultural communication in the public relations profession in domestic and global contexts. More recently, I have developed a leadership focus in my scholarship, and this has been an exciting area of growth for me professionally and personally.

What is the favorite part of your job?

My students and being in the classroom. I love teaching! I find it so rewarding. I enjoy working with students as they connect the dots between what we learn in class and its relevance in their everyday lives – both professional and personal. And I learn so much from them, especially the importance of remaining hopeful and appreciative despite all the curveballs life can throw our way. The last few years have been so rough for our students, especially those who started college during COVID. And we have ongoing concerns such a climate change, war, polarizing political climates and so on. But their genuine concern for these issues and ability to see the glass is half full while it is half empty tells me that if these students are the leaders of tomorrow, then we have much to hope for.

Why did you choose SIU?

I was hoping to find a position that would combine both my interests: public relations and intercultural communication. That is not an easy combination to find, but I found it at SIU. I also liked the idea of living in a diverse college town.

What do you hope people take from your new book, “The Role of Leadership in Building Inclusive Diversity in Public Relations”?

I am excited about what it offers on the kind of leadership that is needed in a complicated, volatile and diverse world. It focuses quite a bit on inclusion and how leaders can practice and live it. I hope it will be useful to not just scholars, students and practitioners in public relations but to anyone who is interested in leadership in general and the role leaders need to play in building a better and kinder world.

My favorite activity away from work is …

Gardening – I love to watch stuff grow and see the butterflies and birds that are drawn to my garden. The bees are OK too.

Walking – my favorite way to exercise.

Cooking – I love trying out new recipes. I find cooking a great way to unwind.

The world needs to  …

Focus more on peace and empathy and less on hate and aggression.   

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