SJSU Public Voices Fellows Pave the Way for the CSU System

Public Voices Fellowship-Cohort 4         The fourth cohort of Public Voices Fellows convened on April 26, 2024.

In 2020, the Office of the Provost at San José State University proudly launched the Public Voices Fellows program. Public Voices is an exciting professional development opportunity undertaken in partnership with the esteemed OpEd Project, which aims to amplify expert voices that have been underrepresented in efforts to address today’s most pressing issues. Faculty fellows learned what makes an idea contagious in the public sphere, how to frame ideas in ways that will have public impact, and strategies for influencing discourse on a broad scale.

Across four cohorts from 2020 through 2024, 80+ Public Voices fellows at SJSU produced more than 250 op-eds and interviews that appeared in outlets such as The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today, The Hill, Newsweek, Ms. Magazine, CNN, and the U.S. News & World Report, among many others. SJSU fellows–which included both faculty and staff–have written about anti-Black racism, electoral politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, migrant children separated from their families at the border, tax reform, gender parity in science, the rise of artificial intelligence, and beyond. Notably, SJSU’s second Public Voices cohort tied their peers at Yale University in being the highest-producing fellowship in AY 2021-22.

The Impact of Public Voices at SJSU

Provost Vincent Del Casino underscored the long-term impacts of Public Voices at SJSU. "These faculty not only developed their skills as public intellectuals, they have also developed skills as interdisciplinary thinkers and leaders,” he explained. “This will not only enhance the reputation of our faculty but also help SJSU push for real change in the communities we want to serve in the Silicon Valley and beyond."  

Fellows described the meaning of Public Voices to their overall career development. Shaun Fletcher (Journalism and Mass Communications) observed, “My journey as a Public Voices Fellow challenged me to reflect and deeply assess my true convictions for social justice. It helped me develop my skills to refine and articulate my thoughts for public consumption, while remaining true to the substance of my advocacy.” Katie Wilkinson (Biology) enthused, “The Public Voices Fellowship has been one of the most impactful experiences that I've had at SJSU.” The cohort has made plans to continue meeting to provide feedback on each other’s work, a reflection of Ryan Skinnell (English and Comparative Literature) observation, “I came into this program expecting to learn how to be a better writer for new audiences, but I didn't expect to learn so much about the amazing work other SJSU faculty are doing, and it's been such an enlightening experience.”

Upcoming Impact for the California State University System

The Public Voices Fellowship is entering a new era, as it moves beyond our single campus and extends across the California State University system. 16 CSU provosts are joining forces to launch the first system-wide cohort. The fellowship will now enable faculty across the state to connect with their colleagues and amplify their collective expertise. SJSU is happy to have paved the way for this next phase of the program and will have two fellows in the group. Our campus also looks forward to hosting the entire system cohort at an in-person convening in May 2025.