A 2013 graduate of WRAC’s Rhetoric and Writing PhD program, Dr. Donnie Sackey is now an assistant professor in the Department of English at Wayne State University. His research interests include Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and Rhetoric and Composition Studies. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses focusedaround subjects such as cultural rhetorics, visual culture, information design, and environmental rhetoric.
Dr. Sackey is also a member of an organization called Detroit Integrated Vision for Environmental Research through Science and Engagement, or D•VERSE. D•VERSE is a group of Wayne State faculty and community partners working together to study how environmental stressors impact public health within the Detroit area. “Our primary purpose has been to engage in transdisciplinary research at the intersection of health, environmental, and communication sciences,” Dr. Sackey says.
The D•VERSE team is comprised of a communications scholar (Dr. Sackey), an information designer, a biological scientist, a civil and environmental engineer, and an environmental lawyer. While team members may have different areas of expertise, their common goal is to perform community-based participatory research and create user-centered guides for doing scientific research.
So far, Dr. Sackey has worked on two projects with D•VERSE. The first project entailed assessing the health and environmental impacts of living near open storage sites of petroleum coke on residents of southwest Detroit. The second project focused on the impact of air quality on asthmatic Detroit teenagers.
Reflecting on his time at MSU, Dr. Sackey says he was especially drawn to the Rhetoric and Writing program’s diversity and flexibility. “I liked the fact that the program offered the opportunity to build a self-designed concentration,” he says.
He chose to pursue a concentration in rhetoric, environment, and cultural geography, which led to taking courses in environmental justice and human geography. He draws on his own experiences as a graduate student when offering guidance to the students he now works with at Wayne State. “When I was in the program, I treated coursework as if it were a job,” he says.
Dr. Sackey also encourages students to build relationships within their academic fields and beyond it, just as he has done. “In many ways, it has been these academic and nonacademic networks that have kept me sane in my first couple years as a faculty member.”
Written by Allie Wilson
Photo submitted by Donnie Sackey