Adams Brings Journalism Skills to ECW Classroom
The classroom has always called to Assistant Professor of Instruction Joshua Adams. An illustrious writing career prior to joining the faculty of the English and Creative Writing department gives him a unique insight and skill set to teach critical communication skills to students across disciplines.
“I always knew I was going to be a teacher,” Adams says. “It wasn't in a matter of if, it was more so when. I enjoy expanding students’ mind and particularly opening up new areas of inquiry that they might not have considered before they took my class.”
His passion for teaching has always lived alongside his passion for writing. He has been a writer for as long as he can remember, starting out with young writer competitions and writing his own raps and poems. His career really took off when a piece he wrote in 2012 about drill rap and Chicago artist Chief Keef.
The piece, in which Adams explored the complexities of the genre and its impact on Black communities in the city, was posted right before he went to bed. By the time he woke up, it had over 18,000 views and was picked up in various Chicago-based publications.
The visibility led to opportunities to pitch at Ebony, where Adams learned the skills, he needed to pitch elsewhere. Now he has had bylines in publications like The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA Today, Chicago Mag, The Nation, Longreads, Teen Vogue, Brooklyn Mag, PSMag, EBONY.com, WIRED, Gamespot, and more.
During much of his freelancing career, Adams was in the classroom. First teaching at Urban College Preparatory Englewood Campus, then to positions at Salem State University, Depaul University, and the University of Illinois-Chicago.
During this time and since, Adams says the skills he used in journalism translate well to the classroom.
“With my propensity as a writer, I feel like I'm really good at explaining things that are very complex; explaining them in a simple way, but also in a way that doesn't diminish the complexity," Adams says.
This has been helpful in all his classroom settings, but he particularly enjoys using his skills with students at Columbia who bring a creative mindset into their work.
“Working with creative students is rewarding because I'm also an artistic person,” Adams says. “I think there's a certain level of identification that your students already have with you. You're speaking a lingua franca right off the bat.”
For the spring 2023 semester, Adams is teaching rhetoric, a core course that students from discipline across the college take. While aspiring photographers, musicians, writers, cinematographers, and other creatives all come with very diverse goals and backgrounds, Adams knows all Columbia students will be able to take away valuable practical skills.
“If they are on Wall Street, or if they work somewhere in Hollywood, they're going to have to tell a story,” Adams says. “They're going to have to be an effective communicator. Regardless of if it's in the written form, they're still going to have to be able to communicate. Obviously writing is my specialty and my passion, but you still have to be able to communicate effectively in whatever kind of field that you go into.”
While he’s still in his first semester in Columbia, he’s enjoying the creative environment and the impact he’s able to have on his students.
“I'm excited and happy and blessed to be here,” Adams says.