Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

St. Pat’s in Chicago

March 17, 2012

Inside a conference room in downtown Chicago today, the national Accrediting Committee unanimously recommended reaccreditation of Elon’s School of Communications.

Meanwhile, outside, thousands of revelers were decked out in green as a parade passed by in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, as the day inside wore on, I took a walking break to the Chicago River, which for more than 40 years has been dyed an Irish green on St. Pat’s Day. Here is the scene via my iPhone.

Back to the inside action. The Accrediting Committee vote was anticipated in light of the highly positive report issued last fall by a site team that spent four days at Elon on behalf of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). The last step in the six-year renewal process will occur next month in Arlington, Virginia, when the Accrediting Council take the final action.


The Global Reach of iMedia

February 13, 2012

The most innovative feature of our M.A. in Interactive Media program is the Winter Term fly-in.

Last month, our 41 iMedia students divided into five teams that went to Iceland, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica (two teams) to produce an interactive project for the public good.

This week, three iMedia students will appear on “North Carolina Now” on UNC-TV public television (7:30 p.m. Thursday). Lindsey Taylor, Chris Kirkham and Brandy Stearns were part of a team that went to the reserve for the Boruca indigenous group in Costa Rica and created a website to showcase the group’s culture upon their return.

Their teacher, Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill, observed, “The fly-in is a key aspect of the iMedia program because students can integrate what they’ve learned in the fall as they work together, very hard, on these projects. Going to these countries and working with these organizations is a real challenge. We learn about other cultures and ways of life, all while getting a large project completed in a small amount of time.”

iMedia students prepare for the UNC-TV interview

Senior Lecturer Randy Piland, accompanied by Assistant Professor Nicole Triche, took students to Panama for his third year, this time to work with a group that does conservation and education about sea turtles. Piland said that the students were very fortunate to be there when baby turtles hatched and made their way to the sea – something that can’t be predicted. That moment was preserved by iMedia students in a video for the group’s website designed by the team.

Further north, Assistant Professor Phillip Motley took students to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, where they traveled for several days, ending up at Campanario Biological Station, which is run by a former Peace Corps volunteer who purchased the land and developed the station for education, conservation and research. Motley’s group carried gear across rivers and through jungles to get great shots of the biological and cultural diversity that Campanario seeks to preserve. “The problems that our students are expected to solve are genuine,” Motley said. “Providing our clients with a viable solution is the ultimate measure of project and course success.”

Assistant Professors Sang Nam and Max Negin took students to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico to work with a program that provides supplementary education for children in the area. Students worked to develop a consistent brand for Academia Natanael, including designing custom logos for the group. They also incorporated a blog element into the website that lets the academy director tell the stories about his work in a way that he can easily update.

Really further north, a hardy group of iMedia students, Assistant Professor Derek Lackaff and Instructor J McMerty spent the first part of 2012 in Iceland. Lackaff’s students did a series of videos and a website redesign for the Citizen’s Foundation, which seeks to use new technologies to increase citizen participation in democratic decision-making. “Small societies are fascinating!” Lackaff said. “With only 315,000 residents in the country, we were told repeatedly that there are at most only two degrees of separation between any two Icelanders. The Mayor of Reykjavik, a Member of Parliament, and an Academy Award-nominated poet were among the friends of the nonprofit who were willing to be filmed for our project.”

iMedia students presented their work to a standing-room-only crowd in McEwen Communications Building two weeks ago, and now some of them will be on statewide television, sharing the story of Elon’s global reach through its interactive projects for the public good.

Turkish Delights

July 23, 2011

Vice Dean Billur Ulger of Yeditepe U walks the Elon delegation (Int'l Dean Woody Pelton flanked by Provost Steven House and wife Pat) to the Comm building

Turkey is an extraordinary country. My journey there this summer had three purposes:

1. A visit to Yeditepe University in Istanbul, which has a fine communication program. We had conversations with a dean and faculty members about forming a student-exchange partnership. While many Elon students want to study in Western Europe, an increasing number are looking to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia for a stimulating academic and cultural experience. Yeditepe, on the Asian side of Istanbul, certainly qualifies.

2. As a U.S. delegate on the World Journalism Education Council, we met in Istanbul this week to hear presentations and select the site of the next World Congress in 2013. Our decision: Brussels, Belgium. We heard an excellent bid presentation by the European Journalism Training Association in conjunction with the Dutch network of journalism schools. This will be the third Congress. The first was in Singapore in 2007, and the second in South Africa in 2010.

Cappadocia's rock chimneys

3. After the work-related week in Istanbul, it was time for a few vacation days in Turkey. The ruins at ancient Ephesus were spectacular. So were the natural pools of Pamukkale and the amazing natural rock formations in the shape of chimneys in Cappadocia in central Turkey. Now it’s back to the United States, with a greater appreciation of Turkey’s beauty and strategic position in the world.

Live from Vilnius, Lithuania

September 26, 2010

Three School of Communications students and a professor covered this year’s Internet Governance Forum in eastern Europe — continuing Elon’s history of being the academic eyes and ears of the forum for the world.

Our coverage from Lithuania included live webcasts of panel appearances by Elon students Kirsten Bennett, Sam Baranowski and Drew Smith and by Professor Glenn Scott. They were streamed online by the United Nations on Sept. 16 and 17.

Our systematic reporting from Internet Governance Forums is a product of the Imagining the Internet Center, created by Elon’s School of Communications and under the direction of Professor Janna Anderson.

Dirty Words

September 5, 2010

The title of Tom Wolfe’s 1940 novel “You Can’t Go Home Again” has entered the public vocabulary as a way of saying that the passing of time prevents a person from ever really being able to “go home again.”

I put that notion to the test this weekend by returning to my first academic home, Kansas State University, where I served as a professor and administrator for 16 years before coming to Elon as founding dean of the School of Communications in 2001.

Sorry, Tom Wolfe. I think you can successfully go home again, or at least it felt that way for me.

In my national role as 2010-11 ASJMC President, I was invited to speak at the 100th anniversary banquet celebrating Kansas State’s journalism school, which is the third-oldest in the nation. (The School of Journalism at Missouri is the oldest, formed two years earlier.)

While there, I enjoyed seeing former colleagues and former students. One former student remembered the time when I stood in front of her media law class and recited the seven “dirty words” that were banned from the broadcast airwaves. Our textbook had chickened out and not printed them, and this is before the Internet days when a student could do a quick Google search. So when I was asked what were the seven words, I recited them matter-of-factly.

Nancy Chartrand, the former student who reminded me of this classroom moment, says she and a few friends thought about raising their hands and saying, “Excuse us, Professor Parsons, we missed that last one — the one that began with an F. Could you repeat that one please?” But she says they, too, chickened out and the moment passed.

A beautiful day for a win over UCLA

The day after the 100th celebration events, I returned to Kansas State’s football stadium to watch the Wildcats defeat UCLA, 31-22, amid more than 50,000 purple-clad fans. As this picture shows, I was wearing purple, too.

I’ve decided that you can go home again, at least for a memorable weekend.

Sport, Event, Leisure

July 31, 2010

With a mountain backdrop, the Colorado Rockies take the field against the Cubs

What a beautiful evening for baseball.

Arriving in Denver a few days before a national conference, my wife and I bought two tickets on the street last night and got to the game just in time to snap this photo of the Colorado Rockies taking the field to start the game.

It became a game for the record books. The home team got a record 11 consecutive hits and 12 runs in the bottom of the eighth to demolish the Chicago Cubs, 17-2.

As I watched the game with the real Rockies in the distance, I thought about the Sport & Event Management Department becoming part of the School of Communications this summer. The department (formerly called Leisure & Sport Management) focuses on sport, leisure and recreation as well as the event planning, facilities, legal issues and other organizational components necessary to manage sports and events successfully.

The baseball game itself… sport. The handling of 40,000 fans… a large-scale event. My purpose as a spectator… leisure. Sport, event, leisure. The three are interconnected, and we are pleased to have Sport & Event Management as part of our school, complementing our sports media and strategic communications curricula.

From Cape Town to Dungbeetle Lodge

July 13, 2010

The Parsons in Cape Town, South Africa

This being our first time on the African continent, Mary Helen and I built a week of travel around the World Journalism Education Congress.

South Africa is a nation of contrasts. Cape Town is beautiful, yet we saw the poverty in the townships that is the nation’s greatest challenge. We traveled to the Cape of Good Hope where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean, and we visited Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for two decades. We stayed at the delightfully named Dungbeetle Lodge near Port Elizabeth and went on safari. These photos of ours show a slice of our leisure week.

Townships reflect the still-considerable poverty in the country

Into Schotia Private Game Reserve

We spent a half-hour watching this family dynamic

A face-to-face moment for two eland, a species of antelope