The 16 scholars selected for this year’s Study of the U.S. Institute on Journalism and the Media are pictured around the world map inside Baker University Center.

Photographer: Rob Hardin


Tim Sharp, news director at WOUB, gives some of the Study of the U.S. Institute on Journalism and the Media scholars a tour of the WOUB facilities.

Photographer: Rob Hardin


SUSI scholars Gulnura Toralieva of Kyrgyzstan and Gunjidmaa Gongor of Mongolia enjoy a laugh on the set at 19 Action News in Cleveland.

Photographer: Rob Hardin

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Program brings scholars from throughout the world to OHIO

“This program has brought the world to campus.”

That’s how Mary Rogus describes the Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and the Media, which Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Institute for International Journalism has been hosting for the past four summers.

Rogus is the academic director of the six-week program that brings scholars from around the world to the United States to explore the role that the media plays in American society and government. This is the fourth consecutive year that Ohio University has been selected to host the program, which is fully funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State.

This year’s SUSI program has brought 16 scholars from 16 countries to the Athens Campus. The scholars, all of whom are journalism or communication professors in their home countries, arrived in Athens on July 4. They represent countries from five continents, and they are here not only to learn but also to teach.

The scholars spend most of the program in Athens, engaging in academic programs at the University. The program includes discussions, panels and speakers who focus on various themes, including media ethics, U.S. and international media systems and the role of journalism in democracy, and strategic communication. Those presenting the information include industry experts, instructors from other higher education institutes in the United States and abroad, faculty members from throughout Ohio University, as well as the scholars themselves.

On Wednesday, the scholars were participating in a seminar on journalism skills pedagogy and practicum courses. The seminar was led by Ellen Gerl, who teaches the magazine practicum at Ohio University, and Rogus, who instructs the broadcast journalism practicum.

“We want to show these scholars that what you’ve heard about American journalism is, in fact, true,” Rogus explained. “I know that a lot of the scholars when they arrive here don’t believe that the U.S. media is as free as they’ve heard because many of them are dealing with such restrictions and horrible conditions for journalists.”

During the SUSI program, each scholar also participates in an individual research, curriculum development or creative project and is matched with an OHIO faculty member who has a similar interest or area of expertise.

“We’ve been able to engage faculty from across the campus in some of the sessions and working with the scholars, so the program has expanded beyond just the College of Communication,” Rogus said.

The scholars aren’t just gathering information; they’re sharing it as well.

This is the second year in which the scholars have been asked to present lectures in OHIO’s International Mass Media class. The scholars lecture on their country’s media system, journalism practices, political culture and other topics. The lectures are recorded and made available online for students enrolled in the class and for instructors who teach the course in the future.

“The recordings are a great resource for us and the scholars,” Rogus said. “We give them CDs to take back to use in their own international media and journalism classes.”

The scholars spend a portion of the SUSI program outside Athens, traveling on media and cultural visits. Already, the group has toured the former coal-mining towns of Southeast Ohio, Google headquarters in San Francisco, and the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta. They’ve visited media outlets, including CNN, and an Amish newspaper produced in Ohio – just to name a few.

“We hope that when they leave, they have that realistic picture that you can only get by being here and by meeting people and talking to people and seeing how the media works and seeing the differences in culture in different parts of the country,” Rogus said.

Among the SUSI scholars is Gunjidmaa Gongor, a professor in the School of Journalism at the Press Institute of Mongolia. This is her first visit to the United States, and she said she was most interested in learning about the principles of free media, new media trends and the future of media.

“Our organization’s main goal is to foster independent and pluralistic media in Mongolia and to support professional journalism,” Gongor explained. “This program – where 16 individuals from 16 different countries are sharing information – that’s very useful to me and to our organization.”

It’s that sharing of information that Rogus enjoys most about the SUSI program.

“Without question, the part I enjoy most is being able to share culture and ideas and journalism with people from all over the world and getting to know the scholars as individual people and seeing the scholars getting to know each other. Everyone leaves here with a clear understanding that people are people are people,” Rogus said. “Some of the scholars come together and in their home countries that person sitting next to them would be their enemy. But it’s hard to call someone your enemy when you’ve gotten to know the person. … That kind of understanding is invaluable, and these are the people who are passing that on to the future journalists in their countries.”

The scholars will be leaving Athens later this week and traveling to Washington, D.C., where they will attend the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention before leaving for their home countries on Aug. 16. But their SUSI experience likely won’t stop there.

“One of the State Department’s goals is that this is an ongoing relationship,” Rogus explained. “We have contact with scholars from all four years of the program. We may be helping them to edit a paper. ... The scholars themselves are collaborating on research projects. …. So this relationship and the State Department’s vision of a global community of communication scholars is absolutely happening. And that’s an amazing thing to see the growth of this group that gets larger and larger through this shared experience and through Ohio University as sort of the core center of that global group. That’s pretty special.”

That global community of communication scholars will continue to grow as Ohio University has received approval from the State Department to host the SUSI program for the next two years.

“This is another piece in the growing international profile that Ohio University has,” explained Rogus. “The School of Journalism in particular has had an international specialization focus for many, many years. Many of our other programs involved faculty members going overseas to do training, to do exchanges. This now brings the world to Ohio University in a way that not too many other programs do.”

A snapshot of the SUSI program at Ohio University

This year's Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and the Media includes scholars from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Romania, Ukraine, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This is the fourth year that Ohio University has hosted the program. In the past three years, 52 scholars have participated in the program.

According to Mary Rogus, academic director of the SUSI program at OHIO and a faculty member in the University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, less than a third of the scholars the program hosts each year are from a country that has participated in the program in the past.

"Every year we're expanding the program's global reach," she said.