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The CommDev Newsletter

Comm Dev Program Celebrating 25th Year Anniversary

With the end of this past academic year, the Communication and Development Studies program at Ohio University completed its 25th year. To celebrate this occasion, Comm Dev students and faculty, along with former directors of the program, are holding a day-long event at Ohio University on Friday, October 26th. The event will include various Comm Dev-related panels and discussions, a keynote speaker, and a party at the end of the day. The Comm Dev celebration will segue into The Global Fusion Conference, which is now in its 10th year and typically attended by a number of Comm Dev graduates. On top of all that, these events will be held during Halloween weekend in Athens.

A range of activities are scheduled for the day, including panels reflective of the diversity of the career paths of Comm Dev alumni, and an interactive session where students and alumni will share information about their own work. The keynote speech at the end of the day will bridge the Comm Dev celebration with the Global Fusion conference, which will begin on Saturday morning. The keynote speech will be given by Carolyn Davis, who graduated from the Comm Dev program in 1998. Carolyn is currently on the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she writes her weekly "Without Borders" column. The columns are often reflective of Comm Dev types of issues. Among other things, Carolyn has occasionally left journalism over the years to do humanitarian relief work in Cambodia, Rwanda and the Balkans, where she managed a refugee camp during the Kosovo crisis. For more information about the day’s events, please contact the Comm Dev Program Director, Dr. Lawrence Wood, at WoodL@ohio.edu.

For detailed information about the events schedule please view this PDF .

UNICEF C4D Workshop at Ohio University

For the second year in a row, Ohio University has partnered with UNICEF for a nine-month blended-learning course on Communication for Development (C4D). The course begins with three online modules focusing on issues such as values and concepts in C4D; social change theory; and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). The online training portion of the course is followed by a face-to-face workshop on the Ohio University campus. The workshop brings UNICEF staff members from all over the world to campus for two weeks of intensive learning, where, among other things, C4D concepts are applied in practice when UNICEF staff members work with community-based organizations in and around Athens, Ohio.

UNICEF was created by the United Nations after World War II to provide assistance to children throughout the world, particularly to those confronted by food, clothing, health care, and related needs. The blended-learning course has its roots in Ohio University’s Communication and Development Studies master’s program (Comm Dev), and was developed and organized by a number of faculty members currently and historically involved with the program. Current Comm Dev graduate students provide various elements of support to the program. Demand among UNICEF staff workers to enroll in the online training course has been high and continues to grow, speaking to the ever-increasing relevance of C4D in the field of international development.

Comm Dev Students Attend Media That Matters Conference

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Comm Dev students take a break for a picture at the Media That Matters Conference

A group of first and second year Comm Dev students recently attended the “Media that Matters” conference held in Washington D.C. This year’s conference theme centered around filmmakers whose work focuses on affecting positive, sustainable social change. The conference was sponsored by the Center of Social Media, which is housed in American University’s School of Communication.

According to Claudia Nieto, a first-year Comm Dev student from Columbia who attended, “The conference was great in that it included many experienced professionals who presented insights, strategies, and examples of media for social change. There were a lot of visual examples of the speakers’ work combined with interaction with the audience. Many of the Comm Dev students who attended left with new creative ideas, including possible different pathways for projects.”

Panel themes often involved exploring current strategies in relation to various areas of creating and sharing media for social change, including in relation to online content, such as webisodes; fundraising via social media, also known as crowd funding; and opportunities in relation to different media genres, such as the use of fiction, rather than documentaries, to educate audiences about health issues such as HIV/AIDS.

According to Claudia, “Many of the ideas presented during the panels, and discussions that we had with people attending the conference, may result in new ideas or projects, and possible collaborations for Comm Dev students in the future.”

Second Year Comm Dev Student Completes Internship with VOA Khmer Service

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Borei Sylyvann poses for a picture while working with Voice of America’s Khmer service

Borei Sylyvann, a second year Comm Dev student and Fulbright Scholar, recently returned to Athens, Ohio, after completing a five-month internship in Washington, DC, with Voice of America’s Khmer service.

According to Sylyvann, he was able to make the internship connection through a former Ohio University student that works for Voice of America (VOA), as well as through having experience and related qualifications in TV production, a skill that VOA is currently looking for to enhance its newly created TV production unit.

As the official external broadcast institution of the U.S. Federal Government, VOA offers a wide range of programming outside the U.S., including in more than 40 languages. It provides content for radio and TV broadcast, as well as over the Internet. VOA Khmer first went on air in the 1950s.

The first task Sylyvann was assigned was to translate and record news. “I started out by translating news stories, both hot and feature stories, as well as local and international news, and recorded and edited these stories for broadcast. Later I was assigned to work on VOA 60, a 60 second wrap-up of international news video for TV and the Internet. I translated the headlines of the news, edited the news video using Final Cut Pro, and uploaded the final product on VOA’s website. I also sometimes went out to shoot footage for VOA TV news,” said Sylyvann.

In reflecting upon his experience Sylyvann noted, “In five months with VOA, I had an opportunity to expand not only my career development, but also my capacity development as a media practitioner. My experience with VOA was tremendous.” After he graduates this year, Sylyvann says he may return to work full-time with VOA, either in Cambodia or in Washington DC.

Comm Dev Students Continue the Tradition of Hosting Local Radio Show

This past fall, Communication and Development Studies graduate students continued the tradition of hosting shows on WOUB’s Conversation from Studio B series. WOUB is the public radio station managed at Ohio University.

When evaluating his options for fulfilling his Comm Dev service learning requirement, it didn’t take Brian Woods long to decide what he wanted to do. “It had been a while since I worked in radio. It felt like this would be a safe environment to wade back into those waters.”

Brian hosted four shows during the fall quarter. His initial show focused on having some Ohio University international students share thoughts with the local Athens audience their ideas about what they saw as similarities and differences between their home countries and the community here in Athens. Brian’s next show focused on the US Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary. “I served as a PCV, and I really wanted to share with people how great an experience it was.” Brian’s guests included the regional recruiter for Peace Corps and return volunteers from Africa and Eastern Europe.

The third show is the one of which I am the proudest,” he says. That show invited members of the OU community who were from post-Soviet countries to reflect on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. “There was this great moment when Miks [Muizarajs] from Latvia talked about how his sister was part of the ‘Pampers generation’ because they were the first kids to wear disposable diapers.” Brian’s fourth show focused on the work OU students were doing with the Tropical Disease Institute in Ecuador. “Every year students travel there to help with chagas disease, a big problem. I really wanted to help share with the listeners the kind of work their university’s students were doing.”

“There were some rough patches doing the show, but mostly it was a great experience. I am against preinterviewing guests, so what listeners heard on the radio was our actual conversation. Of course in true Comm Dev spirit, I only consider myself the facilitator for these conversations. The real reason the shows were successful was because of the openness of my guests” said Woods. The remainder of this year, Comm Dev students Rashmi Sharma and Jascene Dunkley will host a number of shows for the series.

CommDev Student is Awarded Scholarship to Participate in International Entertainment Education Conference

Huyen Tran Dieu, a second year CommDev student from Vietnam, received a competitively awarded, $1,500 scholarship to participate in the 5th International Entertainment Education Conference (EE5). The conference’s scholarship program is designed to promote and support upcoming voices in the field of entertainment education. The conference will be held from November 17-20th, 2011, in New Delhi, India.

EE5 will draw communication practitioners, public health professionals, artists and entertainers from around the world who are interested in using entertainment education to promote social change. Combining the appeal of entertainment with the power of education, EE programs are designed to influence positive behavior and to change lives. EE efforts can range from incorporating oral communication traditions such as song, dance, drama, and storytelling with mass media, to promoting EE through the use of new media technologies. Participants from around the world will come together at EE5 to share best practices, innovations, conduct hands on participatory learning, and explore new techniques to improve effectiveness.

2011 marks the 25th year since the beginning of the EE movement as a distinct discipline of study. EE’s first conference took place in California in 1989. It was followed with international conferences held in Holland, South Africa, and the United States, with this year’s conference held in New Delhi, India. The EE5 conference theme focuses on tackling social and health issues related to the highly susceptible populations of women and children. The conference is being organized by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs; the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Department of Communication, and the Social Justice Initiative (SJI); and Hollywood, Health and Society.

CommDev Students Present at Global Fusion Conference; Former Com Dev Student wins Paper Award


Brian Woods and Rashmi Sharma prior to the start of Global Fusion panel session titled Participation, Power, and Possibilities in Today’s Mediated World.

In mid-October, CommDev students David Bruggink, Rashmi Sharma, Liliana Acevedo Callejas and Brian Woods participated on a panel session at the Global Fusion Conference, which was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The panel session was titled Participation, Power, and Possibilities in Today’s Mediated World.

Each panel member explored the various opportunities and challenges presented by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in relation to development. For example, David Bruggink’s presentation, titled Participatory Video Approaches to HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaigns in China, evaluated the use of participatory video in HIV/AIDS prevention in China. Rashmi Sharma’s presentation, titled ICTS and Development in Himalayan Mountain Communities, considered the obstacles to information sharing between institutional entities operating in the Trans-Himalayan areas of India, Nepal, Bhutan and China. Acevedo Callejas’ presentation assessed the role of ICTs in the exercise of citizenship, while Brian Wood’s presentation examined the role of ICTs in the recent Middle East uprisings.

Also of note, former CommDev student David Conrad (graduated spring, 2011), was the runner up in the conference’s student paper competition. David is currently enrolled in the PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. His paper was based upon the thesis that he completed for his CommDev degree.

For more than a decade, the purpose of the Global Fusion Conference has been to promote academic excellence in global media communication. The conference is sponsored by a consortium of five universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Ohio University, Southern Illinois University, and Temple University. This year’s conference co-organizers were Dr. Nancy Morris and Dr. Patrick Murphy. Dr. Murphy is a former CommDev student, and he is currently the Chair of the Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media at Temple University.

Comm Dev Student David Bruggink Documents Water Provision Project in Indonesia

Recently, Comm Dev student David Bruggink (2012) had a unique opportunity to gain experience as a documentary filmmaker. He was hired by ECO-Asia, an environmental development project funded by USAID and based in Bangkok, to produce a video about one of their primary development focuses: water and sanitation.

The provision of clean water for the poor is only one major effort put forth by ECO-Asia, which works in a number of Asian countries, including India, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. David spent most of his time working in Indonesia, primarily in Jakarta with an environmental NGO called SPEAK, which, along with several water provision companies, helped him to interact with people who were positively impacted by the services provided by ECO-Asia.

“It was great to be able to document a situation where you could tell people were grateful for the change in their lives,” said David of filmmaking in cities and remote villages in Indonesia. David will graduate in the spring of 2012, and he hopes to find a position that allows him to work in film production or editing. “The role of visual media in changing people’s lives is what draws me to the field,” said David.





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