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Grant secured for Ukraine production program

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 1, 2004) -- An innovative multimedia production program in Ukraine will become a reality this fall at Ohio University after being one of only four out of 102 proposals focusing on Eurasia (Central and Eastern Europe and Western Asia) approved for funding by the United States State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.

The partnership between Ohio University and the National University of Kyiv: Mohyla Academy has been funded in the amount of $247,000. The program seeks to train and develop curriculum in television production to promote free and independent media in Ukraine, part of the former Soviet Union in Eurasia.

As part of the project, Ohio University will welcome three Kyiv faculty members each fall. The first three will arrive in Athens in October to participate in video and multimedia production and editing classes within the School of Telecommunications. During winter and spring quarters, one faculty member from Ohio will journey to the university in Ukraine to assist in implementing what the three Ukrainian faculty members have learned into their curriculum. During the grant period, the international faculty members will receive more advanced training in areas such as distribution, marketing and management.

In addition, weeklong workshops in Kyiv will be conducted each summer for working professionals in Kyiv and several outlying cities. These workshops will focus on incorporating advanced television skills into news gathering and documentary projects. Vendors with whom the School of Telecommunications works in the United States will have advanced systems of news gathering, such as digital cameras and editing equipment, available to workshop participants in Eastern Europe.

"This is a highly valued arrangement from the point of view of both universities," Ohio University Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Studies (ITS) Don Flournoy said. "For us, it gets our faculty in the field. The School of Telecommunications is probably the most international of all schools on our campus, as all of our faculty have international experience. For the University of Kyiv, projects like this help to build relationships to introduce more hands-on, practical curriculum there."

Flournoy reports that there are several College of Communication alumni working in the industry in Ukraine who have agreed to assist in curriculum development, teaching and workshop participation. He also is pleased to be involved in the program, and believes it was funded because of the ITS' successful history of international aid programs. Since 1992, the Institute has completed five major training and development projects related to the democratization of media in places such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Together, these projects represent more than one million dollars in funding from various sources.

"One of the reasons Ohio University was chosen was that there is a great need for the kind of media training and production skills that use new digital technology in Eurasia and Ohio has the reputation to make it possible to provide such training," Flournoy said.

Also in the works is a cooperative online course that will be taught simultaneously in Kyiv and Athens. Students will work on the same kinds of assignments and will work with each other via the Internet and possibly satellite. As Flournoy states, a secondary objective of the project is to make telecommunications students and faculty better at online communications for purposes of research. An added element of the project is an evaluation component that will aid the ITS in executing later programs.

Director Karen Riggs is thrilled by news of the grant, calling the project "a logical extension of the kind of work the faculty has long been involved in and one that is helping the developing world become competitive.

"Don Flournoy is progressive and has a forward thinking perspective on developing media and technology that inspires other faculty, staff and students to move ahead," she said.

Greg Shepherd, interim dean of the College of Communication, is pleased that the college's programs are making an international impact.

"Professor Flournoy has done outstanding work in landing this grant for the School of Telecommunications and the College," he said. "The international flavor of our programs throughout the College is a hallmark of our excellence. I am thrilled for professor Flournoy and the faculty and students this will benefit."

At this point, both institutions' faculty are working to arrange travel plans and lodging for fall quarter.

"Since we just found out about the funding, the project is turning around quickly," Flournoy said. "Our biggest challenge is to find them housing so near fall quarter in Athens."

The University of Kyiv: Mohyla Academy was founded in the 1600s and is one of the more prestigious in Ukraine. After the three-year project's completion, the University will have not only one of the first academic offerings of television, documentary and media production in Eurasia, but also the first independent state-of-the-art production facilities. In the past, under the former Soviet Union, the only production facilities were those of television stations owned by the state.

For more information on this project and others, please visit the ITS Web site at www.tcomschool.ohiou.edu/its/.  

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Media Contact: College of Communication External Relations Coordinator Erin Roberts, (740) 593-0030 or erin.j.roberts.1@ohio.edu

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