Medill expands global opportunities with programs in France, China

AnnMarie Hilton, Reporter

Medill will expand its international reach through new programming in Europe and Asia focusing on contemporary topics from the Syrian refugee crisis to media branding in the Chinese market.

After a Spring Quarter class about the global refugee crisis, 10 undergraduate students — to be chosen from 75 applicants — will travel to Paris in June with Medill Profs. Peter Slevin and Sarahmaria Gomez.

“The idea behind the trip and the class is to put students in the middle of an important story,” Slevin said. “In this case, the crisis of refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq.”

The students will use both writing and multimedia skills to investigate and report on the crisis, Slevin said.

The 10 graduate students taking the same course will travel to the University of Hamburg in Germany and St. Petersburg State University in Russia.

During the course, students will assess the origin of the refugee crisis and the path refugees are now taking into Europe. Additionally, they will look at the response from nongovernmental organizations, government institutions and the general public, Slevin said.

“It’s a chance to dig deeply into an issue that matters now, and actually will matter for a long time,” he said.

Paris is a prime location for students to immerse themselves in the action of the issue, Slevin said, because of concerns that it and other European cities are unable accommodate the large number of refugees entering their borders. Because this issue also affects politics in the United States, it is an important topic for Medill students to observe firsthand, he said.

“My hope is that students will not only learn to cover a complicated story on the ground, but that they will learn the importance of becoming smart about the issue before they ever arrive,” Slevin said.

Since the program is still in the beginning stages, Slevin said he is unsure what its future will look like after this year and added that Medill is taking it one step at a time.

“It’s so important for Medill students to get out of the classroom, to get away from campus and to experience stories for themselves,” Slevin said. “This is such a valuable chance for that to happen on an issue that really matters. This is a chance for them to see for themselves.”

In addition to the Paris program, Medill will offer a new Media and Integrated Marketing Communications in China course this summer.

Medill is working with Office of International Program Development because the office already has a program at Peking University in China, said Kathleen Lee, Medill’s assistant director for external programs. The application process is still open, and Lee said they will have more flexibility with the number of students who can go based on the number of applicants because of the University’s existing relationship with Peking University.

After going to Israel with Medill, Elizabeth Kim said she joined the Medill Undergraduate Student Advisory Council to understand how global programs are developed for Medill students.

“It’s really great because global experience has really broadened the lens through which we journalists analyze and understand the issues around us,” the Medill junior said.

As most people are connected by social media today, Kim said, it is essential for journalists to learn the skills to both report for a local audience as well as a global one. She added it is timely and pertinent for Medill students to study the refugee crisis in Paris this spring.

“It is a critical issue that journalists all over the world have to report about, and I think it is amazing that Medill is offering this program for undergraduates,” Kim said.

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