Medill JOURneys replace annual global reporting class


Photo courtesy of Anika Patel

Students in Prof. Hopgood’s JOURney pose for a picture in San Francisco. The group traveled to San Francisco Feb. 10 to 14 as part of the class.

Joanne Haner, Assistant Photo Editor

When the pandemic halted global travel for JOUR 301: Journalism in Practice classes, the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications had to adapt.

The journalism school opted to restructure the program with domestic travel, offering a selection of “JOURneys” classes this winter and spring. Medill has historically offered global reporting opportunities as early as students’ sophomore year. These classes typically run during the Winter and Spring Quarters, allowing undergraduate students to travel abroad for a reporting trip during Spring Break.

Past global cohorts have traveled to China, Israel, Cuba and England. This year, JOURneys have domestic destinations like Wisconsin, Michigan, New York City and San Francisco. JOUR 301 is a required class for journalism majors, but JOURneys courses can also count as a 300-level journalism elective. This allows upperclassmen who missed out on global trips another chance to travel with Medill. 

“Being able to host forums safely overseas was not something we were confident we’d be able to do in the winter and spring,” said Kathleen Lee, Medill’s director of external projects and programs. 

Due to the reimagined travel component, Lee said Medill was able to offer more undergraduate short-term abroad programs than they have in the past. This year, there are seven JOURneys cohorts, while there may have been five global programs in past years. 

Medill Prof. Mei-Ling Hopgood has previously taught global programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. This winter, she is teaching a JOURney course titled “Exploring Asian American Stories,” a class centered on stories, culture, food and family ties in Asian communities, with a trip to San Francisco. 

“This year is different, not because of just the domestic part, but because of all the instability we have had to cope with,” Hopgood said. “The questions about how you teach a class plus integrate a meaningful trip has been complicated because we don’t know how things look on the ground where we’re going.” 

Hopgood said inability to plan ahead made course planning more difficult. One of the topics her class focuses on is food as a part of culture. When planning the trip, she said she wasn’t sure where they would be able to eat due to local COVID-19 regulations. 

Medill sophomore Michelle Hong, who is enrolled in Hopgood’s JOURney this quarter, said she was worried the trip would be delayed or canceled. 

“The whole class is concerned and trying to stay cognizant about trying to stay safe (COVID-wise) in this neighborhood and trying our best to not cause issues in another community,” Hong said. 

According to Lee, this year’s JOURneys must follow NU’s COVID-19 travel protocol, which requires following appropriate masking and social distancing guidelines. This, in addition to the University’s high vaccination rate, she said, has allowed them to continue with these travel programs. 

Lee said the future of JOURneys and Medill’s global courses has yet to be decided. For the time being, Medill and its professors are learning to operate under current circumstances. 

“We’re really trying to give students experiences that they have been missing over the last couple years,” Hopgood said. 

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Twitter: @joanne_n_h

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