Colleges offer unique courses

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Many universities around the country offer students special courses each semester that provide unique and unforgettable experiences.

The George Washington University, American University and Howard University join forces each spring to provide students with the Washington Post Semester seminar.

Athelia Knight, director of The Post’s Young Journalists Development Project is the coordinator and instructor for this course. Students go to the Washington Post headquarters everyFriday to discuss ethics, story ideas and even jobs with top editors and reporters.

“The Washington Post semester was great because we got to hear directly from the people at the top of their field and ask them questions about their work and about their techniques for writing and reporting,” said Elspeth Weingarten, a journalism graduate from the GWU.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, Ombudsman at National Public Radio is teaching a course called News Media Accountability and Management at the George Washington University. Such courses allow for more variety in the student’s course load. It contributes by making media studies a more profound and personal experience and prepares students for the newsroom environment.

According to Rachel Gould, a senior journalism major at the GWU, “Special topic courses gives students the opportunity to work with professors who are really specialized in a certain subject and they are the classes the professors really want to teach, as opposed to the sometimes tedious requirements.”

Most of these classes, especially in the media department include a lot of hands on experience and these classes also encourage students to branch out to other departments and give them a closer look into how the media really functions.

Introduction to Washington Media and Politics is a team taught class at the GWU by Jean Folkerts, Associate Vice President for Special Academic Initiative and Professor of Media and Public Affairs, Michael Freedman, Vice President for Communications and Professorial Lecturer for MPA and Heather Clapp Date, coordinate producer for CNN’s Crossfire and teaching assistant for the course. Students participate in the Crossfire audience and get the opportunity to be a part of the discussions after the show.

“This course explores Washington media and politics through the lens of public affairs television programs. It provides a nice bridge between the academic experience and the real world,” said Date.

Laura Cavender, director of Media Relations at Georgetown University said, “It’s great when students have the opportunity to come in contact with real life practitioners because the professionals bring in a perspective that is important for students.”

These courses allow students to learn directly from professionals working in the field and to gather advice from them. These professionals not only guide students but they also serve as mentors that students aspire to be like.

The American University offers a number of special topic courses. Some of which are taught by adjuncts and most by fulltime faculty. Every spring semester, AU offers a class in sports journalism that is usually taught by an adjunct. Wendell Cochran, Division Director for the journalism department at AU sometimes teaches a class in Business and Economic Journalism or In-depth Journalism.

“A class in a special topic gives students the opportunity to explore a subject in more depth and detail than is possible in other, more general classes,” said Cochran.

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