Five Professors from Kazakhstan Discuss U.S. and Romainian Journalism Education

Five Kazakhstani journalism professors from four different universities in the Asian country talked about models of journalism education and techniques for teaching journalism during a one-day program at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in February.

The five, representing East Kazakhstan State University, Kostanay State University, Karaganda State University, and North Kazakhstan State University, were completing a three-week tour of the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State when they visited the Grady College. They were hosted at the University of Georgia by the Cox Center.

Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker and Cox Center Research Scientist Dr. Tudor Vlad talked with the group about journalism curricula and differing approaches to teaching journalism. Dr. Becker directs a research program on U.S. journalism education; Dr. Vlad is on leave as director of the School of Journalism at Babes-Bolyai in Romania.

Dr. Vlad told the group that he explored several curricular options for his university when he began developing its journalism curriculum after the fall of communism at the beginning of the 1990s. He said he settled on a largely American model for a number of reasons. One of the most important was that the students demanded it.

"The students wanted to be trained for jobs in advertising and public relations, which had not existed in the communist system," Dr. Vlad said. "We looked at the American model as a way of offering these types of classes."

Dr. Becker stressed with the group that journalism instruction in the United States is oriented around actual practice. "Students engaged in projects and participate in exercises that simulate the work environment," he said. "We believe in learning by doing."

The journalism professors talked with Dr. Kent Middleton, head of the Department of Journalism in the Grady College, and Dr. Dean Krugman, head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Each reviewed the curricula and teaching techniques used in those departments.

To see journalism instruction in action, the five observed a class on magazine journalism taught by Dr. Leara Rhodes.

The Kazakhstani professors also toured the facilities of the Grady College and the central campus of the University. They ended the day with a visit to the independent student daily, The Red & Black.

"It was a real pleasure to host this group," Dr. Becker said. "They really were interested in considering differing ways to teach journalism. We learned a great deal from them as well. I look forward to continued contact with them as they develop their curricula."

The group also visited American University in Washington, Loyola University in New Orleans, the University of Missouri in Columbia, and Georgia State University as part of the tour, organized by the International Visitors Program at the State Department.