Team from Cox Center Meets with Students, Faculty During Month-Long Visit to Ethiopia's Unity College

A team from the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research worked with faculty and students of Ethiopia's Unity College during a month-long stay in Addis Ababa, the country's capital, in May and June in an effort to help the college strengthen its journalism curriculum.

Dr. Elizabeth Lester Roushanzamir and Dr. Melinda Robins also conducted a three-day workshop on visual communication for communication professionals as part of the visit. Twelve persons, most of them from Ethiopian Television, participated in the workshop, offered as an extension course by Unity College.

Dr. Roushanzamir is a faculty member in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. Dr. Robins is on the faculty in the Department of Journalism at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Drs. Roushanzamir and Robins, along with Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker, are engaged in a two-year project to assist Unity College, the first independent institution of higher education in Ethiopia, in the development its Department of Journalism and Communication.

The project is funded in part by a grant to the Cox Center from the Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development.

Drs. Roushanzamir and Robins met with Unity College administrators during their month in Addis Ababa to assist Unity in making application for funding from outside sources for support of the journalism program. The department needs such basic resources as library materials and computer equipment as well as additional visiting lectures and consultants.

The three full-time faculty members in the Journalism and Communication Department have prepared a document outlining the department's current objectives, courses of instruction and desired outcomes. The U.S. visitors reviewed the document and offered advice.

The team noted some redundancies in the course offerings and suggested streamlining the curriculum and renaming some of the courses to better reflect the content and to show how each course fits into the overall curriculum.

Drs. Roushanzamir and Robins recommended that the department focus its curriculum on four areas: (1) conceptual courses covering media history, media law and ethics, and developmental communication, (2) essential skills, such as basic media writing and use of libraries and other documents, (3) advanced skills, such as specialized reporting and production of broadcast news, and (4) specialized areas, such as visual communication and advertising and public relations.

The team identified one general weakness with the course syllabi, namely the lack of week-by-week breakdowns of topics covered, and suggested that the faculty develop such week-by-week outlines of their courses.

"We suggest that such an exercise would enable faculty to better organize content and eliminate redundancies, as well as provide a useful document for new faculty," Dr. Roushanzamir said.

The team met in an informal session with the three full-time journalism and communication faculty and two part-time instructors discuss student-centered learning. The pair offered some strategies for preparing students for class discussions and guiding classroom discussions.

Dr. Roushanzamir was part of a Cox Center team that visited Unity College in February of 2000, as Unity was launching its journalism program, to discuss student-centered instructional techniques. The team also assisted with curricular development during that visit.

During the month in Addis, Dr. Robins gave lectures and led discussions in ongoing classes in the Journalism and Communication Department on basics of news reporting and writing and the basics of interviewing. Dr. Roushanzamir taught classes on the basics of design and on copy writing for advertising.

Drs. Robins and Roushanzamir met with Yikirta Alemu, the Information Technology Project Director at Unity College, to discuss development of an online news site for the Journalism and Communication Department. Development of such a site could provide students in the department with an outlet for their work.

While departmental involvement in such a site is limited by a lack of departmental computer resources, the team recommended continued exploration of collaboration with the IT project leaders.

The three-day short course taught by Drs. Roushanzamir and Robins focused on communication with text and visuals and the basics of design and layout. Professionals from Ethiopian Television and two members of Unity's Graphic design Department learned to apply the principles of integrating verbal and visual elements in a variety of media, such as newspapers, magazines and television. The instruction focused on graphics for news, advertising and public relations.

Dr. Robins has traveled and worked extensively in Africa. She worked as a newspaper journalist and a government public information specialist before earning her doctorate in the Grady College at the University of Georgia. Her dissertation work in Tanzania was supported by the Cox Center.

Dr. Roushanzamir, also a specialist on Africa, has worked in advertising and book publishing. She was part of a three-person Cox Center team that helped Unity College faculty develop student-centered instruction in a workshop in 2000.

Drs. Roushanzamir and Robins, with Dr. Becker, director of the Cox Center, conducted a workshop on management for Ethiopian Television newsroom personnel in January of 2002.