Two weeks ago, I was invited to travel to Washington, DC as Spelman College’s representative at the Pulitzer Center’s College Consortium. Per the Pulitzer Center’s website, the College Consortium is “A growing network of two- and four-year institutions are bringing insight and immediacy to their courses through our Campus Consortium initiative via fresh-from-the-field insights by Pulitzer Center journalists. Our partnerships offer a cross-disciplinary approach to issues of the day and provide students opportunities for their own international investigations.” Directly, the center connects with partner colleges throughout the country to organize campus visits with select journalists, a reporting fellowship offered to a student interested in international crisis reporting, and access to lesson builders and other educational resources.
Among other activities including a dinner at the Cosmos Club where I met other student reporters who conducted research on international issues in nations such as Afghanistan, Mexico, and the Congo, at the conference, I attended panel discussions including the Engaging Students Panel: Finding a Global Perspective and the Campus Consortium. Each panel held at the National Press Club provided an opportunity to hear the thoughts of classroom leaders and innovators who have worked with the center to enrich student activities and further the reach of their pedagogy.
I was most interested in a photo journalism project Latisha Coleman, principal of Inspired Teaching Middle School in Washington, D.C., developed with her students. The budding photographer took to the streets of D.C. to take pictures of a changing landscape caught in the middle of mixed emotions about gentrification and the displacement of current residents. I do similar work with my journalism students at Spelman, encouraging them to record changes taking place in the West End of Atlanta, home to the historic Atlanta University Center that connects curricular developments for students at Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.
Following the panels, I was able to speak with Fareed Mostoufi, the Pulitzer Center’s senior education manager, about journalism course offerings at Spelman and how we could make use of classroom tools available through the College Consortium. I look forward to connecting with both Mostoufi and Coleman to combine efforts and perhaps develop activities where students at Spelman and Inspired Teaching Middle School can interact, sharing the results of their photo journals in real time using social media.
Leaving the wondrous and enlightening affair, which also celebrated the Pulitzer Center’s tenth anniversary, I considered how through best practice we could connect the needs of journalism students at Spelman with the tools available through the College Consortium. Spelman College, the top Historic Black College/University and one of only a handful of colleges/universities educating women in the nation, is the first HBCU, followed by Morehouse, to join the College Consortium. As such, we will need to think deeply about our unique student body, their needs, interests and values and how that best matches what’s available through the College Consortium.