Initial planning for a conflict reporting class for USC and CSJMM students

Gaby Peschiera-Carl, assistant director of Study Abroad at USC, conversing with us in Tbilisi via Skype.

One of the objectives of the “Journalism School Partnership Program” grant is to initiate student exchanges between the University of South Carolina (USC) and the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management (CSJMM). In order to fulfill this objective, we need to identify subject matter that USC students could learn in Tbilisi, Georgia, that they could not learn at USC. Ideally, USC students would be able to learn this subject matter better in Tbilisi than in any other city in the world. That’s a tall order. But we have an idea–conflict reporting. There are four conflict zones within a 1-day drive of Tbilisi: conflicts between Abkhazia and Georgia, South Ossetia and Georgia, Armenia and Turkey, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. Most important, students can safely approach one side of the conflicts and talk with people on that side.

The course we are imagining would differ from “standard” courses in a few ways. One, instead of studying with Americans, USC students will study with Georgian students. The opportunities for cross-cultural interaction will be high both inside and outside the classroom. Two, instead of learning from one professor, students will converse with multiple experts. The Institute of War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) and CSJMM have good connections with reporters as well as with citizen bloggers. Three, instead of studying inside a classroom most of the week and traveling on weekends, USC and CSJMM students will go on frequent field trips as part of their course.

Baadur Koplatadze, dean of CSJMM and Beka Bajelidze, region director of IWPR, will begin working on a syllabus and lesson plans. They also will begin to develop a budget. We need to provide housing and transportation for 10-16 USC students for 4-5 weeks. We also need to calculate the costs of the field trips. Meanwhile, assistant director of Study Abroad at USC, Gaby Peschiera-Carl, will guide us through the process of creating a new study abroad course.

We began with a Skype conference call. If you have any suggestions, email Keith Kenney at or comment on the blog.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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