College of Communication and Information Extends its Reach

KNOXVILLE –- The UT College of Communication and Information is creating partnerships around the world to help its students learn more about working with people from other cultures.

The college has participated in student exchange programs in Denmark and the Netherlands since 1992. Relationships recently have been formalized with universities in Puerto Rico and Jordan.

Students and faculty in the School of Information Sciences will see the fruits of one of those new partnerships next week when representatives from The University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technologies visit UT. The two universities will hold a symposium Oct. 30-31 at the University Center Shiloh Room to discuss intercultural awareness and leadership, democracy and diversity, and the communication and information process.

The School of Information Sciences is one of four schools that make up UT’s College of Communication and Information. The others are the School of Advertising and Public Relations, the School of Communication Studies and the School of Journalism and Electronic Media.

At the symposium, funded by UT’s Ready for the World initiative, faculty and 50 undergraduate students will begin developing a “toolkit” for international and intercultural awareness.

Professor Edwin Cortez, director of the School of Information Sciences, said the toolkit will include readings, vocabularies, inventories and other activities meant to increase students’ familiarity with other cultures. Once the toolkit is finished, it will serve as a model to provide leadership development for students, faculty and professionals.

“The end questions to be addressed in the symposium include: What do we mean by leadership? What do we mean by leadership in the intercultural context? How can leadership play itself out in formal and informal settings? How do notions of leadership change in the information age?” Cortez said.

Jose Aponte, director of the San Diego Public Library, will deliver the symposium’s keynote address at 9 a.m. on Oct. 30 in the Shiloh Room. Aponte, who holds a White House appointment to the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries Advisory Council, will discuss new leadership paradigms in the Information Age and how leadership must evolve to keep pace with a dynamic information environment in a more multicultural world.

Each school within the College of Communication and Information is developing its own international initiatives as a part of the new Internationalization and Outreach Program.

“Creating these international and intercultural initiatives is one of our top priorities,” said Professor Sam Swan, interim director of the Internationalization and Outreach Program.

“We hope to internationalize the curriculum and increase the number of our students who are participating in study abroad programs.”

Swan said the college is seeking additional funding through every available resource, including grants and contracts, to increase faculty funded research, training and partnerships with international universities.

The college already has started a five-year program through a $1.2 million grant from the International Research and Exchanges Board in Washington, D.C. As a part of the grant, Professor Swan will work to strengthen journalism education in Jordan. In addition to conducting training workshops for faculty and students in Jordan, Swan will help to build a student radio station, television news facility, and a student newspaper.

In September 2004, the School of Information Sciences established a partnership with the East African School of Library and Information Sciences (EASLIS) at Makerere University. The College of Communication and Information is also establishing a partnership with a university in Croatia.

More information on the Intercultural Symposium is available at http://www.sis.utk.edu/programs/toolkit.


Contacts:
April Moore, (865) 974-0463, amoore9@utk.edu
Joel Southern, (865) 974-6727, jsouthern@utk.edu


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