Anthony Moretti: A Faculty Perspective on the Importance of Academic Seminars
Academic Seminars offered by The Washington Center benefit students by providing them with practical, firsthand educational opportunities that they may not otherwise be able to experience on their university campuses. But students are not the only beneficiaries. TWC faculty leader, Anthony Moretti offers his perspective after attending four different seminars.
TWC benefits faculty in at least three ways:
Benefit 1: Powerful Interactions
First, you interact with important speakers from the political, communications, and international communities whom you otherwise have almost no chance of meeting. Through the four TWC seminars in which I was a faculty director, I have been fortunate enough to meet multiple journalists who report from Washington, talk with ambassadors or attachés from three nations, visit the offices of a Congresswoman, and gain an appreciation for how nonprofit organizations work in the nation’s capital.
Benefit 2: Relevant Information
Second, the information relayed by the presenters at various site visits can be defined as “happening right now.” At least three journalists told the students and faculty at the 2012 Politics and the Media program about the powerful positive and negative challenges associated with social media and the national presidential campaigns. Their comments will be part of the information in my Spring 2012 classes and beyond.
Benefit 3: Real Impact
I think the most important benefit comes from seeing the personal and professional development that a young person makes in one to three weeks. Allow me to illustrate with an example:
In 2008, a former student of mine participated in the Leadership in Communications program, which allowed her to attend the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Supplementing the information she gathered from the lectures and other sessions, she also worked for The Hill. Whatever expectations she had were exceeded in spades.
She called me one night with such exuberance that she forgot to tell me who she was. (The conversation began something like this: “Anthony, oh, this is so exciting! ”) She asked me to go to The Hill’s website, where the story she had written on the eve of the Democratic National Convention was about to be posted.
She went on to tell me how much she was learning, how excited she was to be in Denver (where the DNC was taking place) and how she couldn’t believe she was doing real news for an international event. During her week in Denver and then in St. Paul (site of the RNC), she wrote five to seven pieces that ended up on the Web.
She and I returned to Pittsburgh at the conclusion of the RNC, for which I had been a faculty leader, and my wife and I drove her home from the airport. Her flight arrived a little before mine, so she spent about 30 minutes telling my wife about the interviews she had done, the stories she had written and the knowledge she had gained. At one point, my wife was convinced, my student was in tears. She was that happy.
Personal and Professional Development for Students
It’s always been my opinion that there is nothing more important in an educator’s life than giving our students the tools they need to meet their professional goals. We have an incredible ally in The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. And what we learn at the same time benefits all our students.
Anthony Moretti received his Ph. D. in mass communications at Ohio University. He is a broadcast journalism professor at Point Park University and was a former broadcast journalist for 13 years. Follow him on twitter @morettiphd.