The BGSU community’s generosity was experienced by students and faculty in Tunisia last month when a bounty of donated books arrived on their campus.
About 20 boxes of English-language books given by BGSU faculty, staff and students were delivered by the U.S. Embassy to the Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information (IPSI) at the Université de la Manouba in Tunis. IPSI and BGSU are partners in the U.S. State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a two-year, grant-funded project designed to improve the teaching of media and journalism in Tunisia and the North African region.
The arrival of the books coincided with a visit from Dr. Catherine Cassara, journalism; Bob Bortel, director of student publications, and sophomore journalism majors Joshua Comer of Tiffin and Stephanie Guigou of New Knoxville. They spent three weeks conducting workshops for IPSI students and attending the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, held Nov. 16-18.
The first, two-day workshop, which focused on coverage of the summit and how to conduct investigative reporting, was also taught by Dr. Laura Lengel, interpersonal communication. The second, weeklong workshop dealt with student newspapers.
Dr. Hamida El Bour, the IPSI faculty member who received the MEPI grant for the student newspaper project, said of the donation, “The topics of the books will be helpful for the students of both specialties—journalism and communication—and many of them will be referred to as main sources in preparing fourth-year students' theses. It is also interesting because it is improving our library books in English, as the main books we have are in Arabic and French. The books will be very helpful for the teachers, too, in their curriculum and research in the fields of journalism and communication.”
Titled “Capacity Building for a Democratic Press: A Sustainable Partnership to Develop Media and Journalism Curricula in Tunisia,” the MEPI project has already resulted in several extended visits between BGSU and IPSI faculty and students. It has also produced a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence award to BGSU’s School of Communication Studies for Dr. Fatma Azzouz, an assistant professor of journalism at IPSI and the Tunisian partnership director for the collaboration.
Also during the visit, Lengel and Cassara presented at the U.N. summit, which brought together heads of state, industry leaders and members of civil society organizations to analyze the problems of the digital divide and information access and flow, particularly in developing nations.
The two BGSU faculty members were part of a panel of faculty from IPSI that focused on online media and journalism teaching in international contexts.
Cassara, Lengel and their IPSI colleagues and alumni also attended the opening plenary session addressed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.