Perspectives in Journalism

September 20, 2008

Nebraska’s educational mission in Kosovo

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 12:04 pm
Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

For the past four years, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has participated in a democracy building project in Kosovo.

Many of our faculty have lectured at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication (KIJAC). Many of our students have worked with KIJAC students on an international reporting project that focused on poverty in Kosovo.

(Friday, Sept. 19) Pristina, Kosovo- It’s been a busy couple of days in Kosovo. On Friday, Enver Hoxhaj, the Kosovo Republic’s Minister of Education, Science and Technology, told us the ministry would support the Kosovo Institute for Journalism and Communication (KIJAC) whenever it needed help.

KIJAC and the American University of Kosovo are considered to be the educational models for this newly created nation.

The minister met us at the ministry offices to discuss the current status of KIJAC in relation to the project proposal.

Among those in attendance were representatives of KIJAC, Norway’s Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and Norman Stewart, consultant to the Board of Governors of KIJAC.

Our discussion with Minister Hoxhaj centered on the process for the coming accreditation review of public institutions. The minister said workshops would be conducted in the coming months to help inform KIJAC and the University of Prishtina on the evaluation methods that will be used for the accreditation process.

KIJAC is a public institution outside the University of Pristina. It was established to be self-sustaining by 2015. By that year, it should be fully embedded in the public life of Kosovo.

Twenty-five students have earned M.A. degrees from KIJAC, and 50 more are currently enrolled. The staff includes Serbian, Albanian, British, Canadian, Dutch and United States citizens.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has invested $6.7 million to establish this institution. It has guaranteed another million dollars for each of the next two years.

We left our meeting at the ministry for a three-hour KIJAC Board of Governors meeting.  Before the meeting was called to order, Kaare Melhus was honored for his promotion to associate professor at Gimlekollen.

(Saturday, Sept. 20) Pristina, Kosovo- At breakfast today, we had more discussion on our partnership at KIJAC.  The focus was on financing and sustainability to facilitate an exit by 2015 so KIJAC can be self-sustaining.

After those discussions, we traveled to the Planet Restaurant, east of Pristina, about three kilometers from Serbia.

On the way back to KIJAC, we passed Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. military base outside the United States.  Willem Houwen said If you were to run around the base’s outer perimeter, you’d have a seven mile journey. Camp Bondsteel is located on rolling hills and farmland near the city of Ferizaj/Urosevac.  Negotiations are in progress to purchase more land adjacent to the current military base. Camp Bondsteel has the capacity to house between 40,000 and 60,000 troops.  At present only about 2,000 troops are at the base.

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As I visit Kosovo this week, I am reminded of the important mission we have been honored to be a part of at KIJAC.

The shared experiences in this partnership have improved the lives and professional journalistic commitment of all who have taken part. It is also a responsibility all the KIJAC participants have taken pride in this past year as Kosovo celebrated independence and became the world’s newest republic.

This is how KIJAC describes itself:

The aim of the KIJAC project is to build a Graduate School of Journalism over a period of 7-10 years. The school will meet European standards of higher education.

KIJAC will enable Kosovan scholars to get PhDs at international universities in order to become KIJAC professors. The glue between these modules will be provided by experienced and qualified local teaching staff.

Along the way, KIJAC has had a close relationship with journalists, press institutions and journalism training centers such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Cardiff University in Wales and Gimlekollen University in Norway.

KIJAC’s mission is to provide future journalists from Kosovo and the wider region with practical journalistic skills as well as a deep understanding of the role of media in a democratic society.

The combination of rich and diverse academic backgrounds between local and international lecturers at KIJAC provides an important intellectual agent that assists enormously in broadening the views of KIJAC students on global and local roles of the media, professional trends and current academic developments.

Funding for the launch of KIJAC were  provided by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affair.

Below you will find some photos of the KIJAC Board meeting, celebrating KIJAC graduations and a meeting with Enver Hoxhaj, Kosovo’s Minister of Education, Science and Technology.

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