WWU Journalism faculty, students awarded grant to work in Tunisia next fall

Western Washington University Associate Professor of Journalism Brian J. Bowe has received a $100,000 university linkage grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia to improve journalism education through an exchange with students and faculty at Western.

“Tunisia is a country that, over the last eight years, has made a stunning democratic transition,” Bowe said. “It is my belief, and the department’s belief, that a free and responsible press is at the cornerstone of a strong and healthy democracy.”

The exchange is set to take place in fall 2019. Bowe and his Journalism Department colleagues Assistant Professor Joe Gosen and Associate Professor Carolyn Nielsen will take Western journalism students to Tunisia, where they will work alongside Tunisian students and faculty from the Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l’Information (IPSI) and journalists from Tunis Afrique Press (TAP) wire service. In addition to working on journalism projects, training and curriculum, they look forward to discussions of issues of democracy and freedom of the press. Soon after, a group of Tunisian faculty and journalism students will travel to Bellingham to visit Western.

Bowe, Gosen and Nielsen are collaborating on a program that facilitates cultural exchange and understanding of journalism in international contexts. Since the Tunisian Revolution that ended in 2011, the country has developed increased legal protections for freedom of speech and widened press freedom.  

“It’s not simply of a matter of us trying to import American journalism to Tunisia,” Bowe said. “Freedom of the press is an issue that U.S. journalism students also grapple with. This is a path that we will all be walking together, in a very productive way.”

Bowe’s successful grant proposal comes on the heels of receiving a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to teach in Amman, Jordan this January. Bowe will instruct graduate students at the University of Jordan for five months through the university’s American Studies program.

Bowe’s biggest goal for his project in Tunisia is to build lasting relationships between Western’s Journalism Department and Tunisian journalists. Moving forward, Bowe hopes to continue to provide international experiences and opportunities to his students.

“I feel that this program is really consistent with the university’s stated goal to internationalize our curricula,” Bowe said. “Personally, this is a huge goal of mine also. I want to help students experience the ways that journalism is practiced in other places.”    

IPSI is one of the oldest higher education institutions in Tunisia, and the only Tunisian public institution responsible for the training of information and communication professionals.  TAP was established in 1961 and is the largest employer of journalists in Tunisia.

For more information on this project, contact Bowe at brianj.bowe@wwu.edu