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The Educated Observer - Fall 2010

The Educated Observer - Fall 2010

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special advertising supplement to the new York observer

Fall 2010

Out of the Classroom, Onto the Web
Next Step for J-School

Big Star on Campus
Child Actors Flock to NY Schools

MBA Reality Check
All Your Questions Answered The City as the Lecture Hall

Gowns on the Town

at Hofstra, I found something rare

Lisa Filippi Professor, Biology
Lisa Filippi is a biology professor with a passion for a rare Japanese insect, spending the past 20 years studying its parenting habits. As a result or her expertise, Dr. Filippi served as a consultant for the television documentary Life, which aired on BBC and the Discovery Channel, and featured some of her research.

It’s more than just a degree. It’s a superior education, a full college experience, access to state-of-the-art resources and facilities, and a network of peers and mentors. At Hofstra University, recognized by The Princeton Review’s Best Colleges and Fiske Guide, you’ll discover your strengths and nurture your talents with renowned faculty in small classes on a vibrant campus close to New York City with a worldwide network of successful alumni.

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Studying Race and Ethnicity
olumbia’s famous Core Curriculum is divisive. The collective academic experience draws many students to the university, but its content is a regular target of their ire. In April 1996 and November 2007, Columbia University students went on hunger strikes to expand Columbia’s ethnic studies and alleviate the Core of its focus on “Dead White Men.” In the past year, Columbia’s undergraduate

New multicultural programs reflect a new generation of scholars


Ethnic Studies courses and faculty have more than tripled, the result of an administrative reorganization that may sate strikers once and for all. The sudden growth reflects professor, filmmaker, and writer Frances NegrónMuntaner’s effort to help students take advantage of New York’s intellectual density. “I think academic units always feel like they could do more if they had more resources.
By Kat Stoeffel

I want to make the best use of the ones we already have,” she says. Since taking up the mantle of director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER, pronounced “Caesar”) last year, Negrón-Muntaner and her colleagues have combined several departments at Columbia and Barnard, forming a conglomerated Ethnicity and Race Studies Department. The reorganization turns the former


freshwater 2006


Latino, Asian-American and Comparative Ethnic Studies majors into specializations of the new Ethnic Studies major, and adds a specialization in Native American/ Indigenous Studies. Although the new Ethnicity and Race Studies remains separate from Columbia’s African-American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, its

students now have greater access to Barnard’s ethnicity and gender resources and “a very strong faculty on African diaspora studies, gender studies, and critical theory,” writes Negrón-Muntaner. As a result, CSER students have more than 50 courses available this fall. Although Ethnic Studies averages only 22 graduates each year, hundreds take courses within the department. CSER staple course Colonization/ Decolonization is part of Columbia’s “Global Core,” a diversity requirement added to the Core Curriculum in 2008. This year, Columbia history professor and immigration scholar Mae Ngai joins the CSER core faculty. Elsa Stamatopoulou, chief of the United Nation’s forum on indigenous issues, will join in the spring. The interdisciplinary nature of the Ethnic Studies coursework accounts for much of the department’s appeal, says Negrón-Muntaner. It is equal part arts and social sciences: students analyze film and literature, read anthropological ethnographies, and do archival research. It is also equal parts town and gown: After graduation, about half of the Ethnic Studies graduating class continues in academia, while the other half pursues careers in law, social work, medicine and media. Downtown at New York

University, Awam Amkpa, director of the undergraduate Africana Studies department, also said the interdisciplinary opportunities of ethnic studies draw students, adding that “the resurgence of Ethnic Studies reflects a global outlook among students.” NYU has over 7,000 international students, the second highest in the U.S. “Although, it has not been without growing pains,” he says. NYU similarly merged their ethnic studies concentrations six years ago, forming the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. Amkpa remembers that both NYU and Columbia’s decisions were met with some disapproval. At a university with sprawling administration, it comes down to an economy of scale, he explains. Collapsing NYU’s Africana, American, Asian/Pacific American, Latino, Gender and Sexuality, and Metropolitan Studies into the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis offers more collective administrative representation. “But there is a fear that the politics of the individual discourses would suffer from dilution,” says Amkpa. In reality, the new system mostly formalizes interdepartmental relationships that already existed, he says. Negrón-Muntaner echoes, “At Columbia, the departments were already sharing students, and now can do so more easily.” Both Negrón-

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Muntaner and Amkpa named the New York Caribbean Studies Working Group as an important site of collaboration for Africana and Latino Studies faculty at Columbia, Barnard and NYU. The fight for representation has always been central to the development of Ethnic Studies departments. “The civil rights movement made the development of historical Black, Native American and Asian studies necessary,” says Amkpa. The academy’s power to legitimize offers marginalized groups a means of “putting issues on the agenda and being a part of the political process.” Students especially have been crucial to the establishment of Ethnic Studies. In 1968, students at San Francisco State College protested legislation that would discourage minority student enrollment— activism that directly led to the formation of the first Ethnic Studies department, as well as copycats at Berkeley and

Madison. The 1996 hunger strike at Columbia concluded with negotiation of the formation of the CSER. This tradition means Ethnic Studies have always been conscious of the limits of their own institutions and critical of the ways they generate knowledge. Negrón-Muntaner says this mode is embedded within the curriculum, the “aim to critique and engage with epistemologies through their relationship to power structures and hierarchy.” For Jose A. Giralt, Columbia

class of 2013, this means adding his voice to the traditionally white record of history. “My professor once said, ‘We don’t live by the truth, but by the stories we’re told,’” he recalls. Attending Columbia after a career in photography, Giralt, 48, planned on majoring in art history. After taking an introductory Latino Studies course, he felt compelled to engage with art in a way that considers its historic exclusion of Latinos. “I could graduate with a degree in art history, get an amazing job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and use it to try

to bring more Latinos into the museum, but without [Latino Studies] I wouldn’t understand how complicated that challenge is, or know how to go about it.” He added Ethnic Studies as a double major and got to work outfitting South Bronx schools with darkroom photography equipment. The new, multicultural structure of Ethnic Studies may better reflect the new generation of scholars drawn to it. In an academic landscape where the Western canon is widely agreed to be insufficient, the conversation has shifted from minority vs. majority to an investigation of ‘intersectionality,’ or the ways in which different social markers (including race and ethnicity, as well as gender and class) interact. NegrónMuntaner and Amkpa agree that it’s hard to think of a better literal landscape for that study than New York, where “virtually every part of the world is represented.”

It’s more than just a degree. It’s a superior education, a full college experience, access to state-of-the-art resources and facilities, and to top-notch faculty renowned in their fields. At Hofstra University students discover their strengths and nurture their talents with renowned faculty in small classes on a vibrant campus close to New York City with a worldwide network of successful alumni and mentors. Hofstra’s resources rival those of any major university, yet our average undergraduate class size is just 22, and our studentto-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. hofstra students benefit from both advanced technological resources and personal attention from faculty. Programs of study hofstra offers about 140 undergraduate program options, including dual degree programs where you can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. the schools and colleges of Hofstra University are: Hofstra College of liberal arts and sciences; frank g. Zarb school of business; School of Education, Health and Human Services; School of Communication; Hofstra University Honors College and School for University Studies. Beyond the classroom each year, more than 500 cultural events take place on campus, drawing together scholars, business leaders, authors, celebrities, and journalists from around the world. A world of opportunities Hofstra is your connection to numerous career-enhancing, lifeshaping experiences. more than 400 employers from long island and New York City visit our campus each year. As a student and an alumnus, you’ll have the many resources of Hofstra’s Career Center to help you realize your career aspirations. To learn more about Hofstra University visit hofstra.edu/admission.



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New York University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution. ©2010 New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Master Class
An interview with the authors of The MBA Reality Check
n a Tuesday evening in late July, educational consultants Evan Forster and David Thomas were sitting at a glass conference table in their offices near the Flatiron district trying to impart nearly two decades of knowledge about graduate school admissions to some new hires. This was no ordinary job orientation. Strewn about the table were pages from Wharton’s application packet. And for two hours, a group of nine men and woman brainstormed—and learned—how best to translate ambiguous and thorny questions into lucid and powerful responses. Mr. Forster and Mr. Thomas have been doing this since the Internet was an enigma. They have mastered the process of graduate school applications and founded a successful company, Forster


and Thomas, to help people from all walks of life—think a prince from the Middle East and a football player from University of Michigan—gain admissions to dream schools. Recently, they authored a book, The MBA Reality Check, to help an even wider audience with business school admissions. Its pages are filled with the frankness, passion and humor that filled their staff meeting. After leading their team of consultants through essay questions from the toughest schools in the country, they sat down with the Educated Observer to answer our questions on business school candidacy. Educated Observer: It’s September. Somebody has decided they want to apply to business school for the second

round of admissions in January. What should they do? Evan Forster: Freak out! David Thomas: [Laughs] No need to freak if you get started right away. If you decide in September that you want to apply, first off, don’t even try to make the October deadlines. There is no disadvantage to applying in the January round. The first things you need to do are sign up for the GMAT and begin studying diligently. At the same time, you need to be honing in on your long- and short-term professional goals and finding programs that will help you realize them. Take the GMAT by the end of October and begin brainstorming your essay responses. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, be ready to give birth to that baby with complete first drafts. Don’t wait for the vacation over Christmas! By the beginning of December, you should have a first draft of all your essays. Then, in the Christmas break, you can do the final polish.

Mr. Forster and Mr. Thomas 8

Aside from a girlfriend or boyfriend, who should you avoid asking for feedback on the essay? Forster: Don’t go to your mom, don’t go to your buddy who is also applying and definitely don’t go to that person who’s already applied and been accepted. Getting into NYU Stern means they got in once. Your friend may have gotten in despite the mistakes he or she made—and even if he did it right, you don’t want to mimic his approach. Your topics and insights need to be original. Michael Phelps didn’t win gold by looking at the lanes next to him—he only looked ahead. And above all, do not go to your father who’s a managing director at Goldman Sachs. This is no longer the graduate school that he applied to.
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How long have you been educational consultants? Forster: We’ve been doing this for over 17 years. I have a background in magazine writing and used to write about colleges for magazines as diverse as The Utne Reader and Seventeen. David was an editor for major newspapers and magazines and edited writers like Maureen Dowd. So where I was good with content, he was good at cutting an 800-word essay in half without losing any of the voice. We formalized our partnership, ForsterThomas Inc., in 2000, and when David left his Executive Editor position at Yahoo! Internet Life, we devoted all our attention to helping transform the way candidates apply to business school (not to mention college, law, medical, film and other professional schools).

What’s the biggest challenge most B-school candidates encounter with their essays? Forster: First drafts. It’s the token problem. People just freak out. They want to self-edit—edit as they’re writing—and it doesn’t work that way. We train candidates all the time to “give birth to the baby before raising it to be president of the United States.” Thomas: No essay comes out the way it needs to be on the first draft. Writing doesn’t have to be great when it first comes out. Greatness comes in the revising. Are there common strengths among Manhattan B-school candidates? For instance, one thing many have in common? Forster: New York candidates have a great sense of entitlement. They see a school and do everything in their power to secure admissions. Boys often have it over it girls. A guy in New York says he’s entitled to have it all. He invites the school to join him for his ride. Conversely, many people outside the city ask permission to enter the school. They’re essentially asking for recognition and that’s not the winning approach.

times I’ve heard a candidate say that they have Stern locked up because “my dad plays golf with a trustee.” Someone can always one-up you—but, more importantly, what is that string-puller going to say about you that will help you get in? That your dad is a good guy? That doesn’t say about you that proves you have earned a spot at Stern. So you should not play that game. New York candidates also tend to be weak when it comes to getting involved in the world outside of their job. They will work 14-hour days, then, three times a year, they’ll go to a soup kitchen and volunteer. They seem to forget that there are plenty of others working the same hours who still find time every single week to mentor, join a Junior Board in a substantial role, coach a school sports team, or at least be active in alumni organizations. The mentality here is that nobody has time.

What should you avoid writing about? Forster: It’s so easy to talk about hardship in life, but for it to work in an essay you need to really turn it on its head and see what it’s saying about you. I had this one candidate who wanted to write about helping her mother through chemotherapy. And my thought was: That’s special? I expect you to help your mother—doing so is not an act that reveals you going above and beyond. And, all it takes is the next candidate to come along and say, “I was undergoing chemotherapy myself and launched a mentor program in the children’s ward while I was recovering.” Talking about hardship can really hurt you if you don’t see the bigger picture. Do you find people apply to too many programs or too few programs? Thomas: Too few. I always say that I’d rather you apply to a school that you find slightly lackluster—then, if it’s the only school you get into, you can at least have the choice to attend or wait to apply the next year. I guarantee that, in this situation, you’ll much rather go to Fordham—which happens to have an amazing program— than wait a year to try again for Stern.

No essay comes out the way it needs to be on the first draft. Writing doesn’t have to be great when it first comes out. Greatness comes in the revising.

Are there common pitfalls? Thomas: One big New York thing is to rely on connections instead of focusing on a quality candidacy. I can’t tell you how many

That doesn’t cut it. Almost every school has at least one question where they ask you to talk about leadership. But most people don’t have the opportunity to create an impact in their job and show the kind of leadership that counts. And this is one reason why extracurricular activities are so great, because you need to be able to rely on accomplishments outside of the workplace. Forster: One day I was speaking at Morgan Stanley and had 45 people in front of me. I went down the line asking what they did outside of work. One after the other, they told me they work crazy hours and have no time to do anything else. We got to the end and this second-year analyst told the group that she had just launched a school in Botswana. She wins! She’s the one you’re competing against.

What are some great MBA programs that you think get overlooked? Thomas: The Deming Program at Fordham is incredible. I’ve spoken about that a lot. The Zicklin School at Baruch University is also wonderful. Forster: The truth is, you need to take the time to find the right program. I can talk about Harvard until I’m blue in the face, but if you want to get into healthcare management, then you really want to go to Duke. And there are so many other examples. An MBA is not just a standardized program. If you want an advanced accounting education, than Pace is not that much different than Harvard. The biggest mistake is to think an MBA is like aspirin—aspirin is aspirin is aspirin, no matter what the brand. What are your thoughts about online MBA programs? Thomas: You have to be exceedingly careful because some of them are complete crap and only a handful are well respected.

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There are two main reasons why people want an MBA: One is to acquire a skill set; the other reason is to build a network. If you need the latter, online programs aren’t good options. But if, for example, you’re going to be taking over a family business and networking isn’t crucial for you, the Internet might offer everything you need. In that case, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Nebraska have very good online MBA programs. Also consider Drexel’s MBA Anywhere and Syracuse’s iMBA.

What’s your favorite essay that comes to mind? Thomas: I was working with a University of Arizona football player who was an engineer. He wanted to go to graduate school to fulfill his passion for building sustainable architecture. Right off the bat this is an interesting guy. But he was the kind of guy who was an iceberg. He revealed very little of himself. We’re on the phone one night and I’m wanting to pull my hair out trying to find out what’s beneath the water. So I asked him this question that Evan often asks, “What is your guilty pleasure?” He tells me that it’s watching Project Runway, but says he’ll deny it if I ever tell anybody.

The opening line of the essay was essentially that: “If you tell anyone this, I’ll deny it.” And it really was great. He wrote about coming to realize that the judges created their own authority and people bought into it because of their confidence and composure. It was an amazing epiphany in leadership. Forster: Right, but that’s not the main point. The thing is, this type of reveal works for every school and every essay. It’s some little thing that is seemingly unimportant to you—or something that is quirky or you want to hide. That’s the thing that I want you to explore. I don’t want you to be comfortable with what you write about. That will leave you with a safe, but ultimately boring, essay. Instead, hone in on the trait that makes you stand out as an individual: That’s what reveals something about you and separates you from the next person. Are you saying business schools don’t want to hear about business in the essays? Thomas: This is an oversimplification, but to give a conceptual outline of how admissions works: Admissions committees care about three things: One, are you at our level? They want to know you can do the work. They look at your GMAT and

your GPA for that. Two: Are you ready for an MBA program, and can you contribute? You may be ready fresh out of college if you were a campus leader. Others need a professional body of work to prove this. Three: The admissions committee needs to know how you fit in. That’s where the essays really help. So parts one and two prove your worth, but since they have five times as many worthy people as they can accept, the third part—the essays—helps you make the final cut. So don’t try to prove your worth in your essays—they already have your stats, scores and résumé— instead, show what kind of person you are and how you think. Imagine a typical New York bar scene. There are three guys. They’re all good looking, and they’re wearing Zegna suits. For all intents and purposes, they meet a girl’s requirements. So how she’s going to pick one? Certainly not by one of them telling her that they have five more Zegna suits in the closet. It’s going to be by what each one says when he opens his mouth. This is what great admissions essays are made of. Find out more about the authors and their book at www.thembarealitycheck.com.

into the classroom. full- and part-time options vary by program. The Postbaccalaureate Studies program at the School of continuing education offers qualified individuals with bachelor’s degrees the opportunity to take university courses for graduate school preparation or academic advancement. Working with advisers, each student develops a plan of study tailored to his or her background and academic goals. university undergraduate and graduate courses in over 50 areas of study provide Postbaccalaureate Studies students with a range of options. the school also offers certificate programs, summer courses, high school programs in New York, Barcelona and Jordan, and a program for learning English as a second language. thought the offerings are diverse, they are unified by a mission to mount innovative instructional programs that meet Columbia’s standard of excellence, take good advantage of its resources, and produce positive educational outcomes for the members of the student body.

THe ScHool of conTinUing edUcATion AT colUmBiA UniverSiTy is a resource for those who wish to take their lives in new directions, with a mission to transform knowledge and understanding in service of the greater good. The School offers thirteen applied master’s degrees in the established and emerging fields of actuarial science, Bioethics, Communications Practice, Construction administration, fundraising management, information and Digital Resource Management, Landscape Design, Sports Management, Strategic Communications, Sustainability Management and Technology Management. Each program provides practical, professional education for students seeking demanding, focused training. Courses are taught by faculty and industry leaders who bring current perspectives

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Big Star on
Child actors seeking higher education flock to New York schools, where the classroom and the stage can comingle.
t the age of 15, Sarah Steele flew from her hometown of Philadelphia to Los Angeles to film her breakout role. She was going to shoot the 2004 film Spanglish, co-starring as Adam Sandler’s brace-faced and poignantly awkward daughter, Bernie. She’d beat out hundreds of young actresses for the role, bypassing prestigious acting coaches in L.A. in favor of Philadelphia community theater. Months later, when the movie was released in theaters, Steele would rake in praise for her acting chops. She shot a pilot for ABC, signing a contract that would commit her to the life of an actor in L.A. for six years, should the show be picked up. But while waiting for news of the show’s fate, she realized that she missed life on the East coast: going to high school, applying for college, acting in a local hip-hop theater troupe. “I felt like that was the wrong decision, that I wanted to go to college,” she said. “After the pilot didn’t get picked up, I thought, I’ll graduate [from college] and I’ll still look 17, so I can still act then.” While applying for college, Steele considered only New York City schools so that she could be close to her agency and continue with theater in her spare time. Now a rising Columbia senior with a few indie movies—most recently, Nicole Holofcener’s Please Give—and Broadway roles under her belt, Steele is the textbook example of a seamless transition from child actor to working college student. She’s not the first: Haley Joel Osment of The Sixth Sense fame attended NYU, as did Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (albeit briefly) and Mara Wilson, who played the title role in Matilda. Julia Stiles, Anna Paquin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, both Gyllenhaal siblings, and Rider Strong of Boy Meets World all attended Columbia at one point. And this fall, Cole and Dylan Sprouse—identical twins who played the adorable kid in Big Daddy and starred in Disney’s The Suite Life of Zach and Cody—will enter as freshmen at NYU, joining fellow ex-Disneyite Amy Bruckner (Phil of the Future, Nancy Drew). Dakota Fanning was even spotted touring NYU in April. New York City is a prime destination for child stars and young actors who find themselves facing a difficult choice. They can skip college and stay in the business, banking on the success they found as kids with the hope their acting ability can outlast puberty. (See also: Miley Cyrus, Drew Barrymore, and possessor of the Holy Grail of post-child actor-career paths, Ron Howard.) Or they can go to college and seek a traditional career out of the spotlight, hoping that their classmates and professors don’t ridicule their one-time fame. New York City colleges offer an attractive mix of these two: a respectable college education as well as the career benefits of being in a worldwide theater capital—plus a hefty dose of New York City anonymity. Perez Hilton (né Mario Lavandeira) tracks the whereabouts of young actors and former child stars nearly every day on his enormously popular blog.


Sarah Steele. 14

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n Campus
By aManda corMier

“The New York scene differs from the L.A. scene in every way possible,” he wrote in an email. “But most obviously, it’s really far away from Los Angeles and their lives there. Many choose to go to New York City to get far away from their family and to have their first real taste of freedom in their lives. Plus, New York is edgy and cool in many of their eyes so it’s quite appealing.” Some have found academic life in New York incongruous with their acting careers once they arrive: the Olsen twins, Osment, Jake Gyllenhaal and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have taken seemingly infinite leaves of absence from their respective schools. While acting in the Off-Broadway

Haley Joel Osment.

Speech and Debate during her freshman year, Steele discovered that a full academic course load was nearly impossible to juggle with a fulltime acting career. “During that time I kind of felt like, I’m not going to do this again,” she says. “I really had no social life. I wasn’t sleeping as much as I should have been. I wouldn’t trade that experience, but since then I haven’t done a play at the same time I’ve been a full-time student.” Studying drama and acting in college is a popular option for young actors. Mara Wilson, Hollywood’s go-to cute kid (Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, Matilda) in the early ’90s, entered NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in 2005 to study acting. In June, Cole Sprouse said that he intended to major in film and television production and minor in drama. If you ask Perez Hilton, this route is a questionable career choice. “I always find it funny that working actors feel the need to get a degree in acting,” he says. “I understand the importance of honing your craft, but I don’t think a BFA in drama is necessarily going to be great for their craft or career. I think in many ways, the Jodie Foster approach at Yale—really removing herself from everything Hollywood and entertainment and immersing herself in academia—is the best approach.” While at NYU, Wilson faced the challenge of making a name for herself separate from her big-screen stint as a precocious preschooler. Before graduating in 2009, she channeled her experiences into a one-woman show called Weren’t You That Girl? “I really tried to play it down,” she told the blog NYU Local last year. “When people asked me [about my past film career], I’d acknowledge

Julia Stiles.

it but then move on. I really don’t think I fit the stereotype of a former child actor. If anything, I fit more of the stereotype of the former highschool drama nerd.” Steele said she doesn’t often get recognized, but when she does, it’s more of a joke with her friends— “Oh, you’re so famous!” —than a real hindrance to her academic experience. “In New York, it’s kind of an everyday thing to see someone from TV or a movie,” she said. “It’s one of the main places this is done besides L.A. You have a better chance of knowing that someone’s whole life isn’t the fact that they were Matilda.”


Gowns on the Town
Site-specific grad classes think outside the lecture hall
By eMily canal

or a student in New York City, a graduate program can offer more than on-campus class time. Throughout the city, many schools offer site-specific courses that take students outside the classroom for scheduled sessions, research or field work. Mark Naison, professor and chair of the African and African American Studies program at Fordham University, teaches a music course designed to take students into the city for examples of music and the artists involved. “I take the class to places where music is created and show them how it works on the ground,” says Naison, who has been teaching the course for 35 years. “I am trying to break down the wall between university and community.” Naison’s class, “From Rock and Roll to Hip



Hop,” focuses on the Bronx and the grassroots musical culture originating in the community. Naison says he enjoys taking his class to Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, a performance and multimedia space in the South Bronx. “The Bronx was formative in both musical forms,” Naison says. “The greatest doo-wop groups came out of the Bronx, and in the early days it is where hip-hop started.” Naison says field trips make up about 10 percent of class time, but he also invites guest speakers and performers into the classroom. “I completely support it and it’s the best way to possibly learn,” says Charlie Johnson, also known as DJ Charlie Hustle, who took the course with Naison. “You get to feel the city instead of just theorizing about it.” At the City University of New York,

Professor Setha Low teaches a public space research course in the center for human environments. She takes her students to different public spaces in the city and assigns tasks such as mapping, field notes and observations. In the past the class has studied Bryant Park, Union Square, Battery Park City, Washington Square Park and the subway systems. After the preliminary research, students are asked to find a conflict and interview residents. Their work is compiled and submitted at the end of the semester. “I think it’s really important,” Low says. “They are seeing the real world, discussing it and pondering it.” Students spend the last six weeks of the

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semester touring the designated area. Low says she designates about a third of the course time to the project. “The best way to learn is reading, talking about it and going out and doing something,” Low says. “It gets everyone to go out and work together.” Andrew French, part-time faculty member and director of the issues analysis lab at the New School for Management and Urban Policy, takes a different approach to utilizing New York City as a classroom. His students work directly with clients that have management policy problems and perform research to later advise the employer on solutions. “I tell the kids that they will never take a course like this again,” says French, who had 80 students in his analysis class last semester. “This is their first chance to get in the field and consult a client and they love it.” French says students have worked with public policy advocates, environmental protection agencies, policy directors and executive directors of small nonprofit organizations. The class is divided into teams of four and each group tackles one project. In addition to outside work, meetings with clients, and lectures, French says students are required to meet with an adviser twice a week for progress reports. “It’s all about competitive advantage,” French says. “This makes the New School a place you want to go.”

At New York University, students explore the many museums and memorial sites in Bruce Altshuler’s museum studies graduate class. Altshuler takes weekly discussions and assigns corresponding field trips to different locations in the city. “They actually go to the site and study things and look at the process of how things are done,” says Altshuler, professor and director of the program. “It’s a way of using

cUny’S mAcAUlAy HonorS college SAlUTeS STellAr grAdS on 10TH AnniverSAry

the city and engaging with the professionals who work there.” He says students are required to go to a location at least once a week and spend several hours completing the assignment. Students have explored sites like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National September 11 Memorial.

“I completely support it and it’s the best way to possibly learn,” says Charlie Johnson, also known as DJ Charlie Hustle. “You get to feel the city instead of just theorizing about it.”

in celebration of its 10th anniversary, Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York is saluting the stellar achievements of its 1,200 graduates — the doctors, lawyers, educators and businessmen – who are making great strides in their fields. the nationally recognized Macaulay Honors College, created by CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, attracts students from around the world, many of whom continue their studies at noted graduate and professional schools, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and the CUNY Graduate Center. more than 60 percent of macaulay’s students are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and about a third are the first in their

family to attend college. Like their Ivy League peers, Macaulay students have been awarded some of the world’s more prestigious fellowships, including the rhodes, fulbright, mitchell, truman, goldwater and national science foundation awards. Macaulay students enroll in one of seven CUNY senior colleges — Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, Queens or Staten Island. Each student develops an individual academic program that includes research, global learning, graduate and professional mentoring, community engagement and close faculty collaboration.

“Here we have an incredible wealth of institutions and professionals and that’s a major part of the curriculum,” Altshuler says. “It’s an amazing opportunity for [the students], you know, it’s New York.” When teaching ethnomusicology at Columbia University, Associate Professor Aaron Fox requires his students to complete field work in the musical communities of their choice. “The New York location is the major distinguishing feature of the program,” says Fox, who has taught the course for 13 years. “They can work on music influenced by cultures that are not represented as well as in New York.” The students of the ethnomusicology class develop a thesis and perform approximately 10 hours a week of research and field work. Fox says his class meets once a week for two hours, where he acts as the liaison between the ethnic communities and the music scene. Students have explored topics such as tango dancing in New York and the Peruvian community in Queens. They have also visited musical centers like Death By Audio electronics shop and performance center in the Bronx, the World Music Institute on the Upper West Side and the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. “The resources here are incomparable and the best of the city is offered as a lab,” Fox says. “New York is our program’s secret weapon.”

Selected for their top high school records and leadership potential, Macaulay students receive a full-tuition scholarship, a laptop computer and technology support, a $7,500 grant to pursue global learning and service opportunities and a Cultural Passport that gives them access to New York City museums, libraries and other institutions. for more information visit www.macaulay.cuny.edu.


can help students advance their knowledge of finance, readying them for new opportunities in the field. a certificate in business finance fundamentals is being introduced this fall, as well as targeted offerings such as The Business of microfinance or trends in private equity. KicK off THe fAll wiTH clASSeS AT THe nyU ScHool of conTinUing And ProfeSSionAl STUdieS The New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS) offers the context and credentials that New Yorkers need to prosper in today’s fastchanging economy and work environment. “This fall holds special promise,” says NYU-SCPS Dean Robert Lapiner. “Within new and ever-changing curricula across the School, our faculty members have incorporated understanding of the innovation and change that are shaping so many fields.” Readying for New Business Opportunities Whether the economic turbulence in Europe subsides or the u.s. recovery becomes entrenched or fitful, nYu-scps further, at the nYu schack institute of real estate, the new Center for a Sustainable Built Environment will be hosting seminars and producing important applied research, as well as contributing to innovations in what the School teaches. A new certificate in real estate development, and in building information modeling, as well as the wholly revised certificate in real estate finance and investment, have been added to the NYU-SCPS portfolio. Register Now These and many other learning opportunities can be found in the fall 2010 nYu-scps bulletin or online at www.scps.nyu.edu. NYU-SCPS invites you to create your own customized Bulletin anytime— online—using its NYUSCPS Bulletin Builder at www.nyuscps.dg3.com.


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Hyperlocal and entrepreneurial journalism are the newest trends in new media—and schools across the city are taking notice

Out of the Classroom, Onto the Web
uck new media,” Columbia Journalism School professor Ari L. Goldman famously told his students on their first day of class last year. The course was Reporting and Writing 1, a core part of Columbia’s M.S. program that had just been revamped to incorporate more digital media content. Goldman, a 20-year veteran of The New York Times who has taught RW1 for more than 16 years, soon dialed back on the fiery rhetoric. (“Students need to know the ethics and history and practice of journalism before


they become consumed with the mold they put it in,” he later—and more calmly— explained to New York magazine.) But a year later, this idea seems almost quaint. Digital media has become a crucial component of every journalism school’s curriculum. At Columbia, nearly every course has its own Wordpress blog; at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, every student must take courses in interactive and video journalism. “It’s not a choice—you can’t not do it,” said Steve Shepherd, dean of CUNY’s journalism school, of digital media education.

By Julia halperin

But with journalism schools innovating more new programs than ever before, “new media” is no longer the hottest term in journalism education. It has taken a backseat to two concepts embraced even more recently by New York’s journalism schools: hyperlocal journalism and entrepreneurial journalism. As hyperlocal journalists, students cover the daily happenings in their own communities, often through a partnership with an established media outlet like The New York Times. As entrepreneurial journalists, students build their own start-ups and create their own jobs

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instead of working within an established news organization. “New media is old media,” said Brooke Kroeger, dean of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. “Collaboration is the next step.” Despite growing unemployment rates for journalism and communications graduates with a bachelor degree—according to a University of Georgia study released in August, only 55.5 percent had a full-time job within a year of graduation—journalism graduate schools are actively growing. Officials from Columbia, CUNY and NYU all report a solid, if not increasing, number of applicants for this academic year. And it’s not just application pools that are expanding—many of New York’s top journalism schools have established or are preparing to launch institutes devoted to incubating innovation in the field. In April, Columbia announced The Guardian’s Emily Bell as director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, established earlier this year, which aims to educate leaders in digital journalism and serve as a center of research and development for the profession. CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, according to Dean Steve Shepherd, has secured two multimillion-dollar grants—including a $3 million grant from the Tow Foundation—to establish a Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. “The problem with the journalism profession today isn’t so much the quality of the journalism—the journalism is really very good,” said Mr. Shepherd. “The question is: How do we support quality journalism in the years ahead? That’s the new trend.” Journalism schools are all developing their own answers to Mr. Shepherd’s question, but hyperlocal and entrepreneurial journalism have infiltrated curricula at breakneck speed, particularly at NYU and CUNY. Hyperlocal journalism has always existed in some form

(before there were neighborhood blogs, there were community newspapers). But recently, larger news organizations have begun to outsource local reporting to outsiders in order to cut costs, and New York’s journalism schools are capitalizing on the opportunity. In January, The New York Times announced that it would turn over day-to-day control of two

“The question is: how do we support quality journalism in years ahead? That’s the new trend.”

of its local Brooklyn blogs, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, to CUNY students and professors. The school is in talks with WNET and AOL Patch about extending the school’s hyperlocal coverage to other neighborhoods, according to Mr. Shepherd. Over at NYU, students and faculty have been working alongside New York Times staffers

for the last six months to build their own local blog for the East Village. When The Local: East Village launches in September, students and community members will run the entire operation. By using students as reporters and classrooms as offices, “many direct costs other people would have, we don’t have,” said Ms. Kroeger. Though some criticize The Times for using students as free labor, students don’t seem to mind. “I never dreamed that I would ever get to work on anything for The New York Times,” said Anjali Khosla, an NYU student who helped build The Local and the social media manager for the New York Daily News. And it’s not just the students who collaborate to build a hyperlocal news product—both projects also aim to train community members to become active contributors. “What hyperlocal really means is that you get the community engaged to do it themselves,” said Mr. Shepherd. In addition to its hyperlocal class in which students produce content for The Local, CUNY will launch a second hyperlocal class this semester devoted to community outreach. “If their kids are in the public school system, they know a lot about the public school system,” said Mr. Shepherd. “The trick is to train those people to do journalism and make sure they don’t have their own partisan agendas.” Similarly, NYU’s Local blog comes with a mandate that 50 percent of the content must come from the community. “Reaching that goal will be a challenge,” said Jay Rosen, chair of the NYU’s Studio 20 program, which built The Local: East Village site. Ultimately, however, students and administrators involved with local blogging initiatives are convinced that seeking contributions from the community will lead to a better and more sustainable product. “If there’s a fight in the street, there may be a bigger story there that someone who has been sitting on that street corner every night could tell,” said Ms. Khosla,

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a Studio 20 concentrator. “People who live in a community can report better than people from outside.” Although Columbia has not structured a specific hyperlocal course around a partnership with a larger news organization, it has updated its hyperlocal course offerings. Last spring, Columbia revamped “The Bronx Beat,” a course devoted to publishing a local weekly newspaper. The newly christened “City Newsroom” course combines students from print, broadcast and digital concentrations and covers local stories in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx on discrete Web sites like the Brooklyn Ink. Although students in the Columbia News Service course send their stories to the New York Times Newswire, Bill Grueskin, dean of Columbia Journalism School, added, “Student work can go public, and viral, without having to be published, posted or broadcast via an existing mainstream news organization.” Students’ ability to publish stories written for class on the Internet has transformed not only the potential for exposure but also the classroom experience, he added. “When they go out and do these stories in New York City, it’s not simply a classroom assignment, they’re actually publishing for the public that they’re serving,” said Mr. Grueskin. While these hyperlocal initiatives take a digital spin on an established practice, another trend in journalism school education seeks to

charge into uncharted waters. Entrepreneurial journalism classes have sprung up at both NYU and CUNY. At NYU, students write business plans for start-up projects and pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists at the end of the semester. “They were tough,” said Rachel Wise, a Reporting New York concentrator who petitioned to bring an entrepreneurial journalism course to NYU.

“But this is all for real—I know a lot of people who are moving forward with their ideas.” At CUNY, student projects have ranged from a Web site chronicling sustainability in the clothing industry in developing countries to an iPhone application for sports fans. CUNY students will soon have the option to add a fourth semester to earn a certificate in entrepreneurial journalism at the forthcoming

student work can go public, and viral, without having to be published, posted or broadcast via an existing mainstream news organization.”

Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Some worry that these new opportunities push students into the professional world before they’re ready. “A lot of times, a student will turn in a story that’s a competent story … but it’s not good enough to it be published, and frankly we don’t even want the student’s byline attached to because three or for years from now someone can do a Google search,” said Mr. Grueskin. But administrators also report that the higher standards have led to a better product and transformed studentprofessor relationships. Because students are publishing original work on public platforms, professors become not only instructors, but also editors and publishers. “It really raises the bar for what students do as part of their classroom assignments,” said Mr. Grueskin. Although officials report strong hiring trends for recent graduates, it is unclear whether these new techniques will better prepare aspiring journalists for the job market. Duy Linh Tu, coordinator of the digital media program at Columbia, cautioned transforming an established program to conform to passing trends: “Those things can consume you and you start losing your core.” Still, said Mr. Tu, journalism schools are feeling the same pressure as journalists to stay ahead of the curve. “There’s the mentality that if you don’t adapt, you don’t survive, and I think that’s spilled over into journalism schools.” well as emerging areas such as business law and ethics in the digital age, and global entrepreneurship, all infused with an emphasis on socially responsible decision-making in today’s global economy.

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The Dean’s List
By ricardo Bilton

The dean of Columbia’s Journalism School on dual degrees, the future of multi-media news, and the students being groomed to report it
n journalism today, few things are more certain than uncertainty. Consider USA Today, which announced last month that it would lay off 130 employees—9 percent of the paper’s staff—due to editorial restructuring. The mission is to shift USA Today’s focus from print to digital media, creating content for the smart phones, tablets and personal computers that currently dominate media consumption. Few media companies have proven immune to these technology-borne shifts, many of which are irrevocably altering the media landscape. Fortunately for the next generation of journalists, higher education has taken notice. Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in particular has reflected these trends in its curriculum. Earlier this year,


the school secured funding to launch the Tow Center for New Media, which will be run by the recently appointed Emily Bell, former director of Digital Content for Britain’s Guardian News and Media. Also recent is the announcement that starting in 2011, the Graduate School of Journalism will be offering a dual-degree Master of Science Program in Computer Science and Journalism with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The Journalism School’s dean of Academic Affairs is Bill Grueskin, formerly deputy managing editor for news at The Wall Street Journal; he spoke to the Educated Observer about Columbia’s pivotal shifts in focus. Educated Observer: What was the logic behind the creation of

the dual degree? Dean Bill Grueskin: Both from my own experience and talking with a number of journalists and people who operate in multimedia newsrooms, one of the things that we’ve seen is a gulf between journalists on one side and developers and programmers on the other. Journalists often don’t understand or appreciate the level of technological skill you need to accomplish certain things in the digital world. Developers and programmers don’t always appreciate what it us that journalists are in tie business to do in terms of how they define a story and create an audience. And to many of us in journalism this is one of the real issues hampering the progress of journalism as it makes its transition from print and broadcast, the standard legacy forms, to online or digital. So the goal of this program is, in a small way, to educate and, we hope, create a cadre of students who will be skilled and versed in both journalistic skills and values as well as having a deep and thorough knowledge of computer science. We expect that

they will become real innovators and leaders as journalism goes through this very interesting and very rocky period online.

Were there any major issues getting the dual degree through the door? There were no issues in the sense of people saying “Why are you doing this?” or “We don’t think that this is the kind of thing Columbia ought to be teaching.” The issues—which were interesting and very useful, and ones we will be grappling with—had more had to do with how we structure this program so that the students feel like they are a part of both schools during the entire time here. We have a lot of joint degree programs at Columbia, but what they usually consist of is, you go to school A, get your degree, then when you are done getting your degree at school A, you reenroll at school B, get your degree there, and you wind up with two degrees. But it’s not a very integrated curriculum. What we want to try to do is change the way those programs are defined

Working at The Wall Street Journal, can you point to any times where the staff could had benefitted from the type of journalist the dual degree is trying to create? The data that journal readers expect is staggering and it has to be accurate, timely, easily accessible and malleable. By data I mean anything from rates on treasury bills to what the exchange rate is between the euro and the dinar, to historical stock prices— that kind of thing. Some of this is a technical issue, but some of it is a journalistic issue. If you think, as I do, that journalists over time develop a good sense of who their readers or viewers or listeners or users are, and that they tailor content to meet the needs of those people, then you want people who have some journalistic understanding working on the technology that’s serving up the economic and financial data that your readers want. Journalists seem to be doing quite a bit outside their comfort zones already, between video, audio and other media. Would you say that this degree is an extension of the multimedia trend or something different? The whole issue of educating journalists is an interesting one these days because it mirrors a lot of the issues going on in the industry itself. We’ve significantly ramped up the level of digital training we do here. We are by no means unique in that; most journalism schools do it. All the M.S. students here, regardless of what their concentration is, all get a certain grounding in photo and audio and Final Cut Pro and are encouraged to take courses in social media. That’s a somewhat different issue than what the dual degree is intended to do. The kind of core digital training we

give our students is enabling them to think creatively with a multimedia mind-set. With this program, while obviously we hope and expect the students will be well versed enough in digital technology—both hardware and software—to be able to do stuff like that, their computer science training would be at a Master’s degree level at an Ivy League institution. So [the degree] should give them an understanding of how to create and develop new applications and tools, and ways of defining their audience that most of us are just not capable of doing. So it’s really two different levels of understanding.

If the program is successful over a period of years what I think could happen is people who are interested in journalism earlier in their college lives will start taking courses in their sophomore junior and senior year. Considering that a major issue for media companies these days is making money in the new media environment, why not offer a business and journalism degree instead? First of all, we’re not ruling that out. There are only so many of these programs that you can watch at the same time. In terms of business journalism, we take taken some steps here already with our core M.S. programs, so now every student here is required to take a “Business of

Kenneth Lerer—the CEO of the Huffington Post—to do a number of sessions throughout the school year where he brings in venture capitalists and others to work with students, particularly those with an entrepreneurial bent.

So would that make these students journalists-

We expect that they will become real innovators and leaders as journalism goes through this very interesting and very rocky period online.
Journalism” class similar to a law and ethics class. We started that last year. It gives students kind of a basic grounding in the media business, what models have historically supported the media, how online is disrupting those and what’s starting to emerge. So every single student in the full time M.S. program takes that. Last year I had 280 students take it. In addition to that, there is a spring elective called “Making the Business of Journalism Work,” which is taught by an adjunct professor from the business school. For those students who really want to go to that next step of looking at the financial support for media companies and what’s emerging, we also brought in

as-programmers or programmers-as-journalists? To define it slightly differently, one of the things I get asked sometimes is, “What kind of people do you think will be applying to the program?” We’ve gotten many inquiries about it. A number from people would need much more computer science background in order to qualify for admission because in order to begin this program, you have to qualify for both the journalism school and the computer science department, and both have high standards in terms of ability. So I suspect that the first few classes will attract more programmers who are interested in journalism and media and, more broadly, the information needs of society.

How do you respond to the criticism that programs like this create a class of journalists stretched too thin to excel in any one area? That’s a more general issue with journalism schools, including this one, and it’s something we are very conscious of. That’s why we still have concentrations. That’s why we have concentrations in print, broadcast and digital, because while you hear a lot of “We want journalists who can do anything at any time,” the truth is you also want people who are really good at one or two things. They should all have a base understanding of what it means to be a journalist, how to define a story, how to verify information, how to be fair and accurate and all that. That kind of goes without saying. But beyond that, somebody who really wants to be a radio journalist in Africa or a digital journalist in Silicon Valley— there are fairly specific things that we can teach those students that will really help them not just get their first job but help their career progress. While we want everybody to have a basic knowledge of journalistic skills and values as well as some core digital techniques, we also want them to have some flexibility and the freedom to pursue whatever they want to do. To learn more about the dual degree and other Columbia programs, visit www.journalism. columbia.edu.

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