New course gives international exposure

Students in the Speech Communications Department will have first dibs on a new course being offered this summer at SIUE.

The new course is Speech Communications 419 Special Topics, International Public Relations, and is worth six credits to students who are accepted. Even though the course is in speech communications, it is open to students working towards degrees in mass communications, business, and political science, as well as other areas of study.

The course is part of an effort to give students a broad range of educational experience, including international education according to Isaac Blankson, associate professor and chair of speech communications.

“Part of the college’s mission is to be able to provide an outlet for international experience. We started building on that,” said Blankson. “We are fortunate enough to have faculty who have the expertise in that area.”

The course was proposed by Sorin Nastasia, assistant professor of speech communications, as a tool to give students in the department hand-on experience. Nastasia, who has worked at SIUE since 2009, is originally from Romania, which gave him a base knowledge with which he has designed the course.

“The 12 students will have to meet with PR professors in communications programs in Lyon, [France], and Bucharest, [Romania]. Most importantly, they will shadow PR practitioners at PR firms in those cities,” said Nastasia. “The group of students will be split into groups of three or four because no public relations firm, medium size or small size, will accept more than that at one time.”

The course is designed for students to spend one week in class at SIUE, followed by two weeks in Lyon and two weeks in Bucharest. According to an informational flyer, this will give the students a base of knowledge, and allow them to “experience the PR practices and cultures of a country in Western Europe and one in Eastern Europe” giving the students the ability to “compare these practices and cultures.”

For the first year, a portion of the course fee is being paid for by a $30,000 grant from the EUE, or Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Students participating this year will  only have to pay for air travel, passport, and tuition costs. Room and board, transportation, and cultural exchange activities in France and Romania are being covered by the grant.

The course is split into two components. Component 1 will give the students two days worth of lectures and workshops at Universite Lumiere Lyon 2 and at the National University for Political Studies and Public Administration in Romania. Component 2 will allow the students to shadow practitioners for six days, where the students will contribute to different PR campaigns.

SC 419 will run between May 21 and June 24, 2011. The application deadline is on November 15, 2011. Students who are interested in the course should contact Nastasia at or by phone (618) 650-5826.

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