Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Towson University, in partnership with U.S. Department of State, to host professional fellows from Serbia as part of project to bolster disability rights in Serbia

Note: This is an ongoing project in which I am partnering with the disability organization, Centre Living Upright in Serbia and the Novi Sad School of Journalism in Serbia. In the picture, Mima Ruzicic-Novkovic, leader of Centre Living Upright, speaks about better reporting on disability issues in Serbia in August 2013. 

TOWSON, Md. -- Towson University’s Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies and its Hussman Center for Adults with Autism will host representatives from the Serbian disability organization, Centre Living Upright, and the Novi Sad Journalism School in Serbia, as part of the U.S. Department of State sponsored Professional Fellows EMPOWER Program, administered by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). .

This two-way exchange program aims to expand the capacity of organizations in the U.S. and abroad to promote inclusive communities and advance disability rights around the world. Towson University is working on a long-term project with the Serbian organizations to create and disseminate effective media messages surrounding disability rights. Emphasis will be placed on the use of social media to advocate for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all sectors of society

In August 2013, Rhonda Greenhaw, Director of Towson University’s Hussman Center for Adults with Autism, went to Serbia to participate in a preliminary exchange visit to build the foundation for the collaborative media advocacy project.

From October 19-29, 2013,  Milica Mima Ruzicic-Novkovic, director of Centre Living Upright, and Jelena Jovovic from the Novi Sad Journalism School will work alongside counterparts at Towson University to gain first-hand experience on how issues in the disability rights and journalism fields are addressed in the U.S.  

During their time in Maryland, Ruzicic-Novkovic and Jovovic will meet with disability rights advocates and journalists from key organizations, audit journalism training courses, and develop a long-term project that will help illuminate disability rights in Serbia. The Towson University-Serbia project will include training Serbians with disabilities in both media advocacy and self-advocacy; educating Novi Sad journalism students on how to report on disability issues; creating a television show by and for Serbians with disabilities; and developing a media monitoring scheme. 

Towson University is one of 20 U.S.-based organizations and institutions competitively selected to host overseas professionals from 40 organizations in 20 different countries.  Projects range from inclusive education, independent living, healthcare rights, law and policy, recreation and sports, access to public services, and advocacy for all persons with disabilities. . Learn more about and view an interactive map of the 20 selected teams here

At the conclusion of the program, all overseas participants and their U.S. hosts will gather in Washington, D.C., for a three day conference facilitated by MIUSA, Oct. 31- Nov.2. Participants will network with other leaders in their field, and share plans for long-term projects that will be implemented upon their return home.  

For press inquiries, please contact:
Beth Haller, Ph.D., Towson University Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies, (410) 704-2442, bhaller@towson.edu

Anna Griffin, U.S. Department of State, (202) 632-6452, griffinAL@state.gov  

About Towson University’s Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies and the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism:

The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies focuses on the study of the structure, processes, aesthetics, functions, ethics and criticism of mass media and human communication. The department provides students with broad and diverse course work in advertising, journalism and new media, public relations, and communication studies.

The Hussman Center for Adults with Autism brings together Towson students and young adults on the autism spectrum to create a mutually-rewarding learning environment. Social, educational and fitness programs support student learning and adults with autism as they develop the tools needed to lead meaningful lives as engaged members of their communities.

About the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs: The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Exchange supports exchange programs that increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.  Approximately 50,000 individuals take part annually in exchange programs managed by the U.S. Department of State.