Partnership Grant with CSJMM

By Samantha Webb

Dr. Keith Kenney is headed east to Georgia. He knows where he’s going. It’s not the Georgia that lies just west of the Savannah River. Starting this fall, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications begins its partnership with the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The J-school received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to work with and help improve the graduate school in the former Soviet state, an independent and west-leaning country since the collapse of communism. Dr. Keith Kenney, an associate professor, will be the first of several USC faculty and doctoral students to travel to Tbilisi. He is the main author of the grant proposal and the director for the project.

The CSJMM opened in 2001 with the goal of “promoting free, independent and professional media.” It is the first western-style school in the Caucasus region east of the Black Sea. The dean of CSJMM, Maia Mikashavidze, visited the J-school in the fall of 2010.

Throughout the next three years, five other J-school faculty members and doctoral students, including Lisa Sisk, Geah Pressgrove and Matt Haught, will travel to Georgia to teach at CSJMM. In exchange, three CSJMM faculty members will come to Columbia to pursue their doctoral degrees from the University of South Carolina. They will complete all the necessary coursework at USC over the next three years but will then return to Georgia and defend their dissertations via Skype.

One aspect of the grant is creating a master’s program for CSJMM. Once Dr. Kenney arrives at CSJMM for his one-year tenure there, he will assess what they need and determine the nature of the program. The type of program will also help decide which other J-school faculty will travel to Georgia and teach.

Dr. Kenney heads SJMC efforts to increase international exchanges and has traveled and taught in other countries such as Italy and China. He believes this is a great opportunity for the J-school to really make a difference at CSJMM and in the journalism field in Georgia.

“ I’m very happy because I feel like this is a great opportunity for our school and for me personally to make a difference there,” Kenney says. ic

Samantha Webb
Samantha Webb

Samantha Webb is a junior Visual Communications student. She enjoys running during her spare time.

She is a part of the 2011 InterCom Class.