May 18, 2009

As Obama Prepares to Meet with Palestinian, Israeli and Egyptian Leaders, Public Remains Weary of Outcome

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:06 pm by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to pursue his plans for the peace initiative projected by his administration, the public remains unsure of the potential impact on peaceful relations among Middle Eastern nations.

Urging nations to strengthen partnerships

 

The Obama administration is pushing for efforts to negotiate peaceful relations among Middle Eastern countries, as discussed throughout the presidential campaign. Image from Getty Images.

The Obama administration is pushing for efforts to negotiate peaceful relations among Middle Eastern countries, as discussed throughout the presidential campaign. Image from Getty Images.

Obama plans to urge the leaders of Palestine, Israel and Egypt to continue taking the necessary steps toward solidifying peaceful relations between the respective countries. The negotiations will take place during a series of meetings held in Washington this month.

 

The Middle Eastern leaders meeting with Obama include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The leaders plan to discuss ways in which the U.S. can strengthen its relations with Middle Eastern nations, in addition to plans for decreasing tensions between Israel and Palestine and Israel and Arab states. These meetings will occur May 18 through May 28.

Public remains skeptical of a positive outcome, significant changes in relations

Though the meetings suggest movement toward more peaceful relations, much of the public remains skeptical of Obama’s peace initiative.

Many members of the Elon University community and surrounding Burlington area see these meetings as nothing more than overly-ambitious goals that will do nothing substantial to increase peaceful ties among disputing nations.

‘Don’t really know how much good it will do’

“I don’t really know a whole lot about what is going on in the Middle East, but I think the peace negotiations could be a step in the right direction,” said Ross Jefferys, a Burlington, N.C. resident. “At the same time, I don’t really know how much good it will do. The area is already such a mess, and I’m not sure that just meeting with some leaders will be enough to fix their problems or increase peace.”

Mileah Kromer, assistant professor of political science and assistant director of the Elon University Poll, has a strong opinion of Obama’s plan in relation to the actions taken by the previous presidential administration.

Click below to listen to Kromer’s views of the steps taken by the Obama administration to secure peaceful relations between nations of the Middle East:

 

An important first step

“You know, it’s obviously a really important first step to undo some of the damage that’s been done by the previous administration,” Kromer said. “Do I think it’s important? Do I think a lot of good will come of it? Well, that’s really kind of questionable at this point.”

Kromer says that in the past there have been similar efforts put forth by administrations such as the Carter presidency, resulting in a history of lasting peace between Israel and Egypt. Nevertheless, she says the conflict between Israel and Palestine is “a little bit more of a stickier situation” that may not be solved by simply holding a series of negotiations.

Several Elon University students share similar opinions of the impact of Obama’s upcoming peace negotiations.

Repairing the reputation of the U.S.

“When Bush was in office he almost ruined our reputation in the Middle East,” said junior Kelsey Gwilt, a Elon University political science minor. “I think it’s important for Obama to keep in contact with the leaders of these countries. We don’t know exactly what they’re going through but we are trying to repair our reputation, and holding negotiations definitely helps with that.”

Still, Gwilt agrees that peaceful relationships between Middle Eastern countries will be tricky to secure, and remains skeptical that the countries will see any direct results from the meetings in Washington.

Mediation may help, but religion adds to complications

“It’s essentially a war about religion,” Gwilt said. “Part is about land, the Promised Land. Because religion is so personal, it’s hard to mediate peace between countries. I don’t think the meeting will help with relationships between Middle Eastern countries, just because of the fact that it’s way too complicated. It’s going to take many, many years. It still might help to mediate, just because communication is so important, so it’s a step in the right direction.”

 “I think obviously it’s a step in the right direction,” said Kaitlin Ugolik, an Elon journalism and international studies double major. “I honestly don’t think it’s going to change that much, just because of the depth of the issues. Also, the fact that there are so many different issues and they aren’t discussing just one thing makes it seem like not much will really come of the peace negotiations.”

Remaining hopeful for the potential to achieve peaceful relations

Amy Vaughn shares her thoughts on Obama's peace initiative for the Middle East. Photo by Ashley Dischinger

Amy Vaughn shares her thoughts on Obama's peace initiative for the Middle East. Photo by Ashley Dischinger

Elon University parent Amy Vaughn is hopeful that one day peaceful relations will become reality among these nations. For the time being, she is still unsure that a mere series of negotiations will achieve this goal.

 

“I would think it would be wonderful if we could get some peace in that area,” said Vaughn, a Durham, N.C. resident. “But it’s been so many years that I’m very skeptical they could get the leaders of these countries to agree on much. I do think that Obama is trying to get a plan together… and if he could just get everyone together at the table at the same time, there is a chance for peace, but I don’t really think that it’s going to happen.”

May 12, 2009

Math Tools for Journalists: Directional Measurements, Area Measurements, Volume Measurements and the Metric System

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 11:19 am by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

The metric system still remains a mystery to many Americans, but it is an important concept for journalists to understand and incorporate into their reporting. Image from Getty Images.

The metric system still remains a mystery to many Americans, but it is an important concept for journalists to understand and incorporate into their reporting. Image from Getty Images.

Many news stories include mathematical concepts such as directional, area or volume measurements, or measurements based on the metric system. It is imperative that reporters have a solid grasp on these concepts in order to report them in a clear manner.

Chapters Nine through Twelve of Math Tools for Journalists discuss these math skills and the most common ways the concepts can be applied to enhance a story. These tools certainly have the potential to add a great deal to the story, especially when explaining the basic math concepts in a manner that the general public will easily understand.

The metric system: a foreign concept to many

The metric system is a concept that is foreign to many Americans. Nevertheless, it is vital that journalists have a basic understanding of how to report and convert numbers in the metric system. The majority of countries adhere to the metric system, making it a staple of reporting stories involving international commerce and science.

As suggested by its name, the meter is the basic unit for length in the metric system. Similarly, mass is also derived from the meter. The international metric system is based on multiples of 10. Since it is based on the decimal system, users can easily change from one unit to another by either multiplying or dividing by units of 10.

Common unit names are the meter (measuring length), the gram (measuring mass) and the liter (measuring volume). Simple prefixes can be added to the unit names in order to create larger or smaller factors.

There are common formulas that can be used to convert American lengths to units in metric terms when finding the length, area, volume and temperature. For example, multiply miles by 1.6 in order to find kilometers. When finding the area, multiple square feet by 0.09 to find the equivalent in square meters.

The formulas are simple for temperature conversions between Celsius and Fahrenheit. Image from Getty Images.

The formulas are simple for temperature conversions between Celsius and Fahrenheit. Image from Getty Images.

The formulas for temperature conversion are as follows:

To convert Fahrenheit to Celsius:

Celsius = .56 x (Fahrenheit – 32)

To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit:

Fahrenheit = (1.8 x Celsius) + 32

Following style rules

There are also many style rules that the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggest journalists follow. These style rules are similar to AP Style rules and list common ways to report units of measure. For instance, the names of all units of measurement should begin with a lower case. (The one exception is in “degree Celsius” where only the modifier “Celsius” is capitalized.)

A similar style rule is to use a single space between the numerical value and the symbol to which it refers. (For instance, 10 m, 81 degrees Fahrenheit, etc.) In names or symbols for units with prefixes, don’t leave a space between letters making up the symbol or name. (For example, milligram is abbreviated as mg, kilometer as km, etc.)

Want to give it a shot?

The following are examples of math problems involving directional, area and volume measurements, as well as the metric system.

Directional Measurement

1. A reporter is covering a bike race that extends between two cities. The distance from one city to another is 216 miles. Calculate how long it would take for the average biker to reach the other city if the biker pedals 4 hours a day at an average speed of 16 miles per hour.

Use the following formula:

Time = distance divided by rate

By plugging in the numbers, the amount of time it will take for the biker to reach his destination will equal 216 divided by 16, which is 13.5 hours. Then divide 13.5 by the rate (4 hours/day), which means it would take the biker approximately 3.4 days to reach his final destination.

Area Measurement

2. A company wants to purchase a small piece of land in order to expand its building. The piece of land will cost $10 per square foot, per year. The land is approximately 60 feet by 100 feet. At this rate, how much would the piece of land cost the company per year?

To solve this equation, first multiply 60 by 100 to find the total area in square feet (6,000). Next, multiply 6,000 by 1 in order to find the total cost, which is $60,000.

Volume Measurement

3. A company manufactures cars that weigh approximately 1.5 British tons, or long tons. How many pounds does this car weigh?

To solve this problem, use the conversions listed below:

1 long ton = 2,240 pounds

Since the car weighs 1.5 long tons, multiple 1.5 by 2,240. The car thus weighs approximately 1,493.3 pounds.

The Metric System

4. The international weather report says that tomorrow’s high temperature in Ecuador will be 36 degrees Celsius. How would you report this temperature in Fahrenheit for American readers?

For converting temperatures into Fahrenheit, use the following formula:

Fahrenheit = (1.8 x Celsius) + 32

By plugging in the temperature, the formula is (1.8 x 36) + 32. This means the temperature in Fahrenheit is 96.8 degrees.

May 5, 2009

Math Tools for Journalists: Covering Polls and Surveys, Business, Stocks and Bonds and Property Tax

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:42 am by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

Chapters Five through Eight of Math Tools for Journalists delve into more specific areas in which journalists will need to use math skills. These chapters detail the many ways that math can be used to your advantage to cover polls and surveys, business, stocks and bonds and property tax.

Gathering relevant data to enhance your reporting

 

Polling data can enhance a wide variety of stories, ranging from hard news to entertainment. Image from Getty Images.

Polling data can enhance a wide variety of stories, ranging from hard news to entertainment. Image from Getty Images.

Polls and surveys are an extremely important part of reporting. The data is useful in enhancing a journalist’s story, can provide the public with valuable information and is a practical tool for assessing public opinion. Polls and surveys are used in the coverage of a wide variety of stories, ranging from hard news to politics to entertainment.

 

However useful polls and surveys are, it is important to remember that they can often be skewed or only offer a small glimpse into public opinion. When reporting the numbers in polls and surveys, be careful that you are using the most accurate information that you can obtain, and that you have collected the data in a manner that will best represent true public opinion.

A wide range of polling methods

It is admittedly difficult to generate a poll that samples an adequate portion of the population. However, there are many methods that journalists can use to decrease the margin of error as much as possible.

The U.S. Census is a great resource for collecting data in the form of a population sample. Cluster sampling is a method that involves sampling the population of a specific region or ZIP code. Systematic random sampling is another common method that involves selecting a specific number, such as 15, then using a directory to poll every 15th person.

The margin of error

The margin of error is an important term for journalists to understand when working with polls and surveys. The margin of error indicates the degree of accuracy of the research based on standard norms. It is expressed as a percentage based on the size of the randomly selected sample. The goal of journalists is to poll as many people as possible because the more people polled, the smaller the possible margin of error.

The confidence level

The confidence level is a similar term with which journalists should be familiar. The confidence level of a particular poll or survey refers to the level, or percentage, at which researchers have confidence in the accuracy of their collected data. In other words, the confidence level is the probability of obtaining a given result by chance. Journalists should always report the confidence level in the story because it allows the readers to evaluate the information for themselves.

Census gives birth to adjusted and unadjusted figures

 

The U.S. Census commonly contains adjusted and unadjusted figures. Image from Getty Images.

The U.S. Census commonly contains adjusted and unadjusted figures. Image from Getty Images.

The U.S. Census is one of the most widely recognized examples of a survey. The census provides the public with all sorts of important numbers.

 

Adjusted and unadjusted figures frequently occur in each census. Adjusted figures are just what they sound like: figures that have been statistically manipulated to compensate for missing data. Adjusted and unadjusted numbers are released on every level, and it is expected that these figures will vary from one to four percent.

Using z scores and t scores

Z scores and t scores are often used in reporting the results of studies, so understanding how these figures work is an important skill for all journalists.

A z score, which is also called a “standard score,” shows how much a particular figure differs from the mean of a data set. The standard deviation is used as the unit measure.

The t score, also called “Student’s t distribution,” is used when the sample size is roughly 100 or fewer, and is closely related to the z score.

Formula:

Z score = (Raw score – mean) divided by standard deviation

 

Sample problems:

1.During the 2008 presidential election, a student conducted a poll of 300 people asking which candidate they favored. 54 percent favored Obama and 46 percent favored McCain. If the student conducted the poll at a 95 percent confidence level, what is the range (margin of error) in support for Obama?

According to the chart on page 73 of Math Tools for Journalists, a poll of 300 people at a 95 percent confidence level gives a margin of error of 5.7 percent. To calculate the range for the Obama supporters, simply add this percentage to the percentage favoring Obama to get the higher range, and subtract to get the lower range. (54 + 5.7 = 59.7 and 54 – 5.7 = 48.3) The margin of error for Obama supporters is then 48.3 percent to 59.7 percent.

2. You want to assess the net profit of a particular company over the past month. A small paper company paid 50 cents for each sheet of paper and sold them for 90 cents each. Over the period of one month the company sold 5000 sheets of paper. The only overhead is the office’s rent, which is $500 a month. Use the following formulas to calculate the net profit of the paper company:

Gross margin = selling price – cost of goods sold

Gross profit = gross margin x number of items sold

Net profit = gross margin – overhead

By plugging in the numbers we see that the paper company’s gross margin is 40 cents ( .9 – .5 = .4.) The gross profit is then $2000 (.4 x 5000 = 2000.) Finally, the net profit is $1500 a month, since the company must subtract the $500 rent overhead from the gross profit.

3. If Robert paid $500 for a $1,000 bond with a 5 percent interest rate, calculate his current yield.

The formula for calculating yield is:

current yield = (interest rate x face value) divided by price

By plugging these numbers in, you can find the current yield by (5% x $1000) divided by $500.) Therefore, the current yield is 10 percent.

4. Find the assessed value of a property, if the appraised value is $39,500 and the rate is 15% of the appraised value.

Calculate the assessed property value by using this simple formula:

Assessed value = appraised value x rate

By plugging in the values, you multiple $39,000 by 15%. The assessed value is then $5,850.

May 2, 2009

Elon University Department of Performing Arts Hosts Spring Dance Concert VIBE May 7-9

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:56 am by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

n92230487078_2809The Elon University Department of Performing Arts will host the VIBE spring dance concert Thursday, May 7 through Saturday, May 8 in McCrary Theatre. The performances will feature a compilation of dance pieces ranging from contemporary ballet to intense, modern pieces.

VIBE will showcase the talents of the choreographers, performers and tech crew. All featured dancers auditioned for the show during the fall 2008 semester, and have been hard at work ever since they were cast into dances.

Senior dance major Elizabeth “Zibby” McBride is particularly proud of the work that her fellow performers have put into the show and is eager to see all the hard work pay off in her final performance as an Elon student.

“This will certainly be a show to remember!” McBride said. “Every performance in the VIBE show will convey the strong dance program that we’re lucky enough to have in our community. VIBE will be a fun and thought-provoking show that everyone should come enjoy.”

VIBE will feature the choreography of famed choreographer Laura Dean. Her work includes a modern piece called “Breath of Fire” that combines two different casts in alternating shows.

Senior dance major Zibby McBride is particularly excited about her performance in the multimedia collaboration piece "I Live Here." Photo submitted by McBride.

Senior dance major Zibby McBride is particularly excited about her performance in the multimedia collaboration piece "I Live Here." Photo submitted by McBride.

“It is such an honor to dance in ‘Breath of Fire,’” McBride gushed, “especially when my dance history class is learning about Ms. Dean’s contribution’s to the dance world.”

Another unique aspect to the show will be the collaboration piece, “I Live Here.” This unprecedented multimedia event has brought together students and faculty in the performing arts school and the School of Communications.

“I Live Here” includes a set, live cellists and dancers while photos and video are simultaneously projected onto all sides of the audience.

“This is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen in the dance department,” McBride explains. “Not only can you watch this piece for the dance art, but also for the art of video and camera imaging that will encompass the audience. It will be an amazing piece that will bring together people from the different schools at Elon.”

The audience can also expect to see a “fun, entertaining piece” choreographed by Jane Wellford and a contemporary ballet piece called “Bolero” and an all-male ballet piece choreographed by Cherie Bower, in addition to many other performances.

Tickets are available at the Elon University Box Office from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, or one hour prior to each performance. Admission is $12 or free with a valid Elon student ID.

May 1, 2009

Elon University Students Recognize the Importance of Press Freedoms on World Press Freedom Day

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 3:44 pm by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

Journalists around the world celebrate the importance of press freedoms on World Press Freedom Day. Image from Getty Images.

Journalists around the world celebrate the importance of press freedoms on World Press Freedom Day. Image from Getty Images.

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day, a campaign that highlights the importance of freedom of the press. World Press Freedom Day reminds the government of the public’s right to freedom of expression protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This day is also an occasion to honor the many journalists that risk their lives, brave jail and even death, in the name of reporting.

Recognizing the importance of a free press

Although many Elon University students remain unclear of specific ideals of what World Press Freedom Day stand for, they still recognize the importance of a free press.

“A free press is important because there isn’t really another entity that has the ability to do the same things,” said Andie Diemer, editor-in-chief of Elon’s student newspaper, the Pendulum. “This is an entire industry that has based itself on serving the public within every aspect–not just one area like other companies. Everyone has to learn and be an expert on every topic before they share the information with the public. Often people don’t realize what a large undertaking it is to create a solid reputation. But without it, the truth within a lot of situations would never been reported.”

Keeping the public informed and not ‘stuck in a bubble’

Junior Chinwe Nwoko also recognizes the role that a free press plays in serving the public and keeping it informed.

“It’s good to know what’s going on and not be stuck in a bubble,” Nwoko said, “and to be able to make decisions about anything. (A free press is important) so you’re not kept in the dark and you have a more informed take on life.”

Click below to listen to Nwoko’s thoughts on the importance of press freedoms:

 

Free press particularly important to student media

Some students say it is particularly important for school media, such as the Pendulum, to enjoy press freedoms. They say if there were restrictions on the stories that were covered, Elon students could become misinformed, or even ignorant, of world events outside the walls of the university.

“I don’t really know a lot about press freedoms,” admitted freshman Erica Bentson, “but I think it’s a really important idea because when we are at Elon we are kind of living in our own world. If what we hear at Elon is censored, we wouldn’t have any idea of what is actually going on in the world and we wouldn’t be able to influence future events.”

Freshman Charlie Kazior agrees that media should not be censored.

“It is important for everyone to be able to voice their opinions,” Kazior said. 

World Press Freedom Day is an initiative that the World Association of Newspapers hosts annually. Each year it is celebrated by a number of international organizations, journalists and other media enthusiasts. This campaign provides opportunities for journalists to independently inform society by publishing any editorial or advertising material that appears on the WAN Web site, free of charge.

April 28, 2009

Math Tools for Journalists: The Language of Numbers

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:21 am by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

Although most journalists aren’t too fond of working with numbers, basic math skills are essential to writing good stories. But using math in your writing doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, most of the basics, as discussed in Chapters One through Four of Math Tools for Journalists, are actually quite simple… so don’t hesitate to take a deep breath and dive right in!

Don't worry: learning basic math tools for journalists doesn't have to be this complicated. Image by Getty Images.

Don't worry: learning basic math tools for journalists doesn't have to be this complicated. Image by Getty Images.

Chapter One, “The Language of Numbers,” explains the importance of using numbers to provide more complete reporting. Though journalists often tend to disassociate themselves from numbers, one quick glace at a newspaper proves otherwise.

Stories are often filled with various statistics that allow the reporter to make a stronger case for his or her story. A good journalist strives for “numerical literacy” to make the story the best it can be and provide readers with as much relevant information as possible.

Chapter One provides many tips that are essential for basic reporting with numbers. These include style, writing and language tips. One thing to keep in mind is you should always do as much math as you can for the readers, because they will not want to waste their time trying to do math while reading the story.

Do not write paragraphs that are too number heavy, or most readers will lose interest. Rather, sprinkle in relevant statistics when needed to make your case stronger, but be careful not to overuse numbers in your writing.

Chapters Two, Three and Four discuss the basics of percentages, statistics and federal statistics, respectively. Each of these chapters also includes important tips for using these tools to make your reporting as strong as possible.

Each chapter also concludes with practice problems that demonstrate the basic math skills discussed in the chapter. The following are similar problems that could very well be used in an actual story:

Chapter One: The Language of Numbers

1. This isn’t so much a math problem, as it is a demonstration of a few ways to properly report numbers following AP style. For numbers less than 10, write spell out the number. (Eight people were injured in the car accident this afternoon.) Whenever possible, round off numbers to the nearest decimal point. (The company donated $4.5 million dollars to the charity.) When numbers appear at the beginning of the sentence be sure to spell them out… although, it is preferable to refrain from using numbers at the beginning of the sentence. Instead, rearrange your word order.

Chapter Two: Percentages

2. Imagine you are covering a story about a high school principle. As you do more research, you realize that he has received a suspiciously high pay raise from one year to the next, and you think the public ought to know the percentage increase in his pay.  After looking over documents you find that last year’s pay was $89,700. This year, his salary jumped to nearly $113,000. What is the percentage increase in the principle’s pay?

In order to figure this out, first find the difference between the “old figure” and the “new figure. (In this case, 113,000 minus 89,700 = 23,300.) The next step is to take the difference and divide it by the old figure. (23,300 divided by 89,700 = .2597…) Finally, in order to convert this number to a percentage, simply move the decimal place two spots to the right. The principle’s percentage increase in pay is approximately 26 percent.

Chapter Three: Statistics

3. Let’s find the mean, median and mode of a set of data. Say you are covering a story that includes records of the number of students who are declared biology majors each year at a particular school. The numbers are as follows:

2003: 897

2004: 920

2005: 789

2006: 1023

2007: 945

2008: 923

In order to find the mean of the data set, first add up all the numbers to find a grand total. (897 + 920 + 789 + 1023 + 945 + 923 = 5,497.) Next, divide this figure by the total number of data sets. (5,497 divided by 6 =  916.1666…) Thus, the average is approximately 916 students. When finding the median, simply rewrite the numbers from highest to lowest and select the value that is in the middle of the data set. In this case, the two middle numbers, 920 and 923, should be averaged in order to find the median. (920 + 923 = 1,843. 1,843 divided by 2 = 921.5.) The median is 921.5. Since the mode refers to the most repeated number of the data set, there is no mode in this case because all the numbers are different values.

Chapter Four: Federal Statistics

4. Unemployment figures are prominent in many of today’s stories, in light of the economic downturn. In a hypothetic scenario, imagine that you want to report on the unemployment rate in North Carolina for the month of March. Let’s say that the labor force is approximately 1.4 million people. The latest statistics show that there were nearly 16,000 people who claimed to be unemployed during March. What is the unemployment rate?

The formula for calculating the unemployment rate is: unemployment rate = (unemployed divided by labor force x 100). By using this formula to plug in the data, the unemployment rate will equal 16,000 divided by 1.4 million, and that value multiplied by 100. (16,000 divided by 1.4 million = .01142… Multiply this by 100 and your answer is approximately 1.1 percent. Therefore, the unemployment rate in North Carolina for the month of March is approximately 1.1 percent.

April 26, 2009

Bestselling Author and Spiritual Leader Thomas Moore Speaks at Elon University About ‘The Soul of the University’

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 5:31 pm by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

Thomas Moore, bestselling author and noted spiritual leader, came to Elon University to speak about the ways in which the university can nourish the soul and prepare students to live a more fulfilling life.

Breathing in, breathing out

Bestselling author Thomas Moore tells Elon University that education has the potential to educate students in a way that "brings soul to the university."

Bestselling author Thomas Moore tells Elon University that education has the potential to teach students in a way that "brings soul to the university."

Moore describes the soul as “one of the greatest mysteries” of life.

“The soul allows you to breathe,” Moore explains. “There’s something about breathing. Not just physical breathing, but taking the world in, taking life in and breathing it out. That’s the nature of the soul.”

Shadow side of the soul

According to Moore, the second lesson the soul teaches is that breathing out links us to the darker side of the soul.

“The exhale, the letting things out, is sort of the shadow side of the soul,” he said. “As I’ve talked about this subject now for 20 years I’ve tried in every case not to give a romanticized, sentimental view of what the soul is. It has a dark side.”

Still, Moore doesn’t believe the dark side takes away from all that the soul has to offer. After years of working as a therapist, he says it has been his experience that the lighter side must coexist with the shadow side in order for the soul to be complete.

What can the university do for the soul?

Moore’s lecture addressed ways in which students in particular can achieve a healthy balance between the light and dark sides of the soul. An important question for students to ask themselves is ‘what can the university do for the soul?’

He wants students to realize the importance of maintaining individuality within a university setting. It is this sense of individuality that is key to nurturing the soul and living a meaningful life.

“What makes you you, and nobody else, is your soul,” Moore said. “Anything we do that gets away from our uniqueness and our individuality might be a moment away from the soul.”

Preserving the soul through our individuality

Moore says we have a tendency to easily forget the uniqueness inside of ourselves. He challenged the audience to reevaluate the way “we perceive our individuality” in order to preserve the soul. Rather than viewing the soul as something that is abstract, it should be thought of as a window into who the individual really is.

‘You can never discover the limits of the soul’

Moore quoted the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclites in reference to the infinite possibilities that the soul has to offer.

“Heraclites says this: ‘You can never discover the limits of the soul,’” Moore quoted. “‘No matter how many roads you are to take, so deep is its mystery.’ So you can’t even define the soul. “

Heraclites was one of the first people to discuss the soul in terms of death. Moore stresses the importance of thinking about the soul in these terms, though he admits it carries an “unfathomable depth.” Still, he encourages the audience to reflect deeply about the state of their soul because “the closer you get to yourself, the closer you get to your soul.”

Soul of the university ‘will remain mysterious and that’s a good thing’

Moore then applied this mentality to the idea of the university. He sees education as having the potential to offer more than just the obvious tools to students willing to learn.

“There is something of great depth in the soul of this place,” he said. “We will never figure out what we are doing and who we are in this place. It will remain mysterious and that’s a good thing.”

But rather than allow the mysteriousness give to frustration, Moore believes the university should strive to preserve its history. In this way, he says the university will maintain, rather than lose, its individuality and depth.

“This place is going to be like no other university,” Moore said. “Don’t compare yourself to Harvard or the other places. Your soul can be lost. So it’s very important to maintain your individuality as a university.”

Click below to listen to Moore address how to maintain the individuality of the university:

 

Retell stories, ‘talk freely and with pleasure’ about the past

He says one major way for the university to maintain its individuality is through the retelling of stories. Moore says the soul treasures the past, making storytelling a truly soulful moment. It allows for people to “talk freely and with pleasure” about meaningful moments in life.

“The soul… really does treasure the past,” he said. “It gets fed by the past. To keep your story of the past… will keep it in your memory.”

“Another way to bring soul to the university is to understand that education is also therapy,” Moore said. “Education, if it touches the student’s soul, is a kind of therapeutics in the sense that you are not only teaching and instructing the person but the education itself… can heal that person’s soul. It can nurse the soul. It can give ideas to students that can help them deal with life and find out who they are. Education can do this, and should do this.”

University should guide students, encourage them to examine human life

Moore says it is possible to educate students in a way that addresses the souls of the students that are learning. Rather than simply focusing on teaching the minds of students, the university should aim to guide students and give them the tools they need to “examine what human life is really about.”

Moore emphasized the importance of the university doing its best to prepare students beyond a shallow, intellectual education.

“There’s nothing wrong with seeing the part of education that will train people to get a job and make a living,” Moore explained. “But let’s say that’s…the bottom line. (Education) must create citizens that are individuals who can think for themselves, who can live their own lives and create out of their individuality.”

April 21, 2009

Earth Week Convenience Sample Reveals Elon University Students are Environmentally Conscious

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 5:32 pm by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

Proponents of Earth Week can breathe a sigh of relief. A convenience sample of nearly 140 members of the Elon University community reveals that the majority of individuals is concerned about the well being of the global environment and is doing its part to “go green.”

Increasing environmental awareness through education

According to a recent convenience survey, nearly 65% of those polled practice recycling on a regular basis. Image from Getty Images.

According to a recent convenience survey, nearly 65% of those polled practice recycling on a regular basis. Image from Getty Images.

Nearly 90 percent of those polled consider themselves to be environmentally aware, and 73 percent said various aspects of their Elon education have made a difference in their level of environmental awareness.

Senior Jack Garratt feels especially passionate toward environmental issues after taking Energy and the Environment during Winter Term.

“I’m definitely not the most green,” Garratt confessed, “but I am now aware of the issues (surrounding environmental awareness) and I know the pros and cons of different energy sources. I also try to recycle, put halogen light bulbs in my lamps, I don’t leave the water running when I shave. You know, it’s just the little things.”

Taking personal action through ‘the little things’

The convenience sample showed that many students share Garratt’s concerns about global warming and recognize the importance of taking action in their daily lives.

Approximately 69 percent of those polled are actively taking some form of personal action to protect the environment. Common actions include recycling, which nearly 65 percent practice on a regular basis, reducing personal carbon footprints and opting to walk instead of drive whenever possible.

Walking, rather than driving, is another common way that the environmentally conscious help reduce their carbon footprint. Image from Getty Images.

Walking, rather than driving, is another common way that the environmentally conscious help reduce their carbon footprint. Image from Getty Images.

“I try to be really careful about recycling and taking care of the environment,” said freshman Mallory Greshenfeld.

Junior Samantha Miller is also careful to remain environmentally conscious.

“We don’t ever turn the gas on in our house,” Miller said. “The thermostat is always off, so if it’s hot, it’s hot. If it’s cold, it’s cold.”

Still, some remain apathetic to environmental issues

Others are less concerned about increasing their environmental awareness and decreasing their personal carbon footprint.

“I guess I’m environmentally aware, but I’m not really concerned about global warming and I’m not taking any personal action,” said freshman Ruth Walter. “I don’t know that I could say why, it’s just one of those things I haven’t really thought about.

Junior Tessa Conte embodies members of the Elon community who consider themselves to be environmentally aware and are concerned about global warming, yet refrain from taking personal action.

Click below to hear Conte share why it is important to be environmentally conscious:

 

“Global warming is a concern to me, but I’m not currently doing anything about it,” Conte admitted. “I do feel it is very important to be environmentally conscious because we are the future. I currently am not doing anything actively to help the environment, which I very much do regret, but it’s difficult to take time out of your day to do an exuberant amount of work.”

 

Bags of trash make up the Landfill on the Lawn display on the lawn in front of Octagon to represent just a small portion of students' waste. The display is part of Elon's celebration of Earth Week. Photo by Ashley Dischinger.

Bags of trash make up the Landfill on the Lawn display on the lawn in front of Octagon to represent just a small portion of students' waste. The display is part of Elon's celebration of Earth Week. Photo by Ashley Dischinger.

Elon celebrates with Earth Week

Elon’s second annual Earth Week celebration takes place Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24. Two student organizations, the Green Team and Sierra Club are working to raise awareness about environmental sustainability in hopes that they can educate the Elon community on how to become more actively involved in the cause. The organizations will host several events including a pot luck dinner, and Earth Week-themed College Coffee, Landfill on the Lawn and speakers that will address “carbon-free living.”

Click below to listen to Griffin Sager-Gellerman, a member of the Green Team, explain the idea behind Landfill on the Lawn:

 

April 17, 2009

Elon University Professor Ken Calhoun Speaks to Students about the Flavors of Interactive Media

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:43 pm by Ashley

By Ashley Dischinger

Elon University Professor Ken Calhoun educated students during class on how to extend their reach in journalism through the use of interactive media. Calhoun, a professor of new media with an extensive background in the professional field, advised students on the many ways to tell a story through interactive media.

‘Writing is where all of this starts’

“Writing skills are the foundation for this endeavor, and I think that’s absolutely, totally, completely true,” Calhoun said. “Writing is where all of this starts, it’s how we communicate in our most basic format.”

Calhoun believes that interactive media provides journalists with the tools to enrich communication beyond just words.

“Interactive media is allowing us to communicate in other ways, all informed by our writing… but can be used to tell stories in different ways to reach wider audiences,” he explained.

Adding a conversational element to traditional media

One important concept associated with interactive media is that of conversation. Unlike primitive forms of journalism, interactive media incorporate new technology that allows for choice. Calhoun compared the concept to “the earliest, non-digital form of interactivity”: the choose your own ending book.

Using the ‘three flavors of interactive media’

Calhoun discussed what he refers to as the “three flavors of interactive media,” which include storytelling, responsive visuals and conversation. He believes that each of these elements is key for journalists to create more career options, more communication options and to generate more “immersive, media-rich work.”

“The idea is that you are bringing people deeper into the narrative,” Calhoun said. “Multimedia is supposed to do that because it allows you to use sound, images, time… all those tools that try to make the experience more immersive… it invites the audience to help craft their experience.”

Click below to listen to Calhoun talk about the strategies of storytelling through interactive media:

Calhoun elaborated on the advantages of interactive storytelling methods that allow the audience to navigate through the story rather than be limited to a linear presentation of information. In this way, the experience is no longer passive but instead calls for active participation.

Allowing viewers to navigate themselves through the story

He demonstrated this theory by showing several Web sites that require the active participation of viewers to complete the experience. Interactive narratives through the posting of YouTube videos are some of the most commonly used media experiences through which viewers can navigate themselves.

Other examples include stories that can be told spatially, such as on the Second Story Interactive Studios Web site; interactive maps, such as the elaborate Monticello Web site that allows viewers to virtually explore all aspects of the plantation; and Late Fragment, a project that recently debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and demonstrates how different storytelling muscles will be exercised.

Improving the way audiences experience a story

The above are just a sample of the many storytelling media that are continually being developed and improved on a daily basis. The combination of formats and new storytelling strategies is producing unprecedented ways in which audiences can experience a story.

“The point is there are interactive media opportunities out there to tell stories, to create conversations, to use responsive visuals in ways that you have to… start getting your head around,” Calhoun said. “The bottom line is see the media that’s available to you, fit it to your intentions of the story… and make it so that you’re telling the story in the most effective way possible.”

Calhoun will be teaching classes to graduate students in Elon’s new Master of Arts in Interactive Media program in summer 2009.  This one-year, full-time program will allow students to learn both the theory and production of interactive media content. For more information about the program, visit the Web site, read the iMedia blog, follow the program on Twitter or check out the latest information on its Facebook page.

April 15, 2009

Student Internships at Elon University: Necessary for Success… or Just Unnecessary Stress?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 12:16 am by Ashley

Click here to view the full design layout

By Ashley Dischinger

Two years ago, Elon University freshman Alison Beck found herself taking a deep breath and saying a quick prayer before hastily turning on her computer. It had been a seemingly endless semester of pouring over internship possibilities for the upcoming summer, which was now just three short weeks away.

For Beck, a process that began with feelings of enthusiasm and optimism was now reduced to a constant state of apprehension. She spent countless hours applying for internships in the editorial departments of five separate magazines.

Four months later, all she had to show for her efforts was a generic response from one magazine saying, “We have received your resume. Our team will review it and get back to you.”

Except that like so many other companies, they never did.

As Beck began to envision another summer of working retail, and another year of an empty resume, she logged into her e-mail account one last time. Much to her shock, there was an unopened message in her inbox from a Marie Claire address. She instantly clicked on the message and was ecstatic after reading that the magazine had accepted her as a summer fashion intern.

“I felt like there was so much pressure for me to get an internship, mostly because of Elon’s high standards,” Beck explained. “At that point there were essentially two weeks left of school and I had set in my mind that I wasn’t going to get an internship. I was in shock that I got it because I had interviewed (with Marie Claire) so long ago and still hadn’t heard anything.”

 

Junior English major Alison Beck (first row, far right) remembers feeling a sense of relief after Marie Claire magazine hired her to be a summer fashion intern.

Junior English major Alison Beck (first row, far right) remembers feeling a sense of relief after Marie Claire magazine hired her to be a summer fashion intern in 2007. This photo was taken with Beck's personal camera.

An exploding number of student interns

Beck’s feelings of anxiety surrounding her internship placement are becoming more commonplace among college students. The number of Elon students registering for internships in their respective majors is continuing to steadily increase with each passing year. Out of nearly 5,000 undergraduate students, 694 students have registered for at least one internship during the 2008-2009 academic year.

 

All student internship data compiled by Debby Wall, Assistant Director for Employer Relations and Experiential Education at Elon Career Services.

All student internship data compiled by Debby Wall, Assistant Director for Employer Relations and Experiential Education at Elon Career Services. Chart by Ashley Dischinger.

 

Elon’s School of Communications is one school that requires students to complete at least one internship prior to graduation. During the 2002-2003 academic year, when the school first listed the internship requirement in the catalogue, there were 112 students registered to intern. The numbers steadily increased over the years, with 221 student interns registered through Elon for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Nagatha Tonkins, the School of Communications Internship Director, adamantly believes in the necessity of pushing students to intern.

“Students should take advantage of internship opportunities to enhance their skills, network and determine where their interests and talents lie,” Tonkins said. “Businesses are now looking for students who are versatile and can produce on multiple platforms.”

Setting high standards

Junior Morgan Morris, who had her first internship with Peacefrog Records in the fall, agrees that businesses seem to be developing higher standards for the interns they look to hire.

“Society does pretty much demand college students graduating in modern times to have just as much practical experience as they do academic,” Morris explained. “Employers are looking for someone involved who has handled the stress (of a workplace) and knows how to function in a real-life situation that is not theoretical.”

As employers seek out interns who have the most to offer the company, the competition to be hired is more cutthroat. For students looking to intern, the stakes are high and the pressure is higher.

Students overcome by a ‘worried pressure’

Junior Business majors Kelsey Gwilt and Chad Ervin spent the Fall 2009 semester in London interning in Parliament. Though Gwilt felt a "worried pressure" to secure an internship, she believes the experience she gained was invaluable.

Junior business majors Kelsey Gwilt and Chad Ervin spent their Fall 2009 semester in London interning at Parliament. Though Gwilt felt a "worried pressure" to secure an internship, she believes the professional work experience she gained was invaluable. The photo was taken by a stranger on Gwilt's personal camera.

Junior business major Kelsey Gwilt was relieved when she was hired to work as an assistant to a Member of Parliament in London during the fall of 2008.

“I’ve always been told through teachers and parents, and it’s basically known in society, that you have to have previous work experience to be a valuable asset to a company,” Gwilt said. “I felt a worried pressure to get this internship, and it was so cool to actually be hired by (Parliament).”

Many other college students feel the “worried pressure” that Gwilt expressed. In a survey of 52 Elon students of varying years and majors, 81 percent of respondents say it is common to feel some form of concern to have an internship before they graduate.  Only 13.9 percent think that students might feel stress, while a mere 1.9 percent believe it is not an issue.

A necessary stepping stone to a brighter future?

But according to the majority of the community, the push to have an internship experience is a very real issue. It is one that resonates deeply in the minds of most students who aspire to have a distinguished career after walking out the doors of Elon for the final time.

“When I first got to Elon my freshman year I immediately felt pressure to get started (with internships) right away… and it was nerve-wracking,” admits junior Ashley Barnas. She now has three internships under her belt and feels her anxiety decreasing with each experience.

“I’m applying for my fourth internship this coming summer,” Barnas said, “but I don’t feel that much pressure anymore because I already have so much experience to show future employers.”

Click below to listen to junior Ashley Barnas reminisce over aspects of her internship experiences:

 

Others have less professional work experience than Barnas. According to the same survey of 52 Elon students, 38.5 percent have only had one internship. Nearly 37 percent have yet to intern anywhere, a high percentage considering the amount of students that find it necessary to intern before graduation.

Internships can ‘put extra weight on our shoulders’

Some students view the pressures intertwined with internships as negative and reduce the idea of interning to merely another troublesome task to complete.

According to an anonymous participant in the Elon survey, “The push to get an internship is so hard, and if you don’t get one you feel like you aren’t prepared for the real world.”

A second anonymous participant said internships “put an extra weight on our shoulders, as if we don’t have enough already, and it doesn’t get lifted until you do an internship.”

Giving incentive to pursue future career goals

But many students channel their frustrations into a more positive outlook. Rather than viewing an internship as a burden, they choose to look at the bigger picture. In a sense, they believe any stress they experience is simply a catalyst to strive toward their goals.

Junior Heather Couture, who is interning at Chase Public Relations in London during the Spring 2009 semester, is one student that welcomed the strain she felt to gain work experience through an internship.

“I have always felt tons of pressure to get internships before graduation,” Couture said. “Elon really pushes it, but I also know it would be hard to find a job after graduation without one. (Internships) create a lot of unnecessary stress, but at the same time I think that it needs to be there to push students.”

Elon key in providing internship resources for all students

As a school that emphasizes engagement and experiential learning, Elon undoubtedly encourages its students to intern. At the same time, the university offers countless resources to aid in the job search.

Junior Stacey Popowitz praises the School of Education for providing students with an abundance of teaching opportunities. Popowitz, who looks forward to teaching at an elementary school after graduation, completed a practicum her freshman year and worked as a teacher’s assistant in the fall of 2008.

“I haven’t really felt that much stress to have more internships because of my major,” Popowitz said. “Elementary education majors have tons of opportunities to student teach before going out into the real world, which is really great.”

Click below to hear junior Stacey Popowitz discuss all the benefits of interning abroad:

Recent push to educate students on their options

Maggie Mullikin, the School of Communications assistant coordinator of internships, reinforces the idea that Elon’s programs help place students at an advantage.

 “In the last couple years there has been a tremendous push to make students aware of the importance of internships and the help that (Elon) offers,” Mullikin said.

The School of Communications especially emphasizes the importance of internships and compiles many resources to aid students in the application process. Tonkins and Mullikin work tirelessly in the internship office to assist students with their needs.

Students have access to the information database known as the “Internship Switchboard.” The database includes the names of all registered communications student interns, a list of the sites at which students have interned and contact information for all internship sites.

“The best advice I can give students is to take advantage of the resources that Elon has to offer,” Mullikin said. “Elon will hold the students’ hands, but at the same time prepares them for their work experience.”

Gaining faith while preparing for life in the professional workplace

Elon students who have held internships feel more than prepared for their future endeavors outside of Elon. Not only have internships had a positive impact on students’ college experience in general, but the work experience has also helped further their education.

“During my internship I learned applicable uses of the skills I’ve learned in the classroom, and I was able to use those skills with people in the workforce,” explained junior Josh Tate. “Also, the tangible work I brought back (from the internship) is an amazing investment in the future.”

Morris, who is double majoring in political science and journalism, said she gained knowledge that will help her regardless of the field she goes into. For Morris, the internship was about the bigger picture, knowing that she would learn the skills to assist her in any work environment.

“Some skills cannot be learned in the classroom, but have to be gained through practical experience,” Morris said. “I loved my internship. Through completing the tasks I gained faith in myself to function productively in an office environment.”

Despite nightmares, ‘everything will be just fine’

All stress and frustrations aside, an internship is as much a necessity as it is an invaluable tool to students. The competition within the internship market is rapidly escalating, yet it has evolved into a stepping-stone that is virtually impossible to avoid.

Nearly two years later, Beck reminisces over her Marie Claire internship and smiles.

“Even though a lot of the work I did at my internship was really tough, not to mention the nightmare of applying, I always kept in the back of my mind that everything I was doing… I would be gaining something from it,” Beck said. “I know that in the end it was worth all the pressure. I feel like I could graduate tomorrow and everything would be just fine.”

Next page