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Communication Arts Faculty Member Explores Russian Folk Discourse on Problem Drinking

Elena Nuciforo, Visiting Instructor in Communication Arts, is the author of “Russian Folk Discourse on Problem Drinking,” appearing in the Russian Journal of Communication. Professor Nuciforo’s article explores how problem drinking is defined in the Russian folk discourse. Nuciforo uses cultural discourse analysis to explore two key terms, “to drink” and “to get drunk,” and their clusters. Both key terms indicate significant devastation and problems from a public health perspective, since Russian society has long suffered from the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption. In the folk discourse, these two ways of problem drinking differ in their influence on people’s personality, relations, behavior, emotions, and their location in the nature of things.

The Journal of Russian Communication is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes theoretical and empirical papers and essays and books reviews that advance an understanding of communication in, with, and about Russia. The journal welcomes original theoretical, empirical, critical, comparative, and historical studies and is open to all methodological perspectives. The journal is published in cooperation with the Russian Communication Association (RCA) and the North American Russian Communication Association (NARCA).

Elena V. Nuciforo earned her PhD in communication from the University of Massachusetts. She also holds a Master of Education degree from the Center for International Education at UMass Amherst and a higher education diploma in teaching English as a foreign language from Buryat State University in Ulan-Ude, Russia. Dr. Nuciforo’s research focuses on social interaction, Russian culture and communication, and health communication. Her dissertation was devoted to cultural discourse analysis of Russian alcohol consumption and its symbolic construction among Russian people, in Russian public policy, and in Russian state-sponsored media. She is a native of Russia and has extensive experience working in international and intercultural environments, both in Russia and the USA.

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Unique Communication Arts Class Featured in FIU News

Communication Arts students made FIU News headlines this week for participating in a unique philanthropy-themed communication class in which they gave away $25,000! The funds were donated by a pair of philanthropic FIU Panthers who wanted to expose students to the serious side of giving and introduce them to the many South Florida non-profits and the work they do.

Read all about this unique experiment in real-world service learning in FIU News’ “Public Speaking Students Award $25,000 to Environmental Group.”


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Fully Engaged CARTA Board Meeting Took Place at Gus Berenblum’s Office in Wynwood

Gus Berenblum, principal of Berenblum Busch Architecture (BBA), generously hosted the CARTA Advisory Board meeting at his office in the Wynwood district at noon on February 9th, 2015.

During this very productive meeting, Dean Brian Schriner discussed CARTA 2020, the Miami Creative City Initiative with the direction of Dr. Richard Florida, and the Bauhaus Miami with the collaboration of Dr. Claudia Perren, Director of the Bauhaus Dessau.

Larry Kline from Perkins & Will presented the new partnership with CARTA for the creation of a new Healthcare Design track in the School of Architecture.

Bernardo Fort-Brescia, founding principal of Arquitectonica, was recognized for having the winning bid for the redesign of the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Alfred Karram Jr, Chairman of the Urban Studios Advisory Board, made a presentation on their involvement with the City of Miami Beach Centennial.

Rick Tonkinson, Chairman of the CARTA Advisory Board, discussed Josh Oberhausen speaking to the Communication Arts students, the status of hiring a Career Development Officer, and the grand opening of the RCCL building at the FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus on March 20, 2015. Dean Schriner is making arrangements for the board members to attend the grand opening and to receive a private tour.

Rick also discussed the Martin and Connie Silver Award, which is a scholarship for students to explore how to assimilate artwork and collections of art into their architecture designs.

Rick announced the School of Architecture Career Fair on March 25th and Jason Chandler, Chair and Associate Professor, provided the details at the board meeting.

Rick let the board know that the Department of Interior Architecture is ranked in the top 10 in the nation by Design Intelligence and Janine King, Chair and Associate Professor, stated that 1,108 professional practice organizations participated in the ranking.

Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Julian Kreeger, President of Friends of Chamber Music of Miami for 25 years, had a very insightful conversation that started with Bernardo asking “What is the ideal size of a venue in order to be able to create the right amount of buzz (sizzle) for a theatre or music production?” A discussion ensued over this fundamental and critical question, which that is often never addressed. “Buildings are overbuilt and there is too much capacity so when it is half full, it still looks empty,” said Bernardo. Julian thought that 300 seats is small enough to create a demand for attendance. “This conversation was in essence why the College of Architecture + The Arts are combined at FIU because it brings the two points of view together. At most universities, this conversation would not take place. With most cultural arts centers, they are built over capacity because the decision makers want something grandiose. It is their way or the highway so when it is built, presenters have to deal with trying to fill up the room. Chamber Music does not need a 2,600 seat auditorium,” said Rick Tonkinson. “We just witnessed in a conversation the unique philosophy of CARTA,” added Rick.

Rick was pleased to announce that David Harper, President and CEO of HADP Architecture, is joining the board. He named the atrium of the Green Library at FIU and is a major donor.

The next meeting will be at hosted by Daniel de la Vega in April. Daniel is president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

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Sizzling Jazz Trombone Concert by John Fedchock was Stellar

On Saturday, February 7th, the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall had a stellar performance of John Fedchock, a Grammy Award nominated arranger and world class trombone soloist.

John played with the FIU Faculty Jazz Ensemble, which included Gary Campbell (its Director), Cisco Dimas, Hal Roland, Jaime Ousley, Osvaldo Vargas, and Tom Lippincott for the first half of the performance.

For the second half, the sizzling sound of the FIU Studio Big Band under the direction of Jim Hacker played with John on seven of his tunes.

“We have enjoyed very special jazz concerts in New York City where John has played for over 20 years and this FIU concert was of a Carnegie Hall quality,” said Rick and Margarita Tonkinson who sponsored the event.

Earlier in the day, John taught a master class to seven high school jazz bands.

John Fedchock enjoyed playing with the faculty and students. “We all had a real great time,” said John.

Header image is of John Fedchock.

John Fedchock and FIU trombonist Tom Savage

John Fedchock and FIU trombonist Tom Savage

John Fedchock and the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band

John Fedchock and the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band

Group Photo

Left to right: Rick Tonkinson – Sponsor, Jim Hacker – Director of the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band, Bob Dundas – Chair of FIU School of Music, Bill Hipp – Past Chair of FIU School of Music, and John Fedchock – World class trombonist


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Demand for Communication Arts Degrees Soars

Results of a 2014 study reported in the Huffington Post reveal that Communication Studies (also commonly called “Communication Arts”) is fast emerging as an in-demand degree by students.  This comes as no surprise to the Communication Arts Department at Florida International University.  Since the department began offering the degree just over two years ago, the number of students has soared from the initial dozen to over 1000 in both the traditional face-to-face and fully online programs.  This exponential growth in the academic field generally referred to as “Communication” is a result of various factors, according to author Jason Schmitt in his article, “Communication Studies Rise to Relevance.”  The broad nature of the discipline, which encompasses the theory and practice of communication, is evident in the partial list of course topics it includes: rhetoric, persuasion, conflict management, debate, interpersonal and intercultural communication, small group communication, organizational management, and social media. This diversity of key knowledge and skill areas, makes Communication Studies/[Communication Arts] very desirable as a relevant and transferable course of study. Schmitt attributes “the digital economy, social networking and the move toward media creation” as contributing to employers’ desire for Communication Studies/[Communication Arts] graduates. “I think as students become a little more careerist, they search for a degree that is flexible and adaptable and I think communication provides for both of those,” says Betsy Bach, Communication Studies Professor at University of Montana. “It is the right [degree] at the right time,” says Schmitt.

To read the full story and see the study results, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-schmitt/communication-studies-ris_b_6025038.html

To find out more about FIU’s Communication Arts degree, go to http://carta.fiu.edu/comm-arts/


Written by Char Eberly and Gabriella Portella, FIU Communication Arts

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Communication Arts Staff Member Featured in Special Art Exhibition at FIU

When Communication Arts staff member Sarah Shoulak participated in the FIU Faculty, Staff & Family art exhibition last spring, she did not realize her art piece would be chosen to go on display at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential House in a special exhibition. Each year, as part of the FIU Spring Picnic, staff members are invited to share their original works of art in the community gallery at the Frost Art Museum. President Mark B. Rosenberg selects his favorite works to be part of an exhibition in his home curated by the museum staff. Shoulak, along with nine other FIU staff members, will have the distinct honor to have their works on display until Fall 2015.

Shoulak’s energetic mosaics are complex terrains created from recycled materials such as old pamphlets, flyers, and business cards that she finds around the city. The work she has on display is made from recycled materials found at FIU, particularly old materials found in the CommArts Studio. Her artworks are constructed piece-by-piece and when seen up close one can decipher the different recycled materials carefully and methodically folded up next to each other. From afar, the mosaics have a Seurat-esque feel with the blend of colors coming together and falling into each other, ultimately creating a beautiful, complete image. Each intricate mosaic is made from 2,000 to 4,000 half-inch pieces of paper and take from 10 to 16 hours to construct.

Since beginning her pursuit of art in March 2014, Shoulak has shown her works at several art institutions in South Florida, including the Frost Art Museum, Art Center Wynwood, and LMNT Gallery. She currently owns an art company, Kateri Art and Design, through which she promotes and sells her mosaics. She is finishing up her graduate degree in Communication Studies from the University of Miami and works as a Program Assistant for Communication Arts at FIU.


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Communication Arts Spring 2015 Speak-Off

On February 11, three students battled it out in the FIU Communication Arts Department’s semi-annual “Speak-Off”event. With more than 150 students attending, this year’s competition centered around the theme of “Crossing Borders” and directed participants to present their arguments on the global effects of communication and how communication has the power to connect the far corners of the world like never before. The three finalists, Krista Shuckerow, Derek Barcelo, and Victor Naziazeni (pictured left to right above), were selected from audition tapes and all delivered their speeches with passion and pizzazz. After the judges deliberated and the votes were in, Victor Naziazeni was declared the winner for his confident delivery, style, and organization. Krista Shuckerow received second place, and Derek Barcelo took third place.

Victor Naziazeni, a junior at FIU, discussed how modern technology has broken down barriers and improved our world. He argued this point by showing data from the research of Max Roser, a James Martin Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford Martin School, on inequality and the increase in inclusiveness in recent years. Krista Shuckerow talked about the power of communication to create a movement promoting women’s education around the world. She argued that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms . . . regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other views, national or social origin, class, wealth, birth, or other status.” Derek Barcelo, a junior at FIU, spoke on cyber activism, the process of using Internet-based socializing and communication techniques to create, operate, and manage activism. He advised the “baby boomers” not to denigrate his generation for their obsession with technology, arguing that if social media had existed in the sixties, we would see a lot of selfies of Woodstock and other events from the baby boomers’ youth.

Senior Marketing major and past Speak-Off winner David Bell served as the emcee of the event and entertained the crowd with his witty banter. The judges were current Communication Arts students.

The Speak-Off has been a biannual event for decades. Designed to showcase the talents of public speaking students, the Communication Arts Department Speak-Off competition gives students the opportunity to show off their rhetorical and oratorical skills and inspire others through the power of their words. Competitors are provided with a basic topic related to communication and tasked with creating their ideas into a compelling and powerful 4-6 minute speech. Finalists are then chosen from an array of submissions by the coaches at the CommArts Studio and Public Speaking faculty, who go on to deliver their prose to a large audience of their professors and peers at the Speak-Off.

The Speak-Off speech competition is open to all FIU students enrolled in Public Speaking classes who want to showcase their speaking abilities. Speeches adhere to a selected theme and applicants develop their speeches to educate, inform and inspire. For more information, visit: http://carta.fiu.edu/comm-arts/students/student-organizations/speak-off/


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CommArts Studio Puts Student Tech Fees to Work

When FIU Communication Arts major Paula Navarrete showed up at the CommArts Studio on the Modesto Maidique campus recently looking for an appointment, she reaped the benefit of over $80,000 in new technology, funded by the tech fees paid by her and her fellow students. With a tech fee award, the CommArts Studio was able to purchase and install a PolyCom teleconferencing system in its Modesto Maidique Campus Debate Studio (VH 219) and its Biscayne Bay Main Studio (HL 155) locations. Along with the teleconferencing system, state-of-the-art presentation and audio-visual equipment was installed, including a 102-inch wide screen (BBC), a 70-inch monitor (MMC), and 55-inch confidence monitors, computers, microphones, cameras, and speakers on both campuses. In addition, the larger BBC Studio has a complete “course capture” system provided by FIU Media Engineering, which allows for one touch recording and uploading of presentations and talks.

This new technology allowed Navarrete to connect live with CommArts Studio coach Audrey Shaffer, who was over 25 miles away at the BBC CommArts Studio. Seeing each other in high definition and real time, Navarrete and Shaffer had a normal coaching session, which lasted for 30 minutes. The session included Navarrete delivering her speech to Shaffer and receiving feedback and tips from Shaffer on how to tweak it for a stronger presentation.

Navarrete was skeptical at first, not sure how effective her coaching session would be when the coach was not in the same room. She was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that through the “magic” of teleconferencing, it felt like Shaffer was right there with her. “It was amazing! She could see and hear me perfectly. When I stood up to deliver my speech, she could hear every one of my ‘um’s’ and see every one of my Powerpoint slides, which, she pointed out, had too many words on them. Maybe it was a little too real,” Navarrete laughed.

Shaffer agreed: “This is a great use of technology. It allows me to do everything I would do with students in face-to-face coaching sessions, except touch.  I can jot down notes and we can review them together. I can virtually manage the entire session from a distance, even down to asking them to shut off the light and lock the door on their  way out.”

For more information on the CommArts Studio and its teleconferencing system, please visit communicate.fiu.edu.


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Comm. Arts Faculty Member Explores Mother-Adopted Child Dialogues

Dr. Lynne Webb, Professor in Communication Arts, co-wrote an essay entitled “Mothers’ Reports of Challenging Conversations with their Adopted Children,” which appears as Chapter 13 in Performing Motherhood: Artistic, Activist, and Everyday Enactments.

The chapter addresses the identities of adoptive mothers by spotlighting the ways in which these mothers are constantly in the process of rewriting their children’s adoption story scripts. Specifically, it examines what communication strategies adoptive mothers report as the most effective way of addressing issues that arise in mother-child conversations about the child’s adoptive status. Webb serves as a second author for this essay on communication strategies of adoptive mothers. This research was drawn from its first author’s (Elyse Warford) thesis, directed by Webb.

Performing Motherhood explores relationships between performativity and the maternal. This collection examines a mother’s creativity and agency as they perform in everyday life: in mothering, in activism, and in the arts. Chapters contain theoretically grounded works that emerge from multiple disciplines and cross-disciplines and include first-person narratives, empirical studies, artistic representations, and performance pieces. This book focuses on motherwork, maternal agency, mothers multiple identities and marginalized maternal voices, and explores how these are performatively constituted, negotiated and affirmed.

This collection is a “remarkable collection of studies about mothering that combines scholarly theory, personal and professional passion, and hope for change through creating new choices. The voices of the writers reveal not only their diverse personalities and experiences of what constitutes family but also the range of challenges they face and their creative interactions with the role of mother, especially new mother. Using a variety of research traditions, they explore the diversity of performing motherhood. A must read for academic mothers and daughters,” said Alice H. Deakins, William Paterson University, Editor of Mothers and Daughters: Complicated Connections Across Cultures.

“This book reached in and quenched a thirst for connection in me. I realized how unaware I had previously been of my deep yearning for connection with mothers specifically through considerations of the performance of mothering. Through the rich array of stories and studies in this book, I felt as though I gained a back stage glimpse of how others perform the role of mother and to what reviews. This is a must read for both scholars and enthusiasts accessible, smart and richly varied,” said Beth Osnes, Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Colorado and Author of Theatre for Women’s Participation in Sustainable Development.

Performing Motherhood contains 19 chapters across 312 pages and is available on amazon.com. Its editors are Amber E. Kinser, Professor of Communication at East Tennessee State University; Kryn Freehling-Burton, Senior Instructor and E-Campus Advisor at Oregon State; and Terri Hawkes, Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies PhD student at New York University.

Professor Webb (PhD, University of Oregon) conducts research on computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. She joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the University of Arkansas faculty where she was named a J. William Fulbright Master Researcher. The courses she teaches at FIU include Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Communication in Social Media.

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Panther Alumni Week Welcomes Olivia Alvarez and Bobby Behar

Throughout this past week, FIU alumni returned to campus to speak to current students. Panther Alumni Week (PAW) was designed to give alumni an opportunity to interact with — and inspire — today’s students. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions to alumni and learn from their experiences. This year, Communication Arts speakers included Olivia Alvarez ’12 and Bobby Behar ’14.

“I am very excited for this fabulous transition. Given that I have been involved in the cigar industry for almost a decade with my family, it is incredibly thrilling to take part in it doing what I love,” said Olivia Alvarez, one of the department’s earliest graduates who has recently been named Director of Marketing and Communications at J Fuego Cigars.

Alvarez graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s in Communication Arts and a minor in Global Media Communications. Prior to graduating, she was an Editorial/Marketing Coordinator for Selecta Magazine and later became Managing Editor for CasaLife Magazine, Selecta’s sister publication.

Also returning for PAW was Robert Behar, currently an FIU law student, who was excited to return to reunite with the faculty that inspired him to do better. He spoke to students about the power of communication and explained how his degree has prepared him for law school by developing skills such as conflict management, understanding the dynamic of a study group, and learning to network with other professionals. In addition, courses like conflict management, persuasion, and ethics have exposed him to ideas and information that have helped him grasp the material in law school.

PAW takes place each spring semester. To sign up for more information about next year’s program email commarts@fiu.edu.

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Communication Arts Internship Spotlight: Johari Canty

Being a member of the TEDxFIU club has paid off in a big way for Communication Arts student Johari Canty. Through his participation, he has earned an internship with award-winning Miami creative agency presentation design firm We Are Visual. In his internship role, Canty will be working with individual TED speakers to help them refine their messaging and content. In addition, he will be working closely with the CEO to create highly visual and engaging PowerPoint presentations that will make each speaker stand out during their talk. The presentations being created are for the twelve speakers participating in the TEDx Coconut Grove event, which will take place on February 6 from 2pm to 7:30pm at the Lewis Family Auditorium.

The Communication Arts department has played an important role in the TEDxFIU event from the start.  Communication Arts faculty members coach the selected speakers, but the TEDxFIU club is where student speakers are born.  Once FIU launched the event in 2012, the TEDxFIU Club was created for students who are interested in public speaking and possibly, in developing their own “TED talks.” The club is sponsored by the Communication Arts department with faculty member Dr. Nurhayat Bilge serving as the advisor.  In addition to receiving coaching in public speaking,  students find a forum to work out ideas and create a “TED talk” of their own – to apply to TEDxFIU or just to put their big ideas into words. They then practice and perfect their speeches with the encouragement and support of fellow club members. Communication Arts major Alexa Chavarry (TEDxFIU speaker 2013) first presented her idea for a “TED talk” to the club and was urged by fellow club members to apply. She went on to prepare her audition tape and was selected as one of four student speakers for 2013.  Her deeply personal talk was a highlight of the event.

To join the TEDxFIU Club, just come to the next meeting! Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 3:30pm in CBC 254 on the MMC campus. The club is open to all students of any major. Contact club president Gisela Valencia at gvale016@fiu.edu for more information.

To get more information on an internship with We Are Visual, contact Gabby Portela at dportela@fiu.edu.

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Communication Works Lecture Series Provides Unique Learning Opportunity for Students

The Communication Arts department kicked off a lecture series called “Communication Works” on January 28, 2015. Organized by faculty member Raquel Perez, the lecture series is designed to explain the role of communication in the current global economy with the focus on the 21st century career market. The series aims to help students make connections between theory and practice.

“What I wanted to do was bring in individuals from the workforce to explain what they’re looking for in candidates and provide opportunities of employment,” explained Perez.

The first presentation in the series was given by Yeily Colon and Caroline Dyal from SBE Miami. The twosome discussed what qualities they look for in potential candidates for the company. Colon, an HR coordinator and Dyal, a hotel manager gave the students a variety of useful tips ranging from making sure their appearance is appropriate to creating goals sets for themselves. Students were invited to ask questions at the end of the presentation with the speakers one-on-one and give them their resumes for possible opportunities of employment. Six students were chosen and will be interviewed for employment after graduation with SBE.

The series will continue with Pedro P. Garcia, Director of Talent Management for Carnival Cruise Line on February 27 at 11:30 am in GC 305. As Director of Talent Management, Pedro oversees leadership development, succession planning, performance management, organizational development, and employee training. Previously, Pedro worked for Citrix Systems.

The third and final installment of the series will take place on March 18 at 11am in GC 305, where students will hear from Victoria Cervantes. Cervantes has over thirteen years of experience in communications including public relations, marketing, and branding. In the past six years at HistoryMiami, Victoria has managed the Communications, Visitor Services and City Tours departments.

For more information, contact Raquel Perez at RaqPerez@fiu.edu.

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Kate Montero Co-Writes Fun Children’s Book About Surfing

Communication Arts faculty member Kate Montero, along with partner Christian Kahler, recently co-wrote a children’s book  titled The Epic Adventures of Big Binks. The authors merged their passion for teaching and surfing to create a story of a young surfer traveling the world. The young surfer, Big Binks, goes on various escapades, during which  he learns to embrace new cultures, different experiences, foreign languages, and unusual friends. The Epic Adventures of Big Binks also seeks to teach the language of surf by following Big Binks’ attempts to navigate different vernaculars such as Seagull, Hawaiian Whale, and Shark Japeneesy and by including a surf lingo glossary in the back in order to introduce children to proper “surfer speak.”

According to Montero, the book aims at inspiring children to embrace others’ differences while exploring and teach the primary message of being open to new ideas. She explains that much of surfing has to do with traveling and being exposed and open to other cultures. The pair plans to have a second Big Binks adventure that includes an etiquette section for surfers.

Kate Montero earned an M.A. in Communication from Barry University in Miami Shores. Throughout her ten years as a high school digital media instructor in Broward County, she was named Broward Teen News Teacher of the Year twice, and was awarded the ING Unsung Heroes Grant for ‘Outstanding Educational Project.’ She is currently teaching Business and Professional Communication (COM 3110) and Public Speaking (SPC 2608) in the Communication Arts Department at Florida International University. With an M.A. in Remediation, and an M.S. in Special Education. Christian, a West-Australia native, teaches education courses at Palm Beach State College, and is an elementary school specialist with additional certifications in reading, special education, ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages), and elementary education.


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Professor Webb Published in “Gender in a Transitional Era”

Lynne M. Webb, Professor in Communication Arts, recently co-wrote the chapter “Mommy Bloggers: Who They Are, What They Write About, and How They Are Shaping Motherhood in the Twenty-First Century.” The essay appears as Chapter 3 in the edited volume Gender in a Transitional Era.

The chapter examines the rapidly growing phenomenon of “mommy blogs.” Professor Webb’s essay reviews research on “mommy bloggers, specifically who they are, how they view themselves, and what they write about.” The chapter also provides an identity profile of mommy bloggers and gives insight into the women’s motivation for blogging.

Webb served as second author for this essay on mommy bloggers. This research report was drawn from its first author’s (Brittney D. Lee) MA Thesis; Webb directed the thesis. This is the third essay the two authors have co-written and published. The first essay articulated a model and theory of how bloggers interact to form communities; the second essay reported data that supports the theory. This third essay describes a large, under-studied genre of bloggers.

The collection Gender in a Transitional Era addresses a range of issues relevant in current gender and sexuality studies. Chapters are written by scholars from many disciplines. The contributors prioritize the critical thinking that continues to support the notion that we, as a society, still have a ways to go toward full gender equality in all spheres of life. This collection places marginal voices at the center of complex gender issues in today’s society. Topic areas include: parental identities, advice, and self-help; gender performances and role expectations in media; interacting within organizational and social spaces; and tensions and negotiations on politics, health, and feminism.

“This collection makes a compelling argument that our current transitional era calls for continued exploration of gender from a variety of perspectives, methodological approaches, and identities. The text offers a rich set of examples and intersectional approaches that expand theoretical frameworks and offer possibilities for interrogating restrictive gender binaries,” said Diana I. Bowen, University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Gender in a Transitional Era is edited by Amanda R. Martinez and Lucy J. Miller. The book contains 13 chapters across 326 pages and is available on amazon.com.

Professor Webb (PhD, University of Oregon) conducts research on computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. She joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the University of Arkansas faculty where she was named a J. William Fulbright Master Researcher. The courses she teaches at FIU include Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Communication in Social Media.

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Communication Arts Welcomes New Faculty Member

As the 2015 spring semester begins, so does the start of a new chapter for Antoine Hardy, the newest addition to the Communication Arts Department faculty.

“I am looking forward to being a part of a creative faculty dedicated to community engagement. As well as working with such a diverse student body and continuing my own communal culture research projects & workshops in the Greater Miami area,” said Hardy, who is currently a doctoral candidate in Communication Studies at the University of South Florida. His main research areas include Media Rhetoric, Mass Communications, and Race and Community. Hardy earned his master’s degree in Speech Communication at Wake Forest University and bachelors’ degrees in Communication Studies and African-American Studies at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

“I love teaching. I believe my enthusiasm and passion comes through in the classroom,” said Hardy, who taught courses ranging from speech and persuasion to argumentation and communication theory at Wiley College and Wake Forest University.

In addition, he has an impressive and extensive debate background. At Wiley College, he worked with some of the top debaters in the campus organization “Lyrical Therapy University.” The group led writing workshops and literacy programs for the surrounding community and used hip-hop to improve forensics skills as well as improve reading and critical thinking. At Wake Forest University, he served as judge and volunteer NDT tournaments and community forensic and debate tournaments.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity. I have witnessed Florida International University’s steady growth and reputation as a top school, not only in the region, but nationally,” said Hardy. This semester, Hardy is teaching Business and Professional Communication, Small Group Communication, and Persuasion for the Communication Arts Department.

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Student’s Lesson in Philanthropy Pays Off

When Communication Arts major Isle Jerez signed up for Advanced Public Speaking this past Fall, she had no idea that it would rekindle a spark ignited years before and pay off in a big way for her future. On the first day of class, she listened as her professor, Elena Nuciforo, explained the course’s philanthropic theme and the students’ initial multi-week assignment to select, research, and present a pitch for a South Florida-based charity/non-profit of their choosing. She was excited to learn that she and her classmates would be participating in a unique exercise in philanthropic pedagogy. They would award a worthy charitable organization with a $25,000 gift, thanks to the generosity of both a current and a former FIU student: Herb Gruber and Donna Steffens (’06). (See “Donors’ Gift Creates Student Philanthropists.”)

Jerez immediately thought of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, which she had first heard about a number of years earlier in an introductory public speaking class. That speech, and the organization, had stayed in her mind, and she wondered if they had a branch in South Florida. She soon discovered that they not only have a South Florida presence, the national headquarters is located in Boca Raton. With her agency selection completed and approved, she began her research online. She reacquainted herself with the charity’s mission and history, discovering that they pioneered the “speedy swab” method of collecting DNA to determine potential donors’ compatibility. She was surprised to find out that although family members represent the best chance for a bone marrow match for someone in need of a transplant, the odds are only 30% that a family member will actually be a match. Thus, the national bone marrow registry that the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation maintains and a large pool of candidates is crucial for those in need.

As part of her preparation to pitch her chosen organization, Jerez wanted to review financial data on the donations the Bone Marrow Foundation receives and how those donations are spent. Although she had found the website to be very transparent, she still had some questions so she went straight to the top; she emailed Gregg Francis, the Chief Operations and Financial Officer. He returned her email and they spoke by phone. He invited her to visit their headquarters and he offered to provide information and answer her questions.

Jerez says that when she finished interviewing Francis, he began interviewing her. She told him about the connection between his Foundation and her public speaking curriculum – past and present – and she shared that she had always been interested in health and wellness, and had originally considered pursuing a health-related major. She felt the pull to make an impact and decided that she could best do that as an advocate. Still uncertain, she sought advice and when her sister told her to “do something you love and the rest will fall into place,” she changed her major to Communication Arts. After spending time with her, Francis was so impressed with Jerez, he offered her a paid summer internship with the national organization right there and then. Jerez could not believe her luck and later found out that he had 250 applications for the three summer internship positions sitting on his desk when they first met.

Although the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation was not selected as the ultimate choice for the financial award, it will benefit from the class in the form of one very energetic and ambitious student advocate. And Jerez plans to link back to the class as well, by enlisting her fellow public speakers from the Fall to assist her in an educational campaign and  bone marrow donor drive at FIU as part of her work for the agency.

To learn more about philanthropic pedagogy and the Communication Arts Department courses, read “Donors’ Gift Creates Student Philanthropists.”

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Donors’ Gift Creates Student Philanthropists

This past summer, retired financial executive and current FIU student at BBC, Herb Gruber, along with his partner Donna Lee Steffens (FIU ’06), offered to award a $25,000 grant to a local non-profit to be chosen by FIU students enrolled in a philanthropy-themed course.  The goal was to acquaint students with the work of non-profits, stimulate interest in careers in the non-profit sector, and introduce students to philanthropy and the responsibility that comes with it.

Gruber, a Miami resident and former CEO of Heller Financial Company/Miami was following an existing model for innovative real-world teaching and learning that he read about, which has been implemented by Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford. (New York Times, May 2014.)

After Gruber brought the idea to FIU development officer Jan Solomon, she put out the call for an appropriate class to implement this approach and the Communication Arts Department answered. Communication Arts had already implemented service learning into public speaking classes through a project with the Miami Coalition for the Homeless and was excited about the new challenge.  The Department proposed making philanthropy the theme in an advanced public speaking class, with students researching and advocating for different charities in their persuasive speeches. Gruber selected the Communication Arts’ course from a host of courses proposed by departments across the curriculum and new faculty member, Elena Nuciforo embraced the challenge for her scheduled Fall class, Advanced Public Speaking (SPC 3602).

The results have been amazing.  Students in the class selected South Florida-based non-profits and conducted extensive research on the charities including fact-checking and conducting financial reviews of the company’s record for use of donations.  They then prepared their persuasive speeches to pitch their chosen charities as worthy candidates for the $25,000 award. After the initial presentations in class, the students voted and narrowed the selections to five non-profits. They then formed five teams to work with the chosen charities to further research and refine the proposals. They were required to provide a comprehensive understanding of the organization, a statement of need, a plan of action, and a budget for the final presentations. In the final week of class, the five teams presented their non-profits’ proposals for the grant in front of the organizations’ representatives, their classmates, and student judges from Lambda Pi Eta, Communication Arts’ chapter of the National Communication Association’s honor society, and the Department’s TEDxFIU Club. Among the worthy organizations presented were the Miami Music Project, the Epilepsy Foundation, and the Florida Association for the Deaf, but in the end the judges voted to fund the IDEAS FOR US project.

The winning presentation was given by students Orietta Caula, Joanna Suarez, Chloe Castro, Alejandro Cerice, and Linda Elvir (L to R in photo above) in support of the non-profit student-founded organization IDEAS for Us, which seeks solutions to promote sustainability and positive environmental change.  The charity’s specific project proposal is to retrofit the Camillus House buildings with solar panels and other energy-saving devices, with the support of AGT, who will donate its solar panel installation services, and Florida Power and Light (FPL), who is consulting on the project and will conduct free, ongoing energy audits.  FPL has determined that the annual cost savings to Camillus House will be approximately $35,000, which means the $25,000 award will generate over $350,000 over the next 10 years.

In addition to providing sustainability for the chosen charity, Gruber and Steffens’ gift has sparked an academic sustainability. Communication Arts Department chair, Joann Brown explained: “Our students were changed by this experience and our faculty have embraced the pedagogical model. We want to keep it going as a powerful means of teaching students advocacy, argument and persuasion. It truly represents the best efforts of individuals and organizations in the community and illustrates how our combined efforts can make things happen in exciting ways.”

Gruber and Steffens agree. They announced they will award another $20,000 this month to fund two new iterations of the course model for the Spring semester: Nuciforo’s Advanced Public Speaking class (SPC 3602) at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus and Daniel Blaeuer’s Business and Professional Communication class (COM 3110) at the Biscayne Bay Campus. A new batch of student philanthropists is in the making.



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Communication Arts Faculty Member Awarded PDL To Complete Doctorate Dissertation

Communication Arts faculty member, Maria Ines Marino, received a Professional Development Leave (PDL) from FIU in order to complete her doctorate dissertation in Educational Technology at the University of Florida (UF). Ms. Marino’s dissertation explores how cultural differences influence participation and involvement in online student discussions in web and computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The study aims at getting a deeper understanding of participation behaviors from the perspective of cultural communication differences. By studying the patterns of cultural differences, it can potentially reduce limitations in designing collaborative learning experiences and result in more positive interactions and adequate learning outcomes for students from multiple cultures.

As part of FIU’s Worlds Ahead initiative, Professional Development Leave is granted to employees engaged in research that makes an impact in their field and in the community. Faculty members granted PDL exceed expectations through innovations in the classroom and service to the university.

Before teaching for Communication Arts, Professor Marino worked as an Educational Media/Communication Coordinator and Educational Consultant for FIU Educational Technology Services for FIU Online. She has also piloted several workshops and seminars on technology solutions for online education.

Ms. Marino holds dual graduate degrees: an M.S in Mass Communication from FIU and an M.A. in Educational Technology from Northwestern State University. She has been teaching a wide range of courses for the Communication Arts department including Public Speaking, Intercultural Communication, Business Communication, Non Verbal Communication, Gender & Communication, Interpersonal Communication, and Political Communication. Ms. Marino also oversees the internship program for the department.

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Communication Arts Welcomes New Alumni

The College of Architecture + The Arts celebrated its fall 2014 Commencement on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, led by President Mark B. Rosenberg. As proud families and friends watched, he assured the class of 2014 that FIU will always be their home and advised them that their academic journey has prepared them to be worlds ahead.

Communication Arts students Esteban Aguerrebere, Kathryn Genevieve Alea, Nicole Andrea Anaya, Ximena Cuadra, Heather Leigh Flannery, Maryuris Maldonado, Christina Retena, and Charles Thompson graduated with prestigious honors such as cum laude and magna cum laude. Yiranny E. Guzman Ramirez received top honors and graduated summa cum laude, awarded only to those who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.9 or better.

“Graduation was better than I ever imagined, the feeling of accomplishment is difficult to express in words! I had never attended a college graduation and it was very inspiring. I now feel prepared to enter the world as a Communication Arts graduate,” said Esteban Aguerrebere, a recent graduate.

Over 70 Communication Arts students walked across the stage at commencement to receive their Bachelor of Arts degrees. The largest group of graduates of the College of Architecture + The Arts stemmed from the Communication Arts department.

Congratulations to all our WorldsAhead graduates! Go out into the world and make us proud!




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Webb Publishes Entry in Encyclopedia of Health Communication

Lynne M. Webb, Professor in Communication Arts, is lead author of the entry “STD and HIV Prevention” in Encyclopedia of Health Communication. Professor Webb’s essay reviews the social scientific research on how sexually active adults can prevent transmission of sexual diseases, including HIV, by engaging in effective communication that facilitates safer sex practices such as condom use. The essay summarizes the findings of over 100 reports of original research including studies conducted by Webb and her co-author Patricia Amason, of the University of Arkansas.

The Encyclopedia, initially released in May 2014, serves as a reference work for scholars and practitioners. According to Sage Publishing, the Encyclopedia “provides comprehensive coverage, including such topics as cultural complexities; high risk and special populations; message design and campaigns; provider/patient interaction issues; media issues; and more. All entries were specifically commissioned for this work, signed and authored by key figures in the field; each concludes with cross reference links and suggestions for further reading.”

The Encyclopedia is edited by a pioneering researcher in health communication, Teresa L. Thompson, PhD. Thompson serves on the Department of Communication faculty at the University of Dayton and is the sitting editor of the scholarly journal Health Communication published by Taylor and Francis.

The Encyclopedia contains over 600 entries organized A-to-Z across three volumes and 1688 pages. It can be purchased at amazon.com.

Professor Webb (PhD, University of Oregon) conducts research on communication in personal relationships including safer sex talk between consenting adults. She joined the FIU faculty in August 2013 after serving on the University of Arkansas faculty where she was named a J. William Fulbright Master Researcher. The courses she teaches at FIU include Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management, and Communication in Social Media.




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