In early December 2019, Dr. Nathan Carpenter traveled to Georgia as a part of the Media Education Program funded by the U.S. Embassy in Georgia. He visited six universities, including Caucasus International University, Georgia Institute of Public Affairs, University of Georgia, Grigol Robikadze University, and Ilia State University.
Positioned between Europe and Asia, Georgia has a unique cultural heritage and a deep history full of conflict. Georgia was the first republic to break away from the Soviet Union in 1991. Given its history and proximity to Russia, free speech, democracy, and commitment to civic engagement are continuously under threat.
During his time in Georgia, Carpenter gave several public lectures to students, faculty and staff, and leadership. He spoke about social media in the academic sphere, developing social media strategies for journalism, and gave students career advice and training on digital platforms. Carpenter also spoke with the various universities’ leaders on the practice of collecting, understanding, and presenting social media data to students.
Through these conversations, Carpenter featured the various resources available to Illinois State students that help teach about media convergence. He specifically showed off the media (radio and television) laboratories, the Social Media Analytics Command Center (SMACC), and the Communication Innovation Center (CIC).
Carpenter is uniquely qualified to speak on these topics, given his research in them and his role as the director of convergent media in the School of Communication (SoC) at Illinois State University. He is the primary coordinator of the SMACC lab, a space that is dedicated to studying social media in the context of communication, mass media, and journalism. He also provides technical support for over 100 faculty, staff, and graduate students, and teaches various communication courses in the School.
Reflecting on his time in Georgia, Carpenter is grateful for “the opportunity to share my knowledge with students who are living in an emerging democracy. I hope they can take what they learned during my sessions to use in developing social media strategies for journalism and continue to protect their civil liberties.”