University of Arizona School of Journalism awarded $1 million grant to help Afghan university create journalism program


Maggy Zanger visits a forward operating base in Jalalabad before boarding a helicopter to return to Kabul. She visited Afghanistan in early December to help the University of Nangarhar set up its own journalism program.

Zanger talks with students in an English-language class at the University of Nangarhar.

The School of Journalism has been awarded a $1 million grant to assist a university in Afghanistan in developing a journalism department of their own.

The three-year project will result in a professionally oriented journalism curriculum for the University of Nangarhar in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.

The project will bring Nangarhar professors to the UA for two different semesters to work with journalism faculty mentors to hone their teaching skills and to develop syllabi and materials for six specific classes. The courses will form the core of a new journalism department within the Nangarhar University Faculty of Languages and Literature.

“This is such an amazing opportunity for both Nangarhar U and for us,” said Maggy Zanger, professor of journalism and the UA project director. “We have so much to learn from each other as teachers and as journalists in two countries whose histories have been so painfully interwoven.” 

Zanger will travel to Jalalabad to continue working with the teachers after they return home and begin to implement new classes. At the UA, she focuses on Middle East journalism, specifically on analyzing media coverage of international crises. Zanger also was a faculty member at the American University in Cairo, and the director of the publications program of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.

Funded by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the project also teams the two universities with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), a media development non-profit organization that has been training Afghans to be journalists since 2004. Zanger started IWPR’s training centers in Iraq in 2003.  

IWPR operates a media center in Jalalabad that serves seasoned journalists and trains beginners. The organization will provide on-the-ground support for the professors instituting new classes and short-term training courses for Nangarhar students until a full journalism program is developed.

The UA is one of four programs receiving the grants to help establish a free press in Afghanistan. Others are San Jose State University, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Ball State University.

The University of Arizona School of Journalism is home to an international journalism program that is a collaboration among the School of Journalism, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies. Any undergraduate or graduate student who is studying in these units may take any International Journalism class.

The program features faculty with decades of experience reporting from Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. One seminar is taught by a former Associated Press bureau chief who has reported from more than 200 countries. Another course looks at coverage of wars and other critical events in the Middle East.

Several UA journalism faculty members will be involved in the three-year partnership, including Susan Knight, the school’s undergraduate curriculum coordinator, as well as instructors of photojournalism, introductory reporting, multimedia reporting and other courses.


Published Date: 

12/08/2011 - 11:29am