By Lizzie Wilcox
Fall 2017 Visiting Knight Chair, Lindsay Grace, concluded his residency at the University of Miami School of Communication with the Game Design Thinking and the Newsroom Interactive Workshop at American University in Washington D.C. The event was attended by members of the winning team from UM’s Newsjam, which consisted of Nicole Barba, Chabeli Castillo, Carlos Gonzalez, and Stephano Cardona.
Newsjam was a weekend long game design event that took place at the University of Miami School of Communication in Oct. 2017 where participants – students and community members – designed social impact games. The winning team prototyped an interactive game on climate change and rising sea water levels. In the first level of the game, players have the opportunity to collect trash or plant trees in order to keep the sea water level from rising. The team was flown to D.C to showcase their game and participate in the AU Workshop.
“The more good you do, the more the water level goes down … if you fight each other, the water rises, so players need to work together to prevent the sea water level from rising,” said Barba, a first-year graduate student in Interactive Media.
Clay Ewing and Lien Tran, assistant professors for the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, also attended the D.C. Workshop.
“It was pretty cool to have a collaboration between Knight, American University, and the University of Miami,” Ewing said. “I think it’s one of the nice things about the Visiting Knight Chair position; we get both academics in the position and we also get professionals.”
These events had a decisive impact on Barba’s academic interests.
“I was never into video games. I never thought I was going to steer in this direction” she said. She added that this semester she has enrolled in an interactive gaming course to learn more about them.
For spring 2018, the Visiting Knight Chair is Elizabeth “Liz” Miller, a communication studies professor at Concordia University in Montreal. She teaches courses in media production, media and the environment, documentary production, and multi-platform media advocacy. This semester, she is teaching a collaborative documentary course at the School of Communication where will be working with students to create an interactive environmental documentary project tentatively titled, SwampScapes.
“I was particularly excited about a chance to work with a group of talented and interdisciplinary media students and a community partner invested in environmental concerns, The Conservancy of Southwest Florida,” Miller said.
Miller has a background in interactive documentary media, having spent the past three years developing The Shore Line, a web documentary that uses visualizations, videos and a range of new media tools to engage viewers in the issues playing out along our global coasts.
“I hope to share my own experience in collaborative documentary practices and to create a new resource that will be of use to educators,” she said.
The Visiting Knight Chair in Journalism position is hosted by the School of Communication’s Center for Communication, Culture and Change. A welcome reception for Miller will be held at the Center in Wolfson Communication Building Room 1021 at noon on Jan. 31.