Professor leads students to new understanding of media and faith by launching first TWU Vancouver-based media course

Langley, British Columbia—Recent media coverage of both national and provincial politics has brought issues of faith to the forefront on television screens, newspaper headlines and magazine articles, forcing Christians to examine the interaction between media and religion. In a new course offered by Trinity Western University, students will wrestle with these issues as they interact directly with Vancouver’s own media professionals and are led by media scholar and TWU professor Geri Forsberg, PhD.

From May 3 through May 12, students taking part in the course, Media and Religion, will tour several media agencies in Vancouver and interact with experts who work in film, television, radio, newspaper, magazine, advertising and public relations.

“It’s important for future church leaders to know how the media is influencing the church and to know how to use the media,” says Forsberg. “It’s important for students who are in Education to know how to teach children who are living in a media saturated environment. And it’s important for students who are planning to work in the communications field to know how to integrate their faith into the work that they are a part of.”

Among the speakers taking part in the program are George Jarvis, founding partner of one of Canada’s largest public relations firms called Palmer Jarvis Advertising, Kevin Evans, former CBC TV anchor and consultant, Bob Saye, co-host of CKNW’s The Weekend Edition, Dr. John Stackhouse, Regent College’s award-winning historian, theologian, journalist and teacher, and Terry O’Neill, editor of the BC Report Magazine.

While the course will be TWU’s first on media and religion, it will not be the first time Forsberg has brought students to a higher understanding of the media through field studies. For the past six years, Forsberg, who has worked as a media producer, media consultant and media personnel trainer, has taken students to study the topic of ethics and the media in New York city. The journey has been a homecoming for Forsberg, who lived in New York city for seven years, where she coordinated training sessions for media professionals and studied under renowned media critic and scholar, Neil Postman.

“Students come back saying that their lives have been changed,” says Forsberg. “They begin to see the marketplace with new insights and their eyes are opened to what it means to work in the media.”

Forsberg’s guidance has already led students to put into practice the principles they have learned in the New York field study course. Third year communications student Harmonie Vallerand, who took part in the New York course last summer, will return to the U.S. this summer to work with media professional Rebecca Larson. Larson, also a former student of Forsberg’s, works in New York city for an organization called Priority Associates, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ to the professional community.

“That is what I really love as an educator,” says Forsberg. “To know that I haven’t just given these students book knowledge, but have helped to shape their world views and influence the directions that they take in life. That is what excites me.”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling 2,850 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2012-08-21
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