Grady professors explore niche topics through first-year odyssey seminars

Eleven Grady College professors are teaching first-year odyssey seminars this semester. The goal of these seminars are to provide first-year students with the opportunity to engage with faculty members and other first-year students in a small classroom setting.

Professors chose a topic of their interest and craft a course tailored to first-year students. Courses span across all departments, and topics this fall range from telenovelas to film festivals to fake news.

Dean Krugman, Booker T. Mattison and Ivanka Pjesivac share their experience teaching first-year seminars this fall.

Developing a Perspective on the Changing Media Landscape

Dean Krugman is a professor emeritus in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Prior to his official retirement in 2011, he taught courses in advertising management and advertising and society to undergraduates, as well as a graduate course in advertising management and communication theory.

Professor Dean Krugman meets with students in his first-year odyssey seminar on the first day of class. Krugman has previously taught courses on changing media, but this is the first time he is teaching the course to first-year students. (Photo/Jackson Schroeder)

Krugman held positions including department head and senior associate dean, “but nothing was as rewarding as teaching and doing research,” he said.

This year, he has returned to Grady College to teach a first-year odyssey seminar in changing media.

“This presented a great opportunity to come back and get in touch with students. It’s been really, really enjoyable,” he said.

His course on changing media is designed for students to understand how they consume media.

“The idea is for the students to build an intelligent and critical perspective of the media they’re using,” Krugman said.

Krugman says the classroom has always energized him, but that it’s been great to see how enthusiastic his students have been about sharing their views and receiving feedback. During the second week of class, students were assigned with writing a critique. Krugman said when he walked into class that day and asked if anyone wanted to share their critique, all 17 hands went up.

Krugman says the most rewarding part of teaching the course so far has been watching students grasp concepts, build on those concepts, and use those concepts in their work.

He says the first-year odyssey program is an enriching experience for students, and he credits UGA’s central administration for holding onto and championing this program.

The Short Film – A Lens of the Human Experience

Professor Booker T. Mattison’s course on short films uses films as both a genre and as an opportunity to examine humanity.

As a working writer and director, Mattison says “it’s nice to share with students not just what they learn in the textbook, but what’s happening in real time in the industry.”

Each week, Mattison screens a different short film – four of which he directed.

Booker T. Mattison sits and teaches in front of students
Mattison says his favorite part about teaching the first-year odyssey seminar is meeting first-year students. (Photo/Jackson Schroeder)

Students then write a response in class.

Mattison says it’s important for students to respond in real time so that other students do not influence their opinions. He says he hopes by doing it this way, discussions in his course are unvarnished.

For the final assignment, Mattison’s students will choose one of the films they’ve reviewed this semester and write an analysis.

He hopes the main takeaway for students in this course is that they will be able to look at visual media more critically, see themselves in visual media, and use that knowledge to better interact with others.

“The unique thing about film is that 100% of students on this campus watch movies,” he says. “The opportunity to then talk to a filmmaker and ask questions is pretty unique.” 

Fake News, Misinformation and Propaganda: How to Deal with Information Disorder

Dr. Ivanka Pjesivac’s course covers topics of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda in the digital world. Pjesivac’s course begins with an explanation of misinformation, and then delves into a historical perspective of misinformation.

Pjesivac says it’s important to teach this to first-year students, who are more vulnerable to misinformation.

“I think it’s important for young people to get digital media literacy skills as soon as they can,” she says. “It’s especially important for first-year students to be familiarized with some of the characteristics of misinformation, and how to distinguish true information from false information.” 

She says it’s important to expose first-year students to the research potential at UGA. In addition to lectures, she takes her students to the special collections library to view first-hand propaganda material, and takes the class to visit some of the research labs in Grady.

Pjesivac says it’s exciting to see an interest in news and misinformation among her students, many of whom are not pre-journalism or pre-Grady students.

“I see that there is a general interest among a variety of young people to learn about our current digital media ecosystem and how to navigate it,” she says.

By the end of the course, she hopes her students will have the tools to identify suspicious information and justify their skepticism.

Pjesivac says the most rewarding part of teaching this seminar is being able to apply her research to a class setting, and to expand the knowledge at Grady College to other majors.


Editor’s Note: Comments trimmed for length and clarity.


Grady College launches 2 new study away programs

This summer, Grady College is offering two new study away programs, in Chicago and Croatia, and bringing back the Travel Writing in Prague program. Information sessions on these programs and seven additional Grady study away programs are happening throughout the months of September, October and early November.

The deadline to apply to all Grady study away programs is November 10, 2022. Students should apply through the application portal and direct all questions to Rebekah Seabolt, global studies program manager. 

Grady Chicago Field Study and Internship ProgramA quote graphic that reads "Chicago is a breathtakingly gorgeous and exciting city that's full of opportunities for Grady majors.

Students on the new Chicago Field Study and Internship Program will spend eight weeks in Chicago, one of the top media and communications hubs in the United States. 

Travelers will gain hands-on experience in their areas of interest by participating in internships Monday through Thursday of each week. One evening each week, students will take a course. Fridays will be open for participating in local learning experiences and exploring the city. 

The course is titled ADPR 5990 Special Topics in Ideation: The Power of Big Ideas. In it, students will study the cutting-edge creative work being done in the Chicago market, meet the people and organizations behind it, and learn how to develop creativity by generating their own sharp and powerful ideas. Students will receive three credit hours for the course and three credit hours for the internship, for a total of six upper-level elective credit hours. 

“Chicago is a breathtakingly gorgeous and exciting city that’s full of opportunities for Grady majors,” said Dr. Jennifer Griffith, program director and senior lecturer in Advertising. “I’m excited about helping students find meaningful internships and seeing them fall in love too with one of my favorite cities.”

The program lasts from June 3 to July 29, 2023. Internships should begin June 5 and end July 27, 2023. All Grady students are eligible to apply. 


Quote graphic that reads "The program is unique as it does not focus on one location, but offers students the opportunity to travel throughout the country and be actively immersed in Croatian way of life and culture."International Mass Communication in Croatia 

The new International Mass Communication in Croatia program will run in Maymester 2023 and include a three-credit hour course, JRLC 5080 International Mass Communication. In addition to participating in class lectures, students will have the opportunity to learn about international communication processes from Croatian journalists and academics. They will also visit media organizations and a variety of cultural sites throughout the country. According to the preliminary itinerary, the program will run in three cities, the capital Zagreb and two more on the Croatian coast, Split and Dubrovnik.

“The program is unique as it does not focus on one location, but offers students the opportunity to travel throughout the country and be actively immersed in Croatian way of life and culture. It has a strong stress on academic and experiential learning. We hope that students will enjoy the lectures, media and cultural site visits, as well as guest speakers that we planned for them,” said Dr. Ivanka Pjesivac, program director and associate professor in Journalism.

The program runs from May 14 to June 3, 2023. All Grady students are eligible to apply. 

A quote graphic that reads "We’ll visit a nearby medieval town and an old film photography studio, go on a delicious food tour, see two important sites from WWII and more. The whole time, students will be learning about travel writing and how to explore culture and humanity through their own lived experiences. "Travel Writing in Prague, Czech Republic

After a year hiatus, the Travel Writing in Prague program is returning for the summer of 2023. 

Students in this program will be immersed in an exciting three-credit hour travel writing course, JOUR 5570 Introduction to Travel Writing, which will teach them how to develop strong stories, how to pitch articles to editors, and other practical tools needed to work in the field. 

The objectives for the course are for students to develop an understanding of foreign travel and to learn and practice the skills required of a travel journalist. Emphasis is placed on teaching students how to think critically about gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other forms of diversity in relation to travel journalism and to evaluate how various digital media are disrupting travel journalism.

“Our time in Prague and the Czech Republic will be full of cultural excursions as well as ample opportunity for students to explore on their own,” said Dr. Kyser Lough, program director and assistant professor in Journalism. “We’ll visit a nearby medieval town and an old film photography studio, go on a delicious food tour, see two important sites from WWII and more. The whole time, students will be learning about travel writing and how to explore culture and humanity through their own lived experiences. Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world, and a favorite site to bring students to.”

The program is expected to run from June 6 to June 29, 2023. The exact dates are subject to change at this time. All Grady students are eligible to apply. 

  • Grady students posing in front of the water while on a study away trip in Cannes.


Graphic outlining the dates for study away info sessions. Graphic outlining the dates for study away info sessions.