Writing. Design. Social Change.

Posts from the ‘Teaching’ category

dogwood blossoming

This is a note to all of the graduating seniors in our Communication and Media Studies Department. First of all, congratulations on all of your accomplishments. We are so proud of you. For several days, I have had the urge to write, because my heart goes out to you. In what is normally an exciting but anxiety-ridden time, I can only imagine the degree of uncertainty you are having to cope with. I have no real answers for you (does anyone?). Instead, I offer these suggestions in the spirit of support, guidance, and camaraderie.  

Independent study

One of my heroes, Joseph Campbell, used his time during the Great Depression (when jobs were not available) as a period of deep self-study, which set the tone for the next period of his life and his work. See: Hero With A Thousand Faces. Reading, writing and contemplation are always generative choices.

Online Courses

The next months could also be a time of learning new skills to prepare for the workforce when the crisis is over. This could be via an online course through SkillShare, Adobe, or Code Academy. Harvard, MIT and many other universities have free courses that anyone can enroll in.

Graduate School

Graduate school is a viable option right now. If this was something you were thinking of in the next few years, the time to apply might be now. Here’s a timeline from the Princeton Review for what this entails. Many universities are currently waiving the standardized entrance tests for graduate school, such as the Graduate Record Exam or GRE. This could be the time to seize the day.

Volunteer Corps

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Poland XIV), I have to tell you that this was one of the most formative experiences of my life. Yes, it is a two-year commitment, but those two years could be the most critical years for learning new things, meeting new people, and appreciating different ways of being. They were for me. Applications are still open. There are also many volunteer organizations, on a local level, including AmeriCorps.

Know your Ikigai

This could be a time for introspection. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “reason for being.” This worksheet can be used as a guide to help you find direction or purpose in your life. I love to use these with students. A Find-Your-Ikigai worksheet helps you to see where your passion, mission, vocation, and profession meet. 

Understanding the Nature of Mind

Many of the above suggestions deal with using your mind, but what about understanding your mind? This quiet time indoors could be a blessing in disguise, providing a time and space for meditation and contemplation, much in the same way a spiritual retreat might work (but that many of us never find the time for). Undergoing a sustained period of self-study will help you to better cope with the current situation, as well as prepare you for life when this is over. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius notes that “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” This is about turning obstacles upside down. I wish I could give The Obstacle is the Way to every graduating student right now. In this book, Holiday presents a Stoic toolkit that focuses on the concepts of will, perception, and action and how these concepts can help you create opportunities in the face of adversity. Watch the short video here.

Marking the Occasion

I hope that these suggestions offer you some ideas and opportunities during this time. Graduation ceremonies are a right of passage – a way to mark an important milestone. Even if we cannot celebrate together this Spring, I hope you find a way to mark the occasion in a meaningful way.  And we will celebrate together when we can.

Leave a comment

Santorini – 36.3932° N, 25.4615° E 
One of the things I will always remember from Santorini is something that I couldn’t capture with my camera. We stayed at a Dominican Convent in Santorini – a home for 12 cloistered nuns of various nationalities. Although I never saw the nuns, I did hear them singing Vespers one evening; an otherworldly hymn that I first mistook for a professional recording. I will also remember the beautiful and serene energy of this place. It was palpable. We were the beneficiaries of these nuns who spend most of their days channeling grace through prayer.

Leave a comment

SYROS – 37.4385° N, 24.9139° E

Postcards from our month in Greece traveling, writing, and storytelling in COM 382 Digital Publishing.

When I look back on our two weeks on Syros I will be thinking about the blues. The seas, the skies, the bays, all in a range of that clear, impossible blue. If we can have that every day, perhaps it is enough. Maybe we don’t need as much as we think we need. That’s really the undercurrent of my time on Syros. The slower pace of life (except for the drivers!), the kindness of everyone we met, the three-hour meals with the waves lapping behind us, the raw beauty of the island, and the simplicity of its beaches. A towel and a tamarisk tree are all you need.

Leave a comment


COM 382 Digital Publishing in Greece May 24 – June 25, 2019

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.17.18 PM

Join us for a special COM course as we explore the islands of Greece.


  • Fulfills upper-level communications elective for majors & minors
  • Open to all majors at Saint Joseph’s University, no pre-requisites
  • Travel and study in Athens, Santorini, Syros, and Crete and many other locations

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.18.08 PM


Spend a month in Greece traveling, writing, and storytelling. The wide variety of digital media tools and platforms available allows us to share observations, research, and personal narratives with global audiences online. Using a variety of digital tools including 360 photography, video, audio, and social media, we will create a portfolio of stories for publication.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.18.51 PM

As we travel throughout Greece, we will develop projects for digital publication. Each project emphasizes skills essential to writing for the web: finding, framing, and pitching story ideas; research, reconnaissance, and field recording techniques; the appreciation for and acquisition of story context; tools for evaluating issues of ethics; an understanding of story elements, organization, and assembly; writing, revising and editing for clarity and purpose; peer review and constructive feedback on your drafts; and finally, publication strategies for your work.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.18.33 PM

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.18.18 PM

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.17.36 PM

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 4.18.25 PMSee the Center for International Programs for more course information. studyabroad@sju.edu (610)660-1835


1 Comment

A commitment to community building and civic action offers faculty and students in our field opportunities to address immediate real-world needs in our own neighborhoods.

Join us for a half-day workshop on Thursday, May 24, 2018, from 9-12 at Computers and Writing 2018 at George Mason University. With John J Silvestro, Bill Wolff, and Aimée Knight.

This workshop features several models to involve academic courses in digital projects with local nonprofits and community-based organizations. Learning to leverage digital media platforms to advocate for and with communities provides students a meaningful way to engage in designing communication for social change.

We discuss an array of research and creative projects that 1) serve the needs of community partners and 2) can be accomplished by students in one semester. We provide examples from completed projects in areas ranging from professional writing to digital production, including advocacy campaigns, social media audits, website design, digital storytelling, data visualization, video production, and social media content creation.

During three hands-on work sessions, we will provide guidance and support as workshop participants move through the process of designing and developing their own project or assignment that can be worked into a new or an already existing or a new course. Each participant will leave the workshop with a blueprint for a project which responds to community-identified needs and creates real-world deliverables that benefit students and communities. For more details, contact me @aesthetically.




Leave a comment

Leave a comment
Leave a comment