Students bring top scholars to WFU
Wake Forest’s “Great Teachers” class gives students the opportunity to learn from the best by planning and executing visits from four leading communications researchers.
Students in associate communications professor Steve Giles’s class have been studying the work of Brian Southwell since the beginning of the semester.
Southwell is a research professor at the University of North Carolina and a senior research scientist at RTI International. His research poses the question of whether interpersonal connections can be relevant to understanding mass media campaigns and benefit public health. Recently, Giles’s class had the opportunity to meet him in person and ask questions about his work – but first they had to plan and organize his visit.
A portion of each student’s grade is tied to their commitment to making the visiting scholars’ trip a success. This includes everything from planning the researchers’ itinerary to providing transportation and a warm welcome when the visitors arrive on campus.
“I am hoping that with the experiences of this class, students will be thinking more broadly about how research can relate to their lives and their careers,” Giles said. “Research is a hands-on experience.”
Southwell was the first of four scholars working beyond the walls of Wake Forest whom the students will study through reading and lectures, then bring to campus. All four will participate in discussions planned by the students that are open to all members of the Wake Forest community.
Senior Mae Stimpson, a Studio Art major and Communications and Art History minor, was in charge of Southwell’s itinerary. She said that the class experience is very rewarding.
“Since we have been reading all of his articles in class, it is really amazing that he is here now,” Stimpson said. “The connection adds a holistic approach to the learning environment.”