News

Pulitzer Center Brings Journalists to Campus, Sends Students to Report Internationally

by Morgan Orangi '13

Yochi DreazenSenior writer at Foreign Policy and writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security Yochi Dreazen will present a lecture at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 17, in the Chambers Lilly Family Gallery. A travel grant information session will follow at 8:30 p.m.

These events are made possible through the college's participation in the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting's Campus Consortium program.

A seasoned international reporter, Dreazen's lecture "Out of Africa: Why the World's Newest Terror Groups are Threatening Africa and the U.S." will build on his current project at the Pulitzer Center and focus on the broader issue of terrorism in Africa and its potential impact on American foreign policy. Dreazen will be the first of two Pulitzer-supported journalists to speak on campus this year.

The Dean Rusk International Studies Program wanted this semester's speaker to not only cover a topic that appeals to a broad section of the community, but also pique student interest in the college's relationship with the Pulitzer Center.

"These journalists come straight from the field and give a sense of real-world relevance and excitement to academic topics," Director of International Studies Chris Alexander said. "It's an opportunity to learn about a complex and under-reported issue in a region that is gaining attention in our community."

Grants for Students

Jonathan Cox
When Jonathan Cox ’14 wasn’t visiting politicians, doctors and patients, he traveled to historic sites, such as the Qutb Shah tombs in Hyderabad.

Alexander and Dreazen invite students to learn more about international reporting and the Pulitzer Center travel grant application process at a workshop following the lecture.

Two students are chosen each year to complete an independent multimedia project on an under-reported issue of global importance as the second component of Davidson's partnership with the Pulitzer Center. They receive grants from both the Pulitzer Center and the Dean Rusk International Studies Office, and the Pulitzer Center provides a journalist mentor.

The Pulitzer Center evaluates candidates based on their topic of choice and writing ability, while the Dean Rusk program considers the applicants' personal characteristics, goals and accomplishments.

Kem Sawyer, student mentor for the Pulitzer campus consortium, said they look for students who are passionate about their projects.

"You can tell that along with being excellent writers, Davidson students take a lot of care in choosing their topics and take imaginative approaches to them," she said.

Last summer the grants supported Jonathan Cox '14, who researched health insurance systems in India, and Adrian Fadil '14, who covered the plight of Palestinian farmers under occupation.

Sawyer said, "We chose Jonathan because of our interest in public health issues, and we thought that Adrian, being half Palestinian and half Jewish, might be able to see the story in a different way because of his personal connection."

Adrian Fadil
Adrian Fadil ’14 joined other volunteers for a traditional Palestinian dance at a peace farm.

Fadil traveled to Palestine hoping to facilitate peace and coalesce his disparate identities, both of which he explored through writing. As an English major and creative writer who had never written journalistically, he found the experience to be a great exercise in distilling information objectively and thinking logically.

Cox also gained a new perspective on writing. He said, "My take away was that a good project doesn't happen in a vacuum. I needed other people and had to learn how to collaborate but not use those people as a crutch. It made me realize how powerful and exciting journalistic writing could be."

The students' work is published on the Pulitzer Center website, as well as through other relevant media outlets. For instance, Cox's article "Hyderabad Debates Health Insurance Model as Public Hospitals Decay" appeared on the New York Times website. Previous Davidson Pulitzer Center Fellows, such as Anna Van Hollen '12, also have received national acclaim. The Society of Professional Journalists recognized her Pulitzer Center project "Palestinian Youth at a Crossroads" with a first-place Mark of Excellence Award this year.

"In addition to getting their work published, it's really valuable for students to get out in the world and see issues first hand-to not only see them, but process them and tell stories so that others can understand what they have discovered," Pulitzer Center Health Projects Director Peter Sawyer '09 said.

Sawyer initiated the connection with Davidson in 2011 when he saw relationships develop with other schools and thought Davidson would be a natural fit.

"I'm thrilled that we can partner with a school like Davidson, especially as an alumnus," he said. "And we're excited to send our journalists there because of the strength of the students and faculty."

View a photo gallery of Fadil's and Cox's Pulitzer Center experiences.