Enrollment. High-impact learning. Job readiness. Alumni engagement.
All that and more lie at the heart of a new partnership between the history and communications departments at Eastern Kentucky University.
Seeking ways to increase interest in its undergraduate and graduate programs, Dr. Chris Taylor, chair of EKU’s Department of History, reached out to Chad Cogdill, who teaches the Department of Communication’s capstone video production course, BEM 495.
Taylor, Cogdill and the 20 capstone course students then created four 60-second spots promoting the degrees. The new spots feature alumni who exemplify the wide range of career opportunities available to history department graduates.
Taylor said she “couldn’t be more pleased with the results. For almost no cost, the department has four polished and engaging spots it can utilize in a variety of mediums and venues. I got to reconnect with numerous alumni who are now excited about assisting the department as we move forward with further program enhancement efforts.”
Cogdill said the project gave his students “a real-world sense of what it’s like to work with an outside client and achieving the goals of a project. The pressure and stress were evident throughout the semester, yet the students showed great professionalism.”
BEM 495 student Gage Hill said the experience broadened his perspective “when it comes to working with on-screen talent. It’s not just clipping a microphone to their shirt and pushing the ‘record’ button the camera. You really have to communicate with them ... let them know what you’re looking for, and you have to listen to any comments and concerns they may have. You have to make the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. It is only at that point that an interview (and its parent project) can achieve its highest potential.”
The project symbolized the possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration and “shows the accomplishments of EKU students beautifully,” said Dr. Sara Zeigler, dean of the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences. “In these clips, you see the work of current students in filming and editing the work to create a compelling message, as well as the work of our alumni who have gone on to successful careers in diverse fields. In these short spots, you see the value of the liberal arts education in microcosm.”
In an effort to break down disciplinary silos and build on the marketable skills of its graduates, the EKU Department of History announced in 2014 that history majors could choose from among numerous career paths designed to meld a broad liberal arts background with specific skill sets via a second major or minor in such fields as broadcasting and electronic media, public relations, paralegal sciences, economics, communication studies, management and globalization and international affairs, among others.
Eastern was the first institution in Kentucky and among the first nationally to take such a comprehensive approach, Taylor said at the time.