Cultural Enlightenment and International Connections

scholarsDr. Cindy Royal traverses Europe, works with journalists, attends ICA:

As a college professor, I often get to attend academic conferences, which can take place at many locales around the globe. This summer, I chose to attend the International Communication Association (ICA) conference in London. Since I was going to travel so far, I decided to make a trip out of it, both personal and professional. The first two weeks were mostly for fun. I had an amazing visit to Italy, with a stop off in Paris before heading to London for the professional part of my journey.

It was my first time in Italy, and I was enthralled by the beauty, culture and food of each city. Rome is a thriving metropolis integrating modern and ancient in unexpected ways. My hotel was right next to the Pantheon, one of the oldest buildings in continuous use in the city. I visited the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and Ruins and the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. I even got to see the Pope as he greeted the crowd before a public mass.

In Florence, I enjoyed the Uffizi and Accademie galleries, where I saw many wonderful works including Michelangelo’s Statue of David. I walked the steps of the Boboli Gardens and Piazzale Michelangelo. From Florence, I was able to take a quick train trip to Lucca, where I rented a bike to tour the city’s enclosed walls. All the walking and biking helped to work off the delicious pizza, pasta and gelato I enjoyed every day.

Venice was incredibly beautiful, every square inch of it. The colorful buildings surrounding the canals make for a spectacular landscape. It was fun to explore and get lost along its alleys and byways.

After Italy, I made a stop in Paris, which required a new language and a change of cuisine. In Paris, I visited the Musee d’Orsay, Montmartre and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. I had the opportunity to meet with scholars Sylvain Parasie of Paris Est University and Eric Dagiral of Paris Descartes University who do research in the area of interactive news. They are both in the sociology departments at their respective universities, and I enjoyed sharing the details of our shared interests.

My next and final stop was London. I spent 12 days in the UK, continuing some sightseeing, but moving on to the professional part of my trip. While in the UK, I visited with Jonathan Hewett and George Brock at City University’s Interactive Journalism Master’s Program, Thanassis Tiropanis and Leslie Carr in the Web Science Program at Southampton University and Eric Meyer and Ralph Schroeder at Oxford University’s Internet Institute.  I took great inspiration from their progressive and interdisciplinary approaches.

I also had the opportunity to work at the Guardian with their Interactive News team. I spent three days working with Rich Harris, Jonathan Richards, Robin Beitra and others. While there, I assisted with debugging a Web scraping program and attended meetings on the Firestorm multimedia project and best practices in Web development. It was definitely a valuable and enriching experience for which I am grateful.

The personal highlights in London were visits to the Tate Modern Gallery and the David Bowie Exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I also loved walking around Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Soho. And I got to see the London production of Book of Mormon and attended a concert by the U.S. band The Breeders at the London Forum. I also got to spend time with Alex Hering, a 2010 Texas State graduate now working and living in London.

The final stop on my trip was the conference. ICA brings together scholars from around the world covering all aspects of communication. I attended panels on data and multimedia journalism, attended the launch of the new Digital Journalism academic journal and got to spend time with friends and academic colleagues Amy Schmitz-Weiss (San Diego State University), Alfred Hermida (University of British Columbia), Carrie Brown Smith (University of Memphis), Corinne Weisgerber (St. Edward’s University), Margaretha Geertsema-Sligh (Butler University), Andrea Hickerson (Rochester Institute of Technology) and more.

You can see more pictures from my trip at cindyroyal.tumblr.com.

Now that I am home, things are a bit of a blur, and I am trying to organize my thoughts around all these new and enlightening experiences. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to explore these beautiful places. I will be spending the next few weeks teaching summer school and prepping for the Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford, starting in September.

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