Stereotypes and false assumptions can make our differences seem bigger than they really are. That's why Kent State's College of Communication and Information collaborated with the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) department of Journalism in a new initiative, "Project Citizen: Transforming America."

The summer 2019 course was led by Carol Costello, former CNN anchor, Kent State journalism alumna and LMU instructor, and Scott Bogoniewski, interim director of Kent State's School of Digital Sciences and a former LA-based producer, creative manager and production manager. Six students from each institution took part in the trip.

Watch the students talk about stereotypes

The students spent three weeks in Los Angeles and three weeks in Kent, interacting with newsmakers, voters, political leaders and peers, while working on multimedia stories about stereotypes and the people affected by them. They attended PRIDE rallies in both cities and a rally for President Donald Trump in Los Angeles. They also visited and interviewed church leaders and organizations that help reintegrate former inmates into society and had dinner with an Amish family in Ohio. 

Senior public relations major Olivia Eastly took the course during summer 2019. “Project Citizen was one of the most exciting opportunities given to me at Kent State,” Eastly said. “It gave me a more realistic view of what I’ll be walking into when I graduate.”

This summer, students at the two universities will collaborate again. This year, they will spend three weeks in Washington, D.C., examining similar themes of civil discourse, the political divide and stereotypes. The course is open to all students across the College of Communication and Information and encourages collaboration between videographers, writers, storytellers and designers.

“One of the most interesting things about Project Citizen was that so many of us had different majors and interests coming into the course,” Eastly said. “The course gave me the opportunity to learn how to work with people who don’t think quite the same way as I do, learn the same way as I do, but we all got the same thing out of the course.”