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People's choice awards: Favorite courses of Global Business Journalism students

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Professor Dai's course is one of the most popular in the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication


Global Business Journalism reporter

Global Business Journalism master’s students finished their first two semesters remotely from 13 countries worldwide, joined by classmates on campus at Tsinghua University. It was not the same as being on Tsinghua’s beautiful campus, but the students gave high marks to the virtual classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the seven favorite courses voted by international GBJ’s 2020 entering class, listed in random order. The consensus of the 2020-2021 cohort is clear: If you are college senior or a young professional who might join Tsinghua University this September, you definitely should not miss these classes.

English News Writing (Professor Rick Dunham)

Multimedia Reporting (Professor Rick Dunham)

Though these two courses cover only basic reporting skills, they are highly valued by even experienced journalists.

“I was saying that I am a traditional (old generation) journalist and unfamiliar with recent multimedia trends,” said Tekchand Sonawane, 37, an Indian reporter who worked for a local news outlet. “But after attending the courses last semester, I am confident enough to write for all mediums.”

With more than 30 years of experience in journalism, GBJ’s co-director Rick Dunham led these two main courses with cutting-edge practices in the field. You would feel attached to his detailed guidance and how he has becomes a dedicated editor for every story.

“He is kind of a guardian whom I found every time I faced difficulties,” said Johora Nawreen from Bangladesh. “He made me passionate about journalism, the passion that I have never had before.”

Professor Dunham equips students with not only top-notch skills in writing, editing, photography, data visualization, video making, but also encouraging reporters-to-be to find the truth, achieve balance, and tell engaging stories for global audiences.

Mass Communications and Society in Contemporary China (Professor Jia Dai)

Dr. Jia Dai is among the most brilliant Chinese scholars of Tsinghua’s School of Journalism and Communication. With an upbringing in China and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, she gave lectures fully in English and enriched students’ learning with a thorough understanding of Chinese media.

“It broadened my perspective on Chinese media and the relationship between the state and media,” noted David Bartle, a student from the U.S. “The historical developments and case studies were fascinating.”

Katherin Thouvenin, a French student living in China for more than 11 years, added that Professor Dai gave a very objective overview of the historical facts, which is valuable for a person who wants to work in China in the future.

Diving into academic research on media commercialization, media control, citizen activism, or even the Hong Kong and Taiwan situations, her class addressed various pressing issues of contemporary China and inspired students to widen their horizons.

“She allowed us to have discussion or even questions about the Chinese media,” said Yvonne Chow from Malaysia. “Even though she is a Chinese, she is open to listen to our voices.”

Students give Professor Lee Miller a big thumbs up

Corporate Strategies, Case Studies of Chinese and Global Companies (Professor Lee Miller)

Taught by a veteran Bloomberg News editor, a partner of the GBJ program together with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), this class brought students to the peaks and valleys of the largest companies in China and in the world.

“We learned how business actually works, what are the drivers, who are the people, and who moves it forward,” said Irina Komarova from Russia.

Professor Lee Miller, a Bloomberg editor-at-large, showed students real-time data and up-to-date coverage of global markets and securities through a few clicks on the Bloomberg Terminal, of which Tsinghua University hosts the largest collection of all-donated terminals among any universities worldwide.

Due to remote learning, you might miss the hands-on experience of using this tool, but you can still receive the Bloomberg Market Concepts certificate after completing an online course. This marks as a highlight in your résumé for future job applications.

“It was not only fun but also helped us learn about global opportunities and how we should shape ourselves according to them,” said Bisma Ahmad, a 25-year-old Pakistani student.

First class of the year for Professor Rick Dunham's students

Hot Topics in Global Economy (Professor Rick Dunham)

The discussions about global issues seem to engage students most as this course is ranked at the top by first-year master’s students of the 2020-2021 cohort. Since remote teaching became a common practice in education, Professor Dunham has managed to coordinate a lecture series with guest speakers joining from all over the world.

“I liked having a constant rotation of diverse speakers, and we discussed a huge variety of topics,” said Andrew Justin Olsvik, a student from Canada. “It felt like we were talking about journalism in a concrete way instead of the abstract.”

Students met veteran international journalists with decades of practical experience from The Washington Post, The Hill, Financial Times, Beijing Review, China Daily, as well as scholars at global think tanks such as ICFJ, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, University of Amsterdam, University of Texas, and more.

“I learned a lot about a variety of issues without books,” said Farah Mubarak, a Jordanian GBJ student.

From China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the U.S.-China trade war, to innovative journalism businesses and especially the 2020 U.S. election, students become more aware of media discourse on hot topics and were prepared with professional knowledge and background to cover rapidly changing global developments.

Intercultural Communication (Professor Li Zhang)

Dr. Li: Inspiring and informative

“It was eye opening when we would talk about the different communication theories and journalism theories that were applied to real-life situations,” said Roger Fu, a student from Peru.

The lecturer, Dr. Li Zhang, Director of Institute of Public Relations and Strategic Communication at the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University, stressed that understanding intercultural communication is especially important as globalization and “glocalization” are having a huge impact on global business practices.

“I learned a lot about the differences in marketing of products depending on what culture they’re being advertised to,” said Fiona Lavroff from Ireland.

Besides, since students are stuck online and isolated in their respective cultures due to the pandemic, being an effective and adaptable cross-cultural communicator could thus help students leverage their work and study performances in a more and more varied workforce of the post-pandemic world.

Business News Data Mining and Analysis (Professor Lee Miller)

Catalyzing practical data journalism skillset, Professor Miller’s class in the second semester won the heart of young multimedia reporters. If you have ever heard of Google Earth Studio, Python, or Tableau, this course will give you a chance to become an expert on these data mining and visualization tools.

“It motivated me to learn new tools by myself,” said Madeline Sewon Lee, a Korean student. “It seemed challenging to me at first but I then learned how to judge what is the reliable source.”

With effective use of data visualization, Professor Miller maintains his teaching style of continuously prompting thought-provoking questions while keeping students up to date with the latest news on global businesses and the economy.

“Numbers and data can be our friends. We can tell different stories from those numbers,” Miller stressed in every class.

If you are wondering whether or not you can keep up with the hectic syllabus of the program from far away, the previous cohort can promise you not only interesting experience and worthwhile knowledge, but also the great bonds with brilliant professors and multinational classmates.

Are you ready to get on board?

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