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October 23, 2014
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Media literacy group to host Earth Day webinar

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  Corey Hess/The Ithacan
Cyndy Scheibe, professor in the Department of Psychology and executive director of Project Look Sharp, said the program will host its first-ever public webinar on sustainability from 4–5 p.m. on Earth Day, April 22.

Project Look Sharp is offering students and faculty members the opportunity to learn about the importance of media literacy through its upcoming event on sustainability. The program is also accepting applications for students who are interested in interning for college credit in future semesters.

The program will have its first public webinar about its sustainability kit, Cyndy Scheibe, professor in the Department of Psychology and executive director, said. This webinar will take place via Adobe Connect from 4–5 p.m. on Earth Day, April 22.

The webinar will focus on sustainability topics including chemicals in the environment, endangered species, resource depletion, global warming and sustainability in food, water and agriculture.

In addition, Scheibe said the program has a growing interest in sustainability and sustainability education, and it plans on presenting a grant proposal to the college to develop curriculum linking media literacy and sustainability education for kindergarten through college students.

Scheibe founded Project Look Sharp at the college in 1996 as an initiative to support integration of media literacy in the classrooms. Project Look Sharp, which is housed in the School of Humanities and Sciences, provides curriculum kits and lesson plans, including ones that align with the Common Core Curriculum and are centered around academic subjects like United States history, health and global studies. These lesson plans get students from kindergarten through college involved in analyzing and evaluating media messages, thinking about them more critically and asking more questions.

Scheibe said the college was the ideal place to start Project Look Sharp because of the college’s strong media programs and because this environment would allow the program to flourish.

“Ithaca College was a perfect place to do this in part because we have teacher education here, because we have my lab and me here interested in television and kids, and because we have the Park School,” Scheibe said. “It’s this unique place that is vibrant in media production and a place that is already geared toward hands-on and getting students involved in actually making a difference.”

This year, Project Look Sharp was the first nonacademic program at the college to participate in a program review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This review was both a self-study and an assessment by an outside evaluator that primarily focused on the role of this program at the college. Scheibe said the proposal was submitted in September 2013 and was approved by Marisa Kelly, provost and vice president for educational affairs, in January.

Based upon the positive program review, the college has committed to keeping Project Look Sharp a permanent program, Scheibe said.

“For us, it is very exciting because we can work officially with different schools and different programs,” Scheibe said. “We have already had conversations with teacher education and the Park School to explore possibilities of academic programs.”

Senior Eric Poandl, who has been a student worker for Project Look Sharp for the past 2 1/2 years, said his on-campus job is both convenient and valuable.

“It’s been such a great job because I think the mission of Project Look Sharp is really strong,” he said. “There is a great group of people who are really open to interns and giving students experience when they are on campus. My job is in Peggy Williams Hall, so it is accessible, and I believe that’s a big turn-on to many students because they do not have to leave campus.”

After participating in training that was offered as a professional development opportunity in 2001, Andrea Kiely, a ninth grade global history teacher at Ithaca High School, incorporated Project Look Sharp’s Africa and Middle East kits and lessons into her teaching.

“My students appreciate the visual nature of the materials,” Kiely said. “The Look Sharp kits and lessons tend to have timely and engaging materials that are relevant to the world in which the students live. I particularly like the way the materials provide an effective way to address the stereotypes that students may have about other parts of the world.”

Scheibe will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Park School mini-course Weekend Update: The Intersection of Politics and Comedy, where she will talk about media literacy and the media literacy approach.

Scheibe said student internships have been a key component to the program for the last 10 years. Each semester, the program has between six to 12 student interns who assist with marketing, promotion and curriculum projects.

Senior Molly Podell, a Project Look Sharp marketing department intern this semester, said she has learned about running an organization and keeping it organized while working for the project. She said she works with Project Look Sharp’s database and the website, looking at its online presence to make sure information is reaching people who are interested in teaching about media literacy.

“It is a very convenient way to learn, get experience and get credits,” she said. “Anyone looking for some great credits where you’re not just getting coffee or making copies, this is a really good internship to do.”

For additional information on Project Look Sharp internships, visit ithaca.edu/looksharp.