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DU Faculty Keep MFJS Community Together, While Apart

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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

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By Tim Carpenter, senior strategic communication major

As the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to almost all face-to-face interaction, DU professors were among the many who quickly moved to adapt, creating online courses for spring quarter and finding ways to stay connected with students. In spite of social distancing protocols, the faculty and staff of the Media, Film & Journalism Studies (MFJS) department is keeping the community tight-knit.

MFJS professors are dedicated to maintaining collaborative and educational courses for all students while continuing their research and considering how the pandemic changes their respective areas of study. Although faculty are busy restructuring their curriculums and conducting research of their own, they have also worked to remind students of the importance of attending to their mental health and well-being, and finding new ways to self-motivate, as MJFS faculty Derigan Silver, Sheila Schroeder and Joe Brown discussed in an interview.

Associate Professor Derigan Silver is teaching the New Media Law and Regulation course this spring. Although he is only teaching one course this quarter, Silver is staying busy with his research, which is focused on recent Supreme Court cases. Professor Sheila Schroeder and Assistant Professor Joe Brown both teach Film Production courses while also working on Project DU F.I.L.M. and independent documentary projects. While each of these professors were impacted by the move to online classes, they all chose to focus on the students, and especially on students' mental health and motivation during this unprecedented time.

In an interview during spring quarter, Silver discussed the importance of mental health, saying "it is okay to not be okay right now." He noted that we are all facing new challenges and said he is working with students to overcome their individual challenges and continue to strive for growth and success.

The same theme arose in an interview with Schroeder, who said "I would encourage everyone to step-away when they need to, and take care of themselves... and when you need to do that, take the time." For Schroeder, this means taking time to get outside and play golf, her favorite hobby.

The professors also encouraged students to stay motivated during their time of isolation. Brown said when he started his career in film production, self-motivation was key. He uses his personal story to show students the importance of being "self-starters," saying "I am trying to encourage students to develop that attitude anyway, but especially given these circumstances." Brown encouraged students to use their free-time and channel their frustrations into something they are truly passionate about -- whether that be writing, photography, film production or any other hobby.

Interviews with these MFJS professors, and many others, were highlighted in an MFJSFromHome mini-documentary, which is included below. Students and friends of MFJS can also stay connected by following the department's many social media channels: @MFJS_DU on Twitter, @DuMedia2020 on Instagram and Media, Film & Journalism at DU on Facebook.

For more information about the importance of mental health, visit the University of Denver's Health and Counseling Center (ThriveAtDU) website, call 303-871-2205, or on Instagram @ThriveAtDU.

MFJS communication interns Tim Carpenter and Audrey Yin interviewed professors to create a mini-doc about how teaching and research have changed during the pandemic; watch the mini-doc here or in the embedded video below.