La Trobe University Centre for Dialogue Media Scholarships Give Journalists a Global Edge

Two Melbourne-based journalists from different hemispheres will sharpen their perspectives on how the world works at a course on globalisation issues run by the La Trobe University Centre for Dialogue in Melbourne, in collaboration with a range of professional and community organisations.

Megan Bryne (left) and Kabir Dhanji (right) with CfD Project Coordinator Larry Marshall.

The journalists – Kenyan-born freelance photojournalist Kabir Dhanji and Age newspaper journalist and arts-science graduate Megan Byrne – have been awarded the La Trobe Centre for Dialogue's first annual Media Scholarships to attend its 10-week Our World in Crisis course.

The two scholarships were introduced this year and will be offered annually to journalists whose organisations believe they will most benefit from the course – as both a learning experience and an opportunity to participate in a cross-fertilisation of ideas and perspectives on world affairs.

Scholarship winners may be journalists already interested in and writing about international affairs, or journalists who need to understand the issues but don't necessarily report on or directly write about them. (These might include business writers, leader writers, section editors and sub-editors.)

Kabir Dhanji and Megan Byrne are both committed young journalists with a strong interest in gaining a better understanding of our rapidly globalising world, and Australia's place in it – a commitment they share with more than 50 other course participants drawn from the business sector, education, government, the professions, and religious and community organisations.

This year's Our World in Crisis course - the seventh since the series began - runs from April 29 – July 1, led by *Professor Joseph Camilleri, Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University and Director of the Centre for Dialogue, assisted by the Project Coordinator of the Centre for Dialogue, Larry Marshall, and Centre for Dialogue Manager, Craig Woolley.

Professor Camilleri said he was delighted to extend the first two media scholarships for this intensive and innovative course.

"We are living through a critically important moment of history," Professor Camilleri said. "On the one hand, we see the marvels of the Internet, the extraordinary communications revolution, a much greater international capacity to respond to human emergencies, and on the other the multiple threats of global warming, HIV-AIDS, soaring fuel costs, a potential food crisis, and the many unresolved conflicts across national and cultural borders. In all of this the quality of our public and private conversations will be vital to the way we shape the future, and our media will greatly influence the quality of these conversations."

The 10-week course

The course incorporates 10 weekly evening sessions of lectures, workshops, interviews and interactive sessions with guest speakers, at Australian Volunteers International's Fitzroy headquarters in Melbourne. It draws on the resources of top academics, specialists and practitioners from many of the sponsoring organisations, which include: Australian Volunteers International, Oxfam Australia, Pax Christi, Psychologists for Peace, the Asia Education Foundation, the Islamic Council of Victoria, World Vision, Liberty or the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, the Victorian Council of Social Service, and the Australian Education Union.

Our 2008 scholarship winners

The two winners were selected from a field of Australian journalists and Australian-based foreign correspondents, through interested media organisations and the Sydney-based Foreign Correspondents Association (of which La Trobe University is a key sponsor).

Kabir Dhanji's interest in world issues has been well documented in his work as a photojournalist, variously for the BBC's East Africa bureau, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, and in his photo-essays as a freelance photojournalist covering the Sudan, north-eastern Kenya and Somalia. Kabir's compassionate representation of the troubled issues confronting the people of Sudan is graphically represented in his portfolio of photo-essays. (Images available.)

He says that he has always found Africa a fascinating region to cover – "because it's already playing out scenarios of the future, especially with regard to the effects that the degradation of the environment is having on populations, and a myriad of other issues."

Megan Byrne writes about employment and career issues for The Age My Career section, a part-time job she combined recently with working as a marketing officer for a not-for-profit organisation assisting young people to work as volunteers abroad during their Gap year – an opportunity she has personally trialled.

Megan completed a BA/BSc double degree at Monash University last year, majoring in journalism and zoology with minors in Behavioural Studies and Chemistry. She has also written on issues such as childhood obesity, the global food shortage, and an anti-Semitic band that toured Australia, for The Sunday Age.

Megan demonstrated her understanding of the inter-connectedness of world affairs and the media's responsibilities in interpreting these in the reasons she gave for wanting to do the course.

"I would love to do this because it would give me a good grounding in current global issues, and help me write about them in an informed, sensitive manner. I feel that the media has a tendency to sensationalise issues once a story breaks, rather than monitoring situations and providing consistent, informed reports. I would like to be a part of rectifying this!" she said.

* Professor Camilleri is the author of numerous books including The End of Sovereignty? (1992), States, Markets and Civil Society in Asia Pacific (2000), and Regionalism in the New Asia Pacific Order (2003); he also edited Religion and Culture in the Asia Pacific: Violence or Healing? (2001) and co-edited Democratising Global Governance (2002).


On request

Megan Byrne; Kabir Dhanji.

La Trobe Centre for Dialogue

Professor Joseph Camilleri
Director (& Professor of International Relations)
Tel: 61 + 3 + 9479 2698
Fax: 61 + 3 + 9479 1997

Larry Marshall, Project Officer
Tel: 61 + 3 + 9479 1688



On request. Include selection of Kabir's photo-essays.