After a string of violent crimes occurred in New Brunswick two years ago, one SC&I part-time lecturer saw an opportunity to not only help the entire Rutgers student body become more safe, but to improve journalism students’ skills at the same time.
Part Time Photojournalism Lecturer Nat Clymer created the Practicum in Photography course in which he challenges students to create photographs for the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), who plan to incorporate some of the images into print materials and web content as part of their campaign to increase campus safety at Rutgers.
Clymer explained that after one particular crime spree occurred, he saw RUPD officers stationed every couple of blocks handing out flyers which contained a simple block of text regarding how to protect one’s self.
“I’ve always felt that photographs are a much more powerful way to get a message across than words,” remarked Clymer. “People automatically internalize the feeling of pictures and understand the message you’re trying to get across much more effectively.”
The sight of the officers and their flyers gave Clymer an idea. Eager to help the Rutgers student body and the RUPD, Clymer met with Captain Paul Fischer and chief of RUPD, Kenneth Cop. Together they came up with some ideas of how to incorporate photographs into the department’s handouts, displays, and online materials. Clymer then met with the chair and faculty of SC&I’s Journalism and Media Studies Department. The result was the development of a new course: The Practicum in Photography.
Knowing the RUPD would not need new photos indefinitely, Clymer created the course as a three-credit project which aims to help a different Rutgers department every semester. RUPD is the course’s first project.
To kick off the project for the RUPD, the practicum’s students conducted a survey of the Rutgers population about situational awareness and self-protection. Based on data from the survey and information gained from a meeting with RUPD, students were tasked with generating two black and white photo illustrations to present to the RUPD. Clymer hopes the images will be used on posters, in new student orientations, and on RUPD’s website.
“Some of the pictures are quite powerful,” exclaimed Clymer regarding the students’ photographs.
Students felt similarly about the course. “The project was both challenging and rewarding because we were combining creativity with a cause, so through our photographs it was important for us to tell a really clear and easy to digest message about campus safety and how to be more aware of what's going on around you,” remarked Tara Gaffney, who graduated in December.
The practicum also teaches participants how to protect their intellectual property by learning how to register photos with the U.S. Copyright Office.
The next project the practicum will tackle is taking place during the fall 2017 semester and will assist the Health and Wellness Department at Hurtado Health Center, by taking photos that will help them more effectively communicate their messages about physical health, mental health, and recreation. This section of the course will be devoted to developing photo illustrations about what long-term health and wellness entails, according to Clymer.
Nat Clymer is a Rutgers Communications graduate and has been teaching Photojournalism at SC&I for 15 years in addition to being a commercial photographer. His work can be found here.
To learn more about the Journalism and media Studies Department, click here.