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Travel seminar, film festival receive Exemplary Program awards

RELEASED: Jan. 19, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — Innovative programs created by two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty members will be recognized this spring by an international higher education student affairs organization.

A women's studies travel seminar and the inaugural Eau Queer Film Festival will receive the Exemplary Program Award for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Knowledge Community from NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Both programs were created by Ellen Mahaffy, assistant professor of communication and journalism, and Dr. Pamela Forman, associate professor of sociology.

The programs will be honored with Exemplary Program awards in March during NASPA's 2011 Conference in Philadelphia, Pa. In announcing the award, the award selection committee called the UW-Eau Claire programs "very creative and innovative."

The women's studies course, "LGBTQA Studies: San Francisco Travel Seminar," included a weeklong trip to San Francisco in June 2010 to experience the 40th annual Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration.

Mahaffy and Forman co-taught the course, which they described as a transformative learning experience that helped participants better develop individual and social responsibility and respect for diversity among people. They will be teaching the course again in June and July. Applications are due on Feb. 18, and are available through the women's studies program office in Brewer 55.

In addition to the LGBT Pride Festival, students attended the Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, visited LGBT organizations and met with filmmakers and LGBT activists.

Students recorded, videotaped and photographed their experiences, which they used to create digital stories that presented aspects of LGBT history and their impressions of LGBT identities. They premiered their videos as part of the inaugural Eau Queer Film Festival in October 2010 at UW-Eau Claire. Mahaffy and Forman produced a 10-minute video, which documented the relationship between the course, the trip to San Francisco and the film festival, which was shown prior to other films selected by the students from the Frameline International LGBT Film Festival.

Mahaffy and Forman credit Dr. Susan Turell and Jodi Thesing-Ritter for their roles in establishing the Domestic Intercultural Immersion Grant Program, which helped make their projects possible.

"We appreciate the widespread support from UW-Eau Claire, which will enable us to continue these efforts to address heterosexism," Forman said.

NASPA is the foremost professional association for student affairs administrators, faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students. Its Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Knowledge Community provides activities that allow for personal and professional growth, increased awareness and acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender professionals and students, and promotes understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender professional and student needs.

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JB/DW

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