Several classes are working to extend their educational experience and involvement beyond the boundaries of campus as they partner with local businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Canton community.
Jason Moyer, assistant professor of communication arts, is having the students in his Persuasion course head six crowdfunding campaigns in order to apply the concepts they are learning in a practical way.
“The idea is to use concepts from classical Greek persuasion and use it to raise money for nonprofit causes,” Moyer said.
The project involves six nonprofit organizations. Each group is taking on the task of designing a page on Rally.org requesting money for their assigned cause. Their task is to intentionally use persuasive rhetoric in the formation of the webpage, both in the images and text.
“We had to choose a specific emotion to appeal to in the construction of our message,” said Seth Yergin, a senior communication arts major, whose group is working to promote The Martin Center.
“The Martin Center is a place where kids grades four through seven, and even high school age, can come and hang out and have a safe place to go to, something they may not normally have,” Yergin said. “So we chose pity as our emotion—which basically means we wanted people to feel bad for the position kids were in, which they had no control over.”
The campaign will primarily be run using the aid of social media to get the word out. Yergin, an award-winning filmmaker, will assist in putting together a promotional film to add to The Martin Center’s page before it is released onto Facebook and Twitter.
Several groups are already making considerable progress in their fundraising: the Rally.org page for the Tipton Family’s Adoption cause has raised over $100, the Pregnancy Support Center page has gathered over $500 in funds, and Set Free Akron-Canton has hit the $700 mark. The progress of the groups can be monitored and donations can be made by visiting https://rally.org/for/mupersuasion.
Ann Lawson teaches a course called Applied Public Relations, which is in its fourth semester of working with local organizations in an effort to help the organizations succeed and give students valuable, real world experience.
“It’s important for students to learn, not only how to do PR, but to do it,” Lawson said. “Apply what they’ve learned in a real way.”
In only four semesters, the Applied PR course, as well as another class instructed by Lawson, crises and campaigns, has worked alongside 15 local nonprofit organizations. The class is doing something new this semester, as they have chosen two for-profit businesses to partner with.
One group is working with Aultcare, a local health insurance provider. The class is currently working with the help of the Media Production II class to make a video to promote Aultcare.
The students conducted extensive research to determine Aultcare’s target audience and designed the video in a way that its messages would appeal to those specific groups. Once the Media Production II class finishes editing the video, it will be released onto social media and targeted to those audiences.
The other Applied PR group is partnering with Lenny’s Collision Center, a business owned by the father of one of the students in the class—senior communication arts major Sadie Eicher.
“Sadie came to me and said her Dad’s business could use some help with their website while we were trying to think of some places to work with,” Lawson said. “Up until now, it’s been all nonprofits. So this is new.”
One of the classes in the business department is taking a similar approach in giving students hands-on learning experience by working with local organizations. Maria Lam’s Business Consumerism class is working with the House of Loreto, a Catholic nursing home on Harvard Avenue NW, not far from campus.
The students in the class are conducting a research study of residents, families of residents, employees and volunteers to find out what it is about the House of Loreto that keeps them there and what they would like to see done differently.
“Normally you think of consumerism and it’s about little, everyday decisions—this T-shirt over that T-shirt or this can of peas over that can,” said Deidre Haupt, senior business and psychology major. “But the study looks at consumerism in terms of these big life choices as well, like where you want to place your family members.”
The class hopes to see the turnover rate of residents and employees reduced at the House of Loreto as a result of the study.
To read about one student’s experience with practical learning, check out Marcus Mayo’s piece here.