RADFORD – In a recent collaborative event in the campus Emergency Operations Center, students from the Department of Criminal Justice and the School of Communication tackled the experience of a press conference with the goal of effectively delivering information to the media and to the public.
The learning space, located in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, is changing how students learn as it has been used to conduct crisis and emergency simulations that teach students how to react in difficult and complex situations that are constantly evolving.
The space has been used as an advanced learning space to conduct crisis and emergency simulations that teach students how to react in difficult and complex situations that are constantly evolving.
The collaborative nature of the event gives criminal justice students a chance to deliver a briefing before an audience and to think about the types of questions media representatives are likely to ask. The event gives communication students the opportunity to get a sense for what information is likely to be delivered in a crisis and to think about the questions that need to be asked to provide the public with an accurate and informative story or narrative.
“Ultimately, the media and the public safety community can accomplish more, including helping to safeguard the public and provide critical information and instructions, when they work together,” said Steve Owen, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice. “Bringing both areas together – criminal justice and communication – helps each to better understand the perspectives that the other brings.”
Jared Hutchins, a criminal justice student from Roanoke, said that the simulated press conference was a “fantastic” experience.
“As future law enforcement or professionals, it will prepare us for situations where we have to speak in front of the public,” Hutchins said. “It’s a definite plus to have this before we are thrown in on the spot. It’s very beneficial to our learning.”
Hanan Ouchene, a criminal justice student from Fairfax, Virginia, agreed. She found the simulation to be extremely beneficial by allowing the criminal justice students to practice public speaking techniques.
Prior to the event, the criminal justice students read and discussed crisis communication, and students also had the opportunity to read the Centers for Disease Control guidance on the spokesperson’s role through their Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication materials.
“Students took these lessons to heart,” Owen said. “I was impressed with their ability to work through the scenario and to deliver good briefings with appropriate information. Even if not an agency’s formally designated spokesperson, public safety professionals may be called upon to provide information to the media, so I’m glad the students have had the opportunity here to practice those skills.”
– Max Esterhuizen