CU Backpack Journalism

The Backpack Journalism program at Creighton University is a unique summer study-abroad program that allows students to immerse themselves in developing communities in such far-flung places as Uganda and the Dominican Republic. While abroad, the students interview, film, record, and write. When they return to Creighton, they take the stories they have collected and develop them into a short documentary film. The films produced by the Backpack Journalism program are award-winning and have been shown at festivals across the country.

I always wanted to participate in the Backpack Journalism program when I was at Creighton, but my financial situation prevented me from doing so. However, after I graduated, the leaders of the Backpack Journalism program offered me the opportunity to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assist with the filming of a short documentary. So, even though I wasn’t traveling as part of a course or with my peers, I got to experience my own version of the Backpack Journalism program. You can see more about my experience here and here.

When I returned from the DRC, the leaders of the Backpack Journalism program approached me about redesigning the program’s website. Since the course is interdisciplinary with a focus on new media, regular blogging is one of the requirements for all of the student participants. The program had three previous iterations of the website that needed to be combined into a new, beautiful, user-friendly site.

As always, my focus in designing this site was simplicity. In order to simplify the site structure, I pared down the navigation from 9 links to 4 essential sections: About, Projects, Blog, and Films. This makes it easier for users to focus on the most important aspects of the program. The design of the site is slim and clean and unobtrusive. It is fully responsive. And most importantly, it is sustainable. It will serve the program for years to come, no matter if the participants are shooting in Africa or trekking in Alaska.

I am proud of the site I built, but I am also proud of the work that the Backpack Journalism program is doing—both in terms of the experiences it affords students and the voices it gives to those who may not otherwise be heard. I’m tremendously grateful to have had this opportunity, and I look forward to seeing what John, Tim, Carol, and their intrepid students create in the years to come.

You can visit the site here.

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