Digital media professor Moses Shumow recognized for excellence in engagement

By Alexandra Rodriguez-Carhartt

For his work with high school students in Liberty City, Moses Shumow, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has received FIU’s 2014 Excellence in Engagement award.

Moses Shumow 4.jpg.jpgShumow, a digital media professor, works with The Education Effect, FIU’s partnership with Miami Northwestern Senior High School, to improve the “digital divide” – the social and economic inequity caused by limited access to technology.

Along with Maria Lovett, director of The Education Effect at MNW, and Professor Tania Lopez of FIU’s English department, Shumow created digital media storytelling classes taught with the help of FIU students.

His greatest reward, he said, was “watching students from FIU prepare and then interact with students from Miami Northwestern. They took the assignment and challenge very seriously and jumped head-first into preparing curricula, thinking about ways to engage and collaborate with students younger than them, with perhaps much different life trajectories.”

As FIU students’ time with Miami Northwestern students was coming to an end, Shumow witnessed what he describes as a “wonderful experience” where the students were able to “just hang out in the courtyard and talk about life in Miami, Liberty City and at their respective schools, as well as their hopes, dreams and fears about the future.”


Students from FIU and Miami Northwestern Senior High School teamed up to produce the Humans of Liberty City project.

For Shumow, this validated their work and “showed clearly what it can mean in the lives of our students when we push them to engage.”

Shumow’s research deals with understanding digital media, how people connect and the essential role of the Internet in the 21st century. Having conducted research on how immigrants use the Internet and social media platforms to stay connected to loved ones back home, he said it is clear to him how important and essential media knowledge is to young people.

“How can you look for a job without access to Internet,” he said. “Affordable access to Internet is what we need.”

Shumow is working on a new project to bring free Internet access to students and their families in Liberty City, where fewer than 30 percent of residents now have access. His team has requested funding through the Miami Foundation for the project, known as Liberty City Digital Commons. Part of the foundation’s decision will be made based on online voting by the public.

The project would create a Wi-Fi network in Liberty Square, the largest public housing development in Liberty City, where many of Miami Northwestern’s students and their families live. The hope is to eventually replicate the project in other parts of Miami.

“Moses understands how the lack of access to technology — both physical devices and software – and most importantly the Internet— is crippling our students and their families in Liberty City,” said Lovett, who is partnering with Shumow on the project. “His work is inspired by addressing the issues— the countless students who cannot finish assignments or fulfill the required online courses for graduation due to the digital divide.”

Shumow, who holds two bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish, a master’s degree in broadcasting and a Ph.D. in communications, was also involved in creating the “Humans of Liberty City” project, a spinoff of the popular Humans of New York website.

Humans of Liberty City uses digital media to tell stories of Liberty City residents and empowers students to learn to tell their own stories.

Led by FIU and MNW students, the project emerged out of an FIU writing course designed to help students with critical writing skills, interviewing techniques and digital media production skills.

Shumow said he is honored to be recognized by FIU and is proud of the level of community engagement the university has.

“What impresses me most about FIU is how connected we are to our community,’’ he said.

Lovett said Shumow’s work plays a big part in that.

“He is a phenomenal teacher, scholar and researcher who consistently operates within the paradigm of social justice,” she said. “I am so inspired to collaborate with FIU faculty like Moses who connect their passion and interests with the work of The Education Effect.”

To support Shumow’s Liberty City Digital Commons project, vote online at the Miami Foundation Accelerator Grant site