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U.S. Department of State campaign on democracy recognizes FIU hospitality professor and Fulbright Scholar's public service work on COVID-19

U.S. Department of State campaign on democracy recognizes FIU hospitality professor and Fulbright Scholar's public service work on COVID-19

U.S. State department grant winner witnesses democracy project in action

November 2, 2020 at 11:00am

A professor in the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is being recognized for public service work on democracy and media literacy leading up to Election Day 2020.

Carolin Lusby received a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund in April to address media literacy education and community resilience, topics of increasing importance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lusby's two-part project includes an online module aimed at increasing well-being and resilience in times of crisis, and a mock trial that teaches democratic principles such as media literacy, decision making and provides information on COVID-19. 

The mock trial is currently being used at Georgetown University Law School, and later will be used at the University of Sao Paulo, the World Leisure Center of Excellence in Sao Paulo and in high schools and communities across the world. 

She worked with partners in Brazil, where she served as a Fulbright Scholar for the 2019/2020 year, and Washington, D.C., to develop a program to fight increasing feelings of despair, anxiety and depression due to the crisis. Using mock trial as a learner-centered approach, the project teaches how to interpret information, evaluate sources and critically analyze a best course of action.

“Receiving the grant was an honor, but to see students and educators around the world using my ideas and the program to strengthen civic society and democracy is amazing,” said Lusby, who leads the Chaplin School’s tourism program and actively conducts research on international tourism issues.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Lusby worked with several research groups at the University of Sao Paulo to increase well-being and resilience through community-based tourism. Part of that included working one-on-one with quilombo settlements, marginalized communities founded by fugitive slaves in Brazil. Selected as a Young Leaders of the Americas last year, she advocated for members of the quilombo, who face a lack of education and integration into society.

Since April, the U.S. Department of State, through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has funded more than 25 projects that address the current global health crisis in cities and towns across the United States and virtually with international partners in communities around the world. Alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs submitted proposals for public service projects that help build community resilience.  

Exchange alumni are contributing in meaningful ways by sharing media literacy best practices that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, increasing access to virtual and at-home education for youth and their families, providing artistic and creative outlets for local and global audiences, and responding to other community needs. 

“We are thrilled that our U.S. alumni are using the skills and knowledge they gained during their exchange programs overseas to join the worldwide effort against COVID-19,” said Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “These Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund public service projects uplift communities and provide them with resources and education needed to fight the pandemic.”