Sonner Kehrt and Kate Harloe Awarded Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE)

May 2, 2017

New York, NY-Kate Harloe and E. T. Sonner Kehrt, both students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, are among 12 journalism students and early-career journalists chosen by Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland this summer, which uses the conduct of reporters and other media professionals in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on contemporary journalism ethics.

Now in its eighth year of operation, FASPE provides a unique historical lens to engage graduate students in professional schools as well as early-stage practitioners in five fields (business, journalism, law, medicine, and seminary) in an intensive course of study focused on contemporary ethical issues in their professions.

The FASPE Journalism program offers an approach that differs from the usual classroom experience by providing a holistic curriculum that looks beyond the specifics of formal or informal rules to focus on ethical problems faced by individual journalists in contemporary media settings. Daily seminars are led by specialized faculty who engage fellows in discussions and critical thinking about both the historical and the contemporary. The FASPE Journalism program is strengthened by the diverse perspectives of its participants and the power of place and context.

“By educating students about the causes of the Holocaust and the power of their chosen professions, FASPE seeks to instill a sense of professional responsibility for the ethical and moral choices that the Fellows will make in their careers and in their professional relationships,” said C. David Goldman, founder of FASPE.

Prior to World War II, German professionals were well regarded internationally. In many respects, they set the standard for a commitment to quality of practice and for independence from state and political influence. Yet, leaders and practitioners in each of the professions, and often the institutions they represented, were fundamentally involved in designing, enabling, and/or executing the crimes of Nazi Germany. FASPE studies the perpetrators to emphasize the essential role of professionals and to ask how and why professionals abandon their ethical guideposts.

The FASPE Journalism program examines the role of journalists in the Nazi state, underscoring the reality that moral codes governing the profession can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. With this historical background, the Journalism fellows are better positioned (and more willing) to confront contemporary issues.

In 2017, the Journalism program will be led by Gabriel Kahn, Professor of Professional Practice of Journalism at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Ilene Prusher, an award-winning journalist on the faculty of Florida Atlantic University’s School of Communication & Multimedia Studies.

“I am honored to receive a FASPE fellowship. Personally and professionally, I’ve always had a strong interest in ethics and in this period of history,” said Kate Harloe, who is currently studying narrative writing at the J-School, where she most often writes about rural America, “I’m looking forward to deepening my understanding of journalism ethics”, particularly at a time when the rules of journalism are being so fiercely debated and the institution itself so dramatically challenged.” Harloe, who received a BA in comparative literature from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, worked as an editor and community manager for Crosscut Public Media prior to graduate school. In addition to her studies, she currently freelances for The Rumpus, San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and CNET, among other publications.

Sonner Kehrt is also currently a freelance reporter and a student at the J-School, where she often writes about gentrification. Prior to entering journalism, Kehrt was a United States Coast Guard officer and worked on climate change issues in the Arctic. She holds a BS in government from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and an MA in democracy and governance studies from Georgetown University, where she studied the role of civil society in semi-authoritarian regimes. “I believe that journalists have a personal and a professional responsibility to ensure that accurate, important information is broadly accessible,” said Kehrt, “I’m looking forward to studying the implications of this responsibility during the 2017 FASPE Journalism fellowship and unpacking what it means for my own career in a shifting political landscape.”

Harloe and Kehrt join a diverse group of 63 FASPE fellows across all five programs who were chosen through a competitive process that drew close to 1,000 applicants from around the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food, and lodging.

The experience of the Journalism fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside Business and Law fellows, who together consider how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ. In 2017, the three groups will begin their trip in Berlin on Sunday, May 21 and travel on to Krakow on May 26. In Berlin, the program includes museum visits, meeting with a Holocaust survivor, and educational workshops at the House of the Wannsee Conference, the site where state and Nazi Party agencies convened in 1942 to coordinate plans for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” In Krakow, fellows will continue their seminars at Jagiellonian University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, and at Auschwitz, they will be guided by the distinguished educational staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

After the program, each fellow will submit an essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases work in all five disciplines.

The Journalism Program was initially developed with the assistance of Ari Goldman and Andie Tucher, both professors at the Columbia Journalism School. Since the Journalism program was first piloted in 2011, fellows from more than 20 journalism schools and a number of media institutions have participated. FASPE Journalism alumni are now work as editors, reporters, nonfiction writers, photojournalists, broadcasters and otherwise, across a wide range of media.

FASPE maintains long-term relationships with its fellows in order to sustain commitment to ethical behavior and to provide a forum for continued dialogue. Today, the Fellowship boasts a total of 384 alumni across its five programs.

“FASPE is committed to a long-term relationship with Fellows in order to sustain the ideas raised during the program. FASPE fosters an active network of alumni and provides a variety of opportunities for Fellows to exchange ideas and to meet to continue the dialogue started during our trips as they move forward in their careers,” said Thorin R. Tritter, FASPE’s Managing Director. “The centerpiece of these efforts is our annual Alumni Reunion & Symposium where Fellows from all years discuss the current issues in their respective fields and participate in various inter-disciplinary networking activities.”



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