Columbia, Mo. (Dec. 20, 2012) — Using an innovative teaching model, New York Times national investigative reporter Ian Urbina and Professor Charles Davis will team-teach a course in obtaining and using government information.
Urbina will appear weekly via tele-presence and set the agenda, and Davis will operate the course as a “virtual office” in which students work on research tasks and Freedom of Information Act requests.
“This is the ‘Missouri Method’ in the digital age, in which we leverage technology to bring professional journalists into the classroom,” Davis said. “Our students can learn from the best in the business and get their hands a little dirty in the process.”
In addition to weekly virtual chats, Urbina will make a mid-semester classroom visit, adding the human touch to “Controls of Information,” a graduate FOI seminar that has been taught at the School since the Freedom of Information Center‘s founding in 1958. The National Freedom of Information Center is headquartered at the School.
Rather than simply talk and read about the law, students in “Controls of Information” use the laws on a weekly basis, gaining valuable experience in request strategy, negotiating with government agencies and reporting on documents. Partnering with the Times takes the School’s “teaching hospital” approach to new heights, Davis said.
“Knowing how to get and properly use documents is key for good investigative journalism,” Urbina said. “So, I’m thrilled to work with the University of Missouri and its students in refining those skills.”
Urbina is based in the paper’s Washington bureau. He has degrees in history from Georgetown University and the University of Chicago, and his writings, which range from domestic and foreign policy to commentary on everyday life, have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Harper’s and elsewhere.