WFI Student Activities

One of the ways that we enact the WFI’s mission — communication as central to the creation of positive social change — is through the sponsorship of student activities that allow undergraduate students to engage specific social justice issues, and make a difference in communities across the globe, through their classwork. Thanks to the WFI, students at Villanova and across the world have the opportunity to influence and change society through communication.

WFI Interns on CNN

WFI Internships in Rome

One of the ways that our scholarly mission engages undergraduate students is through support of Villanova’s WFI Internship program. WFI proudly provides financial assistance to students who travel to Rome each semester to take part in this prestigious work experience, either at the Vatican or at the United Nations.

  • Established over a decade ago, the WFI Internship at the Vatican has allowed students interested in public relations, journalism, and media production to assist Vatican-related offices with social media outreach and other tasks, seeing firsthand how people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures are united by words that capture shared beliefs. Our WFI Interns worked to film virtual reality tours of the Papal Basilicas and Chapels. They were on the stage when Pope Benedict launched the Papal Twitter account, and were on the scene during the Papal Conclave and the Installation of Pope Francis. Former WFI Interns were accredited to cover Pope Francis' historic visit to Philadelphia in September, 2015.

Given this unique program, and the amazing experiences our students have had, our WFI Interns have appeared on CNN, the Today Show, MSNBC, NPR, and all four Philadelphia network affiliates. Our students and faculty have been quoted in stories run by the AP, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and numerous other media outlets.

  • Begun in Fall, 2014, our newest WFI Internship at the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), students are given the opportunity to participate in international advocacy intended to end rural poverty, by investing in rural people. Our WFI Interns at the UN have had their IFAD blogs tweeted by international NGO's such as OxFam, have written speeches for IFAD officials, and have engaged in social media advocacy to assist in realizing IFAD's mission.
Interested in becoming a WFI Intern? Contact the coordinator of the WFI Internships, Prof. Jill Flanagan
Filming WFI Social Justice Documentaries

WFI-Funded Social Justice Documentaries

Storytelling is not simply a subject engaged by Communication scholars; it is also something that students creating the WFI-funded Social Justice Documentaries use to create social change.

As part of this unique program, students spend the semester learning about film and then creating documentaries that allow them to become advocates for important societal issues—sometimes staying in the Philadelphia area, sometimes journeying as far as Ghana, India, or Costa Rica. The resulting films have won awards at local, regional, national, and international documentary festivals—and in the last two years, we've had three films chosen as finalists for the Student Academy Awards. In Summer 2015, "In Transition" and "Rise and Shine" were both selected as finalists for the Student Academy Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (out of nearly 1700 films submitted for consideration); in Spring 2014, our film “Heel’d” was selected as a finalist in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 41st Student Academy Awards competition. All told, our students have told remarkable stories that have changed the lives of both the students and subjects involved, while challenging society’s view of the issues.

Interested in seeing more about these films? Although each group of students creates their own production company and materials, we have started a YouTube Channel devoted to the WFI-Funded Social Justice Documentaries.

WFI Funded Student Project in Ghana

NEW! WFI Communication Student Grant Program

In Summer 2014, the WFI provided a grant of $12,660 to three Villanova undergraduate alums: Lauren Colegrove, Andrew Balamaci, and Nashia Kamal. Their project sought to harness the insights they gained as students of Communication to improve the lives of others. Building on relationships they had established through Villanova’s (WFI-funded) Social Justice Documentary Film Program (and Lauren's experience as a WFI Intern in Rome), they proposed to teach journalism and reporting skills to the high school students at Heritage Academy in Essiam, Ghana, and, further, to help the school establish a newspaper for their students. They have developed their idea further, into a new program connecting journalism and social justice.

Building upon this experience, the WFI is proud to announce a new grant program for undergraduate students in Communication at colleges and universities across the US. Our goal is to provide support of up to $10,000 for an undergraduate-centered project that connects communication and social change/justice. Applications will be due in April 2016, and the funds will be available in June 2016 for use during the 2016-17 academic year.

More details, including instructions for grant proposals, will be available soon! in the meantime, if you have questions about this program, please contact the WFI Director.

WFI Interns at the Vatican

WFI Interns in Rome work for Vatican offices or the UN, engaging the power of storytelling to effect change.

WFI Social Justice Documentaries 2015 Student Academy Award Finalists

In August 2015, two of our WFI-funded Social Justice Documentaries were chosen as Finalists for the 42nd Annual Student Academy Awards Competition!