At 5 o'clock on a Friday night, most campus buildings are devoid of activity. But once a month during that time, the Old Capitol Senate Chamber fills up with students, professors, and community members eager to learn about the world in which they live.
The crowd gathers to see Joan Kjaer moderate "WorldCanvass," a UI International Programs radio show that raises awareness of global issues of interest to Iowans. The two-hour show features conversations with UI experts researching culture, history, literature, language, politics, and art, as well as live musical performances with an international flair.
"Iowans are well-informed, well-educated, and curious about the world around them, but not everyone can make it to an afternoon talk or a weekend workshop," says Kjaer, 75BA, interim director of communications and relations for International Programs. "Through 'WorldCanvass,' we can share the international research, scholarship, and creative work of UI faculty and students more broadly, and the way we do it is through television and radio."
Kjaer spent more than 30 years in public radio—including as host and producer of the arts and humanities series "Know the Score"—before joining the International Programs staff last year. Since "WorldCanvass" debuted in November 2009, the show has explored such issues as slavery and gender, the value of an international education, and the American West of the imagination. "We leave all academic or esoteric jargon at the door and approach topics with frank curiosity," says Kjaer. "My role as host is to ask the questions members of the audience would want to ask."
"WorldCanvass" can be viewed live at the Old Capitol Senate Chamber or on UITV and other cable television services throughout Iowa. Listeners can also tune in to the show on KRUI 89.7 FM in Iowa City, Iowa Public Radio, or for free online at the Public Radio Exchange. Says Kjaer, "We hope to produce intelligent, high-impact programming that helps increase understanding of and comfort with international issues, while sharing important research and thoughtful reflection from our faculty, students, and community members."