Yonty Friesem - Columbia College Chicago

Yonty Friesem

Associate Professor



Yonty Friesem, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of civic media in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago.

With 20 years of experience in media literacy education, Yonty combines their creative work as a media producer with their teaching experience and passionate advocacy for digital empathy every day at Columbia College Chicago. Applying the principles of Nonviolence Communication (NVC) Human-Centered Design (HCD) and The Leadership Challenge, Yonty helps their students to develop their creativity and leadership skills, and enhance civic engagement. Yonty teaches communication entry level courses such as COMM 102 Communiciaotn Essentials and COMM 120 Truth, Lies, and Accuracy in the Digital Age, as well as upper level courses such as COMM 325 Data Storytelling & Visual Strategies, COMM 420 Media Ecosystems and graduate courses such as COMM 503 Civic Media & Participatory Culture, COMM 601 Civic Media Practicum, and COMM 509 Nonviolent Communication Seminar. 

Back in Israel, where Yonty won several international awards for their feature Good Boy. At the same time, Yonty started their career as a media educator, they established two departments of communication in public schools while working on an award-winning filmmaker. Having received a BA in Social Sciences and Humanities, Yonty graduated from the esteemed program in Leadership and Management in Education at the Tel-Aviv University. In 2011, they moved to the U.S. to pursue their Ph.D. in media education in the joint doctoral program in education at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. While pursuing their graduate studies at URI, Yonty created media literacy programs for foster youth, co-founded a media initiative with the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a statewide youth media curriculum called GiveMe5. 

Yonty is the co-founder of the Illinois Media Literacy Coalition to advance the implementation of Public Act 102-055, which requires media literacy education for all high school students in Illinois. Yonty was one of the authors of the bill signed by Illinois governor into law in August 2021. 

Yonty together with international colleagues edited the Routledge Handbook on Media Education Future Post-Pandemic. Published on September 2022, the book with 57 chapters describes how media educators around the world adapt to the new normal of COVID-19. 

Since 2015, Yonty has been the Associate Director of the Media Education Lab, where they oversees and conducts research in digital and media literacy education. Yonty explores the impact of media production on students and teachers. Through grants and awards, Yonty has established their area of expertise in Media Education, Civic Media, and Digital Empathy. Yonty has published thirteen peer-reviewed academic articles, two encyclopedia entries, and four book chapters. In the last ten years, Yonty has provided professional development in digital and media literacy at the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy.

Yonty received their Ph.D. in Education from the University of Rhode Island and MA in Leadership and Policy in Education from Tel-Aviv University.  

You can learn more about Yonty’s award-winning media production projects, research, and professional development opportunities here: YontyFriesem.com

Instructional Areas

Civic Media, Multimedia Production & Digital Storytelling, Leadership in Media Production, Research Methods in Social Sciences

Creative Practice and Research Interests

Digital Empathy, Media Literacy Education, Civic Engagement via Multimedia Production, Leadership Development


B.A., Camera Obscura School of Art 2001
B.A., The Open University 2007
M.A., Tel-Aviv University 2010
Ph.D., Education (joint with RIC) The University of Rhode Island 2015