Yonty Friesem - Columbia College Chicago

Yonty Friesem

Associate Professor



Yonty Friesem, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Graduate Director in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago.

With 25 years of educational experience providing professional development and teaching in K-12 and higher education, Yonty combines their teaching experience, their creative work as a media producer and passionate advocacy for digital empathy every day at Columbia College Chicago and beyond. At Columbia, Yonty founded the two interdisciplinary graduate programs: the MA in Media & Social Impact (2018) and the MA in Strategic Communication (2021). Applying the principles of Nonviolence Communication (NVC), Trauma-Informed, Healing-Centered and Equity-Based Education, Yonty helps faculty and students to develop their creativity and leadership skills while enhancing their 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. 

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. 

Between 2020-2022, Yonty lead an international-intercultural collaboration that resulted in the co-edited The Routledge Handbook on Media Education Future Post-Pandemic. Published on September 2022, the book describes within its 57 chapters how media educators around the world adapt to the new normal of COVID-19. Additionally, Yonty has published thirteen peer-reviewed academic articles, two encyclopedia entries, and four book chapters.

Yonty also serves as the co-Director of the Media Education Lab, where Yonty designs and conducts research on professional development with and about digital and media literacy education. In various roles over the last 13 years at the Media Education Lab, Yonty has worked with organizations, universities and colleges across the United States as well as in Brazil, Cameroon, China, Finland, France, Israel, Korea, Romania, Turkey and the UK. For the last ten years, Yonty has provided professional development in digital and media literacy at the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, University of Rhode Island. Through grants and awards, Yonty has established their area of expertise in professional development, digital empathy, media & social impact. 

Yonty has a 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 professional development, advocacy and media production projects, research, and here: YontyFriesem.com

Instructional Areas

Data Storytelling, Media & Social Impact, Nonviolent Communication, Media and Digital Literacy, Leadership & Team Building, Research Methods in Social Sciences

Creative Practice and Research Interests

Leadership & Professional Development, Higher Ed Trauma-Infromed Education, Digital Empathy, Media Literacy Education


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