Yonty Friesem, Ph.D. is an award winning scholar, educator, and filmmaker who advocates for inclusive practices through media. Yonty’s scholarship and practice in civic media focus on the opportunities to improve social and emotional skills of learners in formal and informal settings using play strategies and media production as a form of community engagement. Yonty’s publications in academic and professional journals include theory of empathic dialogs through mediated communication they call digital empathy; curriculum and program evaluation in media education; and explorations of implementing digital and media literacy in schools. For more than twenty years, Yonty has worked with a number of youth media organizations, universities and colleges across the United States as well as in the UK, Cameroon, Turkey, France, Brazil, Israel, Finland, and China. Yonty also organized and produced many international conferences such as SIDL (2013, 2014), IAICS (2014), NMLC (2017,2023), NAMLE (2019).

Yonty is the Co-Director of the Media Education Lab and an Associate Professor of civic media in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago, where Yonty became the founding director of two graduate programs: MA in Civic Media and the MA in Strategic Communication. Yonty received his PhD from the joint doctoral program in education at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. M.A. Magna Cum Laude in Leadership and Management in Education, Tel-Aviv University. B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Social Science and Humanities at The Open University of Israel, and a professional diploma as a Video and Film Producer from Camera Obscura School of Art.  Yonty has completed certificates as a Nonviolence Trainer (2014), LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator (2018), Solution Journalism Educator (2019) and currently working toward a Trauma-Informed Practitioner certificate.

For full CV, see here: Dr. Yonty Friesem CV

What People Say

Yonty is an extraordinary, multi-talented individual who has a strong drive, high levels of intellectual curiosity and imagination, superb critical thinking skills, and great capacity for leadership and collaboration.

Dr. Renee Hobbs (she/her)
Founding Director
Media Education Lab

Aside from being a dedicated researcher, Yonty also has tremendous organizational and technical skills. Yonty is full of positive energy and enthusiasm and helps create a collaborative atmosphere.

Dr. Norbert Mundorf (he/his)
Chair & Professor
Communication Studies,
University of Rhode Island

All of the roles and responsibilities Yonty has taken to have shown their willingness to serve the media literacy community, regardless of the time commitment and efforts needed.

Michelle Ciulla Lipkin (she/her)
Executive Director
National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)

Let’s collaborate.