A doctoral student in Communications and Society, Tewodros 'Teddy' Workneh is the recipient of a 2011 Gary E. Smith Summer Professional Development Award. Financial resources provided by the Smith Award enabled Teddy to spend a portion of summer 2011 in Ethiopia, where he worked on a documentary film project he had long been planning. The subject is small-scale coffee farmers and the challenges they face in obtaining fair prices for their products on the international market. "The high quality of Ethiopian coffee makes it unique," explains Teddy. "While the battle to trademark their coffee varieties continues, the coffee farmers are left to struggle with trade laws that make them invisible in the chain of international players. Their position is just beginning to receive worldwide attention, and the aim of this documentary project is to contribute to this consciousness campaign."
The topic is important to the filmmaker because, as an undergraduate student, he attended Debub University in the coffee-rich Rift Valley region. For his dissertation, he will also be pursuing research on the role of information and communication technologies--particularly mobile phones--in rural development in Africa. Teddy came to the University of Oregon with a strong professional background in radio and television production in Ethiopia, and he is fully committed to returning to Ethiopia when his degree is completed. His goal is to become a leader in journalism and communications education on the African continent.