Jerald Swope Department Chair and Associate Professor of Digital Media and Communications

Jerald Swope


M.A. Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri
B.A. Brown University

Areas of Expertise:

Photojournalism; media literacy; digital design; photo elicitation; interdisciplinary service learning experiences

Courses I Teach:

  • Digital Media: Art, Culture and Theory
  • Photojournalism in the Digital Age
  • Photography and Tourism
  • Photography, Politics and Social Change
  • Storytelling and Design for Publication
  • Advanced Visual Storytelling
  • First Year Seminar: The Examined Life
  • Media Studies and Digital Arts Senior Seminar


Jerry Swope is a photojournalist and media educator who teaches courses in photojournalism, media literacy, digital design and newspaper publication. Prior to teaching at Saint Michael’s, Prof. Swope worked as a photojournalist at newspapers in Missouri, Idaho, Utah, and Maine.

Over the past 20 years. Prof. Swope’s photographs have been published in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Boston Globe, Vermont Life Magazine, Folk Art Messenger: Journal of the Folk Art Society of America, Saint Michael’s College Magazine, Middlebury College Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Burlington Free Press. Prof. Swope believes his work in the field allows him to bring real-world experience to his students in the classroom. In addition, Prof. Swope has been working on a documentary photo essay called “Living in Two Worlds” about contemporary Lakota life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where he taught high school at Red Cloud Indian School before and after graduate school. Images from this project are on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  More recently, Prof. Swope has started a documentary film project focused on healing stories and Lakota spirituality.

Outside the classroom, Prof. Swope has served on numerous committees including Faculty Welfare, Strategic Planning Task Force, Spirituality and Intellectual Life, and the Athletic Task Force.  He also serves a judge for the annual Global Eyes Study Abroad Photography competition and as a faculty affiliate for the Men’s Lacrosse team.


Jerry’s photographs have been published in the New York Times, USA Today, the Boston Globe – Globe Magazine, Vermont Life, Sydney Morning Herald-The Age Magazine, Middlebury College Magazine, Burlington Free Press, Rapid City Journal and Vermont Public Radio web site.  In addition my work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the Helen Day Arts Center in Stowe University of Vermont Center for Cultural Pluralism, and in the juried show of the South End Burlington Art Hop.

In addition to having his photographs published in the local, national and international publications mentioned above, Prof. Swope’s academic research interests include examining the impact of media and new technology on individuals and culture, exploring the role photographs and social media play in influencing social change, and developing interdisciplinary community based learning projects.

Past research has also included using photo elicitation methods to better understand photographic coverage of diverse communities and studying the intersection of spirituality and technology.

Currently, Prof. Swope and several Saint Michael’s College students are facilitating a photography project with youth at the King Street Youth Center in Burlington.  The goal of this project is to help empower young people by giving them a voice to share their stories through photographs.


“Bridging the Interdisciplinary Gap: Team-Teaching an Interdisciplinary Service Learning Course,” co-authored with Professor Patricia Siplon, The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 2011.

Recent Projects

Professor Swope created a long-term photo essay about contemporary Lakota life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation called “Living in Two Worlds,” and preliminary research into the areas of technology and spirituality. Also, I continue to work as a facilitator and an adviser to the Exposures program, a cross-cultural photography and multimedia project that brings students from southern Vermont, and Chicago to Pine Ridge South Dakota to collaborate with Lakota youth.

In 2007 and 2009, he traveled with students to rural Tanzania conducting advocacy journalism projects for the Ilula Orphan Program as well as researching and documenting problems associated with water scarcity.

Awards & Recognition

I have been awarded four Faculty Development Grants from Saint Michael’s College as well as Politi Funds for a collaborative project with students on water scarcity in rural Tanzania

Recent News

Jerry Swope of the College’s Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts faculty in March participated in a Journalism and Digital Media (Zoom) panel organized by the One World Leadership Center and the Vermont Council on World Affairs. The panel included Russian journalists from Burlington’s sister city Yaroslavl who previously had visited Vermont through programs of the Zoom panel’s sponsoring/participating agencies.
(posted July 2021)

Jerry Swope of the Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts, who is a professional photographer, had several images published in the Wall Street Journal January 19. Jerry was contacted by a Journal photo editor with whom he had worked before and asked to shoot still images and video for a recurring series in the prestigious paper’s Health section called “What’s Your Work Out.” The subject was Canadian snowboarder and Olympic gold medal winner Sebastien Toutant. Jerry’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal before and The New York Times, among other publications. Jerry also took the striking photos accompanying a piece about Vermont artist Larry Bissonnette, written by William Ellis of the Saint Michael’s Fine Arts/Music faculty as the cover story for the a recent edition of Folk Art Messenger, journal of the Folk Art Society of America.
(posted February 2020)

Jerry Swope, department chair and associate professor of Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Artsorganized and participated in a March 28 on-campus panel discussion sponsored by The Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice, “Nicholas Black Elk, Lakota Spirituality, and Catholicism on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Panelists along with Jerry were Robert Brave Heart, MA, Arizona State University, executive vice-president of Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota; and Damian Costello, PhD, University of Dayton, Ohio, author of Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism
(posted June 2019)

Jerry Swope, associate professor of media studies, journalism and digital arts, was a key organizer this fall when his department and two others – Fine Arts; and Environmental Studies — came together to compose a panel of four inspirational individuals, who spoke to Saint Michael’s faculty and students in the McCarthy Arts Center Recital Hall, Thursday, October 18. The talk explored the intersection of art and activism within the anti-nuclear movement and was appropriately titled “When Activism Drives Art, and Art Drives Activism.” Also, in October Jerry was inducted into the Brown University Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of an undefeated varsity lacrosse team in 1991.
(posted January 2019)

Jerry Swope, associate professor of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts, had seven photographs published in the Spring 2018 issue of Vermont Life magazine for a story on Champlain College. In addition to his teaching, Jerry is a widely published professional photographer including assignments for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the latter of which used his photos to illustrate a piece about the recent Winter Olympics.
(posted June 2018)

Jerry Swope, associate professor of media studies, journalism and digital arts, had 19 images published in the Spring 2015 issue of Vermont Life Magazine for a story about the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes in Burlington.
(posted April 2015)

Jerry Swope, associate professor of media studies, journalism and digital arts, received a scholarship to participate in a photography editing workshop Aug 13-15 with Elizabeth Cheng Krist, a senior photo editor at National Geographic Magazine. The workshop held in Stowe is sponsored by FotoVisura –an international self-publishing community and resource for art and documentary photography. In addition, Jerry had photographs publish in the Spring 2013, Spring 2014 and Summer 2014 issues of Vermont Life Magazine.
(posted August 2014)

Jerry Swope, associate professor of media studies, journalism and digital arts, in early May had some of his photographs of a house in Stowe appear on the New York Times web site in the Real Estate section. See the feature here (Jerry’s photos are numbers 22-30 of this series).