What’s reel and what’s real about international terrorism? Whether in a coffee shop conversation or classroom discussion, Dr. Helena Vanhala can address the mutual impacts of Hollywood and terrorism. Head of the media arts department in Robert Morris University’s School of Communications and Information Systems and associate professor of media arts, Helena also carves out time to research and write. Her book, The Depiction of Terrorists in Blockbuster Hollywood Films, 1980-2001 by McFarland & Company, dissects Cold War to contemporary terrorist issues on the sound set and the world stage.
A Finnish global traveler familiar with the midnight sun as well as the dark and stormy night, Helena follows the intersection of film, broadcast news and world events with the passion and wanderlust of a freelance journalist (yes, she is). She earned a Ph.D. in communication and society from the University of Oregon, and her M.A. and B.A. in English philology from the University of Tampere, Finland. Previously an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Helena landed in Pittsburgh in 2006.
Robert Morris University also has tapped her international experiences as director of the University’s Center for Global Engagement. A journal submission reviewer for academic SAGE Publishing and former chair of the International Division of the Broadcast Education Association, Helena shares her research, professional skills and background in class and through public presentations. Action films, Hitchcock to Bond, spy movies and other topics too super-secret to mention make her Spidey senses tingle.