After years of hard work, The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy (Two Volume Set) is now out. Touted as, “The definitive international reference on a topic of major and enduring importance,” it features some of the top media lit scholars in the world. I have two entries, “Ecomedia Literacy” and “Communication.” Edited by Renee Hobbs […]
While new gadgets and software platforms are touted as necessary aspects of cultural citizenship in media literacy discourses, this view of education, empowerment and participation is usually thought of in limited, anthropocentric ways that exclude living systems and sustainability as integral aspects of communication technologies. This essay proposes that media education should enable us to closely analyze the institutions, technological forms, cultural practices and worldview that are shaped by media technology, including how they impact ecological sustainability.
Among the various topics covered by the field of media studies, core theory courses and electives typically include a survey of media, culture and society, digital media, theory, ethics, globalization, propaganda, politics, gender and race, film, intercultural communication and celebrity culture. However, with exception of the field of environmental communication, in terms of ecological themes and sustainability there are very few examples of “green” methods that can be incorporated into media studies classrooms.
Sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote many years ago, “Those who rule the management of symbols, rule the world.” For many Native Americans, symbols are ciphers of power, a type of symbolic “medicine.”
Many climate change activists view mass media as a kind of “magic bullet” that can be aimed at the public mind. This article argues that such an effort mirrors a mechanistic strategy of industrial production and remains a ‘‘shallow’’ method of environmental communications. In response, it is argued that ‘‘organic media,’’ like glasnost, is based on open and local contexts.
In my everyday practice I try to unite perspectives from the fields of media and sustainability education, but having a foot in both worlds has been a struggle. In the process of developing a middle way I have encountered resistance from both educational cultures.
Mediating these differences to find common ground has become my life work and is the purpose of this dissertation.
Ideally, it should be possible to develop a framework that combines media literacy and ecoliteracy, but an ontological difference between the disciplines that inform these educational approaches makes the process difficult.
Though most media literacy practitioners are probably not conscious of this, I now believe the goal of media education is to help people find a sense of place, buttressing the argument that the Western pathology is the consequence of individuals having no stable center. The process of the capitalist enclosure to uproot people from the land, to dislocate their center, and to reconfigure their consciousness into an abstraction is just the latest symptom of a much more ancient design flaw in our particular model of civilization.