Global Media Literacy
Take a collaborative tour of the global media environment. This course unveils the hidden ways in which our media lives intersect with people an economies in distant places. Understand the ways in which politics, cultures, business models, and conflicts shape the media we encounter—and those we don't.
In addition to its readings, lectures, guests, and discussions, this course invites us to probe and reflect on our own media existence and experience, presenting what we learn to each other and proposing critical interventions for change.
This syllabus, for students who decide to proceed with the course, should be considered a contract among us—with the instructor, the university, and one another. Please ensure that you understand it fully, and don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions or recommend changes that the class might consider adopting.
Each student is expected to:
- work together to foster a respectful, mature, convivial community based on discussion, accommodation, and attention
- seek to address problems collaboratively—first through dialogue, then through revision of these agreements, then through recourse to the instructor or administrators
- adhere to all university policies regarding academic integrity, behavior, and accessibility; we take responsibility for understanding them and the relevant procedures
- refrain from the use of screen devices during class, except in agreement with the instructor
Evaluation for the course consists of five parts, each worth 20 possible points out of a total of 100.
Participation in class discussions means active involvement as both a contributor and a listener. Students who are most adept as speakers will be expected to demonstrate attentive listening in what they say. Those to whom listening comes more naturally should make extra effort to depart their comfort zone and contribute. For all students, participation includes:
- Contributing and listening to discussions, demonstrating thoughtful, critical engagement with the readings
- Asking pertinent, respectful questions of student presenters and guest speakers
- Seeking one-on-one meetings with the instructor in case of confusion or difficulty
Each student is allotted two unexcused absences. After that, each absence without a documented excuse will result in 3 points detracted from the class participation grade.
The assigned readings and films are a required and valuable part of the experience of this course. They are not optional; studying and digesting sophisticated texts is an essential skill for media literacy.
In randomly selected class periods, we will begin with a short quiz on the readings intended to ensure that we are all doing each other the courtesy of keeping up.
Projects 1 and 2: Presentations
A significant portion of what students will contribute to this class, and what we will all learn from, comes in the form of presentations. Each student will take part in two presentations during class time—one individually, and one as part of a group. In both cases, presentations should be about 10 minutes long, plus a few minutes for Q&A. That isn't much time, so the duration should be well planned to be used in a way that is both appealing and informative. Each presentation should include:
- Confident, eloquent articulation of the material demonstrating a sophisticated grasp of its meaning and context; group presentations should be tightly integrated while including each participant equally
- Visually inviting slides that summarize the content, with no more than one or two textual points (or less) per slide
- Reference to a variety of reliable sources (cited on the slides themselves), drawing from both assigned readings and independent research
- Fulfilment of the assigned objectives for each presentation
Slideshows can be in any format, but turn them in (on D2L) using PDF or another platform-independent format. The specific objectives for each presentation assignment are detailed below.
20 points each
Project 3: Memo
The third project for this course is a written assignment in the form of a memo, a fairly informal medium used for communicating within corporations and other organizations. This is a role-playing challenge: Imagine that you are part of a media organization that is based outside the United States, and make an argument to a colleague or colleagues about something the organization should do differently. The memo should:
- Fall in the range of 1,200-1,500 words, using AP Style with correct grammar and spelling, along with in-text or hyperlinked references
- Make a well-reasoned and persuasive argument for a particular intervention, supported by data and evidence from reliable sources, including both assigned readings and independent research
- Communicate the context through phrasing and creative formatting—the intended recipient and the role of the author; demonstrate, meanwhile, research on and expertise in the organization they represent
- Undergo peer review; the draft brought for review should be complete in length and content, and each student is expected to participate in constructively reviewing others' work
Turn in the draft you use for peer review and your final revision in D2L. Further details on the content of the memo can be found below.
Based on the stated point structure, grades will be awarded as follows: A (94-100), A- (90-93), B+ (87-89), B (83-86), B- (80-82), C+ (77-79), C (73-76), C- (70-72), D+ (67-69), D (63-66), D- (60-62), F (0-59).
This course consists of three overall themes, each corresponding with a project. The workload is distributed fairly evenly throughout the semester, with two class presentations and a modest written task at the end. In the schedule below, assignments are listed according to the class period in which they are due.
Phase 1: Global Media Footprint
Text: Jack Lule, Globalization and Media: Global Village of Babel, 2nd ed. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
We begin with a wide-ranging exploration of the global media landscape. The project accompanying Phase 1 is an exploration of how global forces take shape in our everyday media lives. Each student will identify a unique, specific media entity they regularly interact with—for instance, a piece of hardware, an app, a television show, a book—and present to the class an in-depth journey into its global footprint. Questions that a presentation might seek to answer include:
- Where were its various parts constructed, and by whom?
- What raw materials does it depend on, and where do they come from?
- What does the entity disclose about its global footprint, and what does it hide?
- What business models support its development, and who benefits most from them?
- What conflicts underlie the entity's invention and persistence?
This is an individual project; each student is responsible for their own presentation.
- August 23
- August 25
- Bring a list of 3 media entities (material or immaterial) you'd like to investigate. We will schedule presentations in class.
- August 30
- Globalization and Media: Preface and Chapter 1
- September 1
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 2
- September 6
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 3
- Project 1 presentations
- September 8
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 4
- Project 1 presentations
- September 13
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 5
- Project 1 presentations
- September 15
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 6
- Project 1 presentations
- Attend Brianna Wettlaufer event at 4:30, Humanities 450
- September 20
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 7
- Project 1 presentations
- September 22
- Globalization and Media: Chapter 8
- Project 1 presentations
Phase 2: Media Monitoring
Text: Benjamin Birkinbine, Rodrigo Gomez, and Janet Wasko (eds.), Global Media Giants (Routledge, 2017)
We continue by looking more in depth at the media organizations that dominate how information spreads around the world. The accompanying project will involve reporting on an experience of ongoing engagement with a non-US outlet with content that changes at least daily. Form a group that wants to focus on a particular outlet—a newspaper, a television network, a website, an app—and saturate yourselves with it daily for at least two weeks at a time. We will ensure that, together, we are specializing in outlets all over the non-US world. Questions a presentation might seek to answer include:
- What patterns did you notice over the course of two weeks—what content was consistent, and what varied?
- What explains these patterns? What contexts, audiences, economic forces, and political powers?
- In what ways does the outlet disclose the contextual forces acting upon it? In what ways does it hide them?
- How does what you encountered compare with comparable outlets in the United States? What accounts for the similarities and differences?
This is a group project; each student will be evaluated both collectively and individually. In addition to turning in the group's slides, each student should post to D2L 10 daily diaries of what they're monitoring and reflections on it. These diaries will affect the portion of the grade for research and sources.
- September 27
- Guest: Ingrid Burrington
- “What People Mean When They Talk About ‘The Cloud’,” The Atlantic (November 4, 2015)
- “What's Important About Underwater Internet Cables,” The Atlantic (November 9, 2015)
- “The Strange Geopolitics of the International Cloud,” The Atlantic (November 17, 2015)
- “How Railroad History Shaped Internet History,” The Atlantic (November 24, 2015)
- “Why Amazon's Data Centers Are Hidden in Spy Country,” The Atlantic (January 8, 2016)
- Outline Project 2 and start forming groups
- September 29: NO CLASS
- Watch “Merchants of Cool,” Frontline (2001) (it's more fun together!)
- October 4
- Global Media Giants: Introduction
- Schedule Project 2 presentations
- October 6: NO CLASS - Group meetings
- October 11: NO CLASS - Group meetings
- October 13: NO CLASS - Group meetings
- October 18
- Global Media Giants: Any 5 chapters from Parts 1-2 (Global Giants)
- October 20
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 15 (South America)
- Project 2 presentations: South America
- October 25
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 16 (The Middle East)
- Project 2 presentations: The Middle East
- Guest: Nabil Echchaibi
- October 27
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 17 (Sub-Saharan Africa)
- Project 2 presentations: Sub-Saharan Africa
- November 1: NO CLASS
- Watch Mediastan (2013) - it's cheaper and more fun together!
- Read at least 3 articles on intrapreneurship in preparation for Phase 3
- November 3
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 18 (Eastern Europe)
- Project 2 presentations: Europe
- November 8
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 19 (South Asia) & 20 (East Asia and China)
- Project 2 presentations: Asia
Phase 3: Corporate Intervention
We conclude with a tour among the online corporations that have been “disrupting” the media landscape in recent years. For the accompanying project, you will create a disruption of your own. Imagining yourself as a participant in a major media organization (whether an employee, executive, consultant, or user) and develop a memo that articulates a proposal for how the organization could be more globally literate. Enter a fictional role in a non-fictional organization and perform it convincingly. Some suggestions:
- Highlight an insight about global media that the organization appears not to be aware of, together with the insight's relevance to the organization's operations
- Demonstrate, with persuasive and reliable evidence, why your proposal is in the best interests of the organization and/or the common good
- Articulate your proposal with a sense of awareness of the pressures and concerns that affect the recipient
- Use material from Part II of Global Media Giants that might be relevant to your memo
Each memo will undergo peer review of a complete draft; both the draft and the final revision will be turned in for evaluation.
- November 10
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 22 (Apple)
- Project 3: propose topic (D2L)
- November 15
- Global Media Giants: Chapters 23 (Microsoft) & 24 (Google)
- November 17
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 25 (Amazon.com)
- Project 3: topic approval due (D2L)
- Guest: Andrew Calabrese
- November 29
- Global Media Giants: Chapter 26 (Facebook)
- Guest: Jed Brubaker
- December 1
- Project 3: first draft due (D2L), peer review
- December 6
- Global Media Giants: Conclusion
- December 8: NO CLASS
- Project 3 due
Features of this course have been adapted from courses by the same name developed by Polly McLean and Rick Stevens at the University of Colorado; its flaws are all mine.
[ Notes ]