Greening Media Education

Bridging Media Literacy with Green Cultural Citizenship

by Antonio López (Author)
©2014 Textbook XII, 200 Pages
Series: Minding the Media, Volume 13


Media are a powerful educational force that teaches about the relationship between humans and living systems while also physiologically impacting the environment. However, although long considered a tool for promoting critical thinking and cultural citizenship, media literacy does not adequately address environmental sustainability. Drawing on original research, Antonio López demonstrates how common media literacy practices reinforce belief systems at the root of unsustainable behaviors. By combining emerging literacies from social media, networked activism, sustainability education, critical media literacy, and digital ecopedagogy, the author offers a solutions-oriented critique and paradigm-shifting reappraisal of media education by advocating «ecomedia literacy.» This groundbreaking book builds on López’s previous two books, Mediacology and The Media Ecosystem, by offering a cutting-edge and radical reappraisal of conventional media literacy practices. Written in accessible and jargon-free language, this book is ideal for students and educators of media literacy, media studies, and cultural studies, and will also be vital to those advocating sustainability education, environmental studies, and social justice.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance praise for Greening Media Education
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Defamiliarizing Media Literacy
  • Who Is This Book for?
  • Navigating the Book
  • Situating My Worldview: An Autobiography of Learning
  • Epistemology
  • Chapter One: Media, Environment, and Education
  • Media Literacy and Sustainability
  • From Media Literacy to Ecomedia Literacy
  • Conceptual Framework
  • Discourses
  • Environmental Ideologies and Mechanism
  • Ecocriticism
  • Metaphors
  • Figured Worlds
  • Information Ecologies
  • Chapter Two: Metaphors as Meaning Design
  • Mechanism and Ecological Intelligence
  • The Metaphor Is the Message
  • Media Metaphors
  • Container Metaphors
  • Conveyer Belt and Transmission
  • Language and Grammar Metaphors
  • Environment Metaphors
  • (Re)Mediating Media Metaphors
  • Monoculture and Permaculture
  • Chapter Three: A Field Walk Through the Media Ecosystem
  • The Media Ecosystem
  • Media as Education
  • Media Evolution
  • Media and the Cultural Commons
  • Environmental Communication and Green Media Studies
  • Three Ecologies
  • Green Media Studies and Social Theory
  • Bridging Media Studies With Green Media Education
  • Chapter Four: Mapping the Media Literacy Ecosystem
  • Aims and Purposes
  • Content Versus Context
  • Personal Lessons
  • Mapping Media Literacy Worldviews: Summary of Research Findings
  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Selecting Organizations
  • Document Research
  • Interviews
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Results: Mapping Positions and Boundaries
  • Orientations
  • Core
  • Periphery
  • Aims and Purposes
  • External Pressures
  • Chapter Five: The Media Literacy Ecosystem’s Dominant Paradigm
  • Media
  • Implicated Actors, Lifeworld, and the Public Sphere
  • Implicated Actors
  • Lifeworld
  • Public Sphere
  • Literacy Practice
  • Discussion
  • The Figured World: Medialandia
  • Medialandia
  • Implicit Assumption: Mechanism
  • Closed Knowledge System
  • Media Literacy and Environment
  • Practitioner Care and Concern for the Environment
  • Barriers to Environmentally Themed Media Literacy
  • Recommendations
  • Reconceptualize Language
  • Media as a Place
  • Crossing the Bridge
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Discourse Analysis and Semiotics
  • Authenticity and Resonance
  • Economics and Ideology
  • The Cultural Commons
  • Intertextuality
  • Gadgets
  • Phenomenology
  • Alternative Cultural Practices
  • Cross-disciplinary Collaboration
  • Ethics Not Persuasion
  • Future Research
  • Chapter Six: Ecomedia Literacy
  • Ecoliteracy, Education for Sustainability, Ecological Design, and Ecopedagogy
  • Education for Sustainability
  • Ecological Design
  • Critical Ecopedagogy
  • Technoliteracy
  • As a result,
  • Media Literacy and Ecopsychology
  • Ecomedia Literacy Curriculum Proposal
  • Ecomedia Wheel
  • Soil (Available Design): Situated Learning
  • Cultivating (Designing): Ecomediatone and Ecomedia Wheel
  • Cultivated (The Redesigned): An Ecomediatone for Global Responsibility
  • A Case Study: Greening a Digital Media Culture Course
  • Introduction (Weeks 1–2)
  • Ecomedia Wheel Part 1: Worldview (Weeks 3–5)
  • Ecomedia Wheel Part 2: Environment (Weeks 7–8)
  • Midterm
  • Ecomedia Wheel Part 3 and 4 and Conclusion: Political Economy and Cultural Production (Weeks 9–14)
  • Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Course’s Green Design
  • Gadget Diary and Wander Assignment
  • Final Gadget Analysis
  • Course Structure
  • Conclusion: Greening the Future of Media Literacy Education
  • Chapter Seven: Media as Sustainability Education
  • Towards a Healthy Media Ecosystem
  • Social Movements
  • Storytelling
  • Sustainability Communication
  • Small Media Are Beautiful
  • Coda
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

← vi | vii → Contents


Introduction: Defamiliarizing Media Literacy

Chapter One: Media, Environment, and Education

Chapter Two: Metaphors as Meaning Design

Chapter Three: A Field Walk Through the Media Ecosystem

Chapter Four: Mapping the Media Literacy Ecosystem

Chapter Five: The Media Literacy Ecosystem’s Dominant Paradigm

Chapter Six: Ecomedia Literacy

Chapter Seven: Media as Sustainability Education


Index← vii | viii →

← viii | ix → Acknowledgments

This book is the result of more than a dozen years of exploration, experimentation, and research. However, the bulk of the research, in particular for the section on the media literacy ecosystem, came out of my dissertation work at Prescott College. (This book departs from the dissertation in many ways, in particular by eliminating the methods section and many details of the research. Because of the vicissitudes of digital publishing formats, the publisher also requested the removal of all tables. Much of the data I used was nicely visualized in tables, so if you wish to review the full dissertation, it is posted on this book’s web page: www.greenmediaed.com). Therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge those who have contributed in some way to the process and creation of this research. First and foremost, I want to thank my committee chair, Pramod Parajuli, who has the magical ability to ask the right questions and to situate research problems in their proper context. I am grateful for the input and support of my primary committee members, Tema Milstein and John Blewitt, for their belief in my research and for taking time from their busy professional activities to work with me. Thanks also to Bryan Alexander who came in at a crucial moment to offer his expertise and insights. The path to my dissertation involved several mentors whose thoughts, ideas, and inspiration are part of the final product. In particular, I offer thanks to Chet Bowers, Chellis Glendinning, Kathleen Tyner, Adrian J. Ivakhiv, Jennifer Thom, and Rich Lewis. In addition I would like to thank the following for assistance, input, and feedback: Renee Hobbs, Cyndy Scheibe, Frank Baker, Andrea Quijada, Julian McDougall, Ryan Goble, Sox Sperry, and Steve Goodman. Special thanks for this book’s series editor, Shirley Steinberg, for green-lighting publication. Finally, hugs and kisses for my dear partner, Cristina Guardata, who endured this writing process with great strength. Thanks for holding the fort!

During the five years of research and writing that went into this book, along the way some of the written materials became the basis for several published pieces. As a result, a few sections in this dissertation also appear in the following published pieces under my name: “Defusing the Cannon/Canon: An Organic Media Approach to Environmental Communication” (2010); ← ix | x → “Greening a Digital Media Course” (2011a); “Greening Media Education” (2011b); “Practicing Sustainable Youth Media” (2011c); and “Greening a Digital Media Course: A Field Report” (2013).


Defamiliarizing Media Literacy

David Buckingham (2007) posits that media literacy is the outcome of media engagement, but media education is what shapes practice. In the vernacular use of educators and policymakers in North America, “media literacy” is the more common term for the formal and informal process of teaching with or about media. Media literacy education concerns the pedagogy of media literacy, and media literacy educators are the practitioners who are involved with shaping, promoting, and defining the goals of media literacy.

For more than a dozen years I have been a media literacy educator. I am also an environmentalist deeply committed to education for sustainability. As I define it in this book, sustainability education encourages whole-systems thinking that is ecological and participatory (Sterling, 2004, p. 11). Sustainability education promotes green cultural citizenship, which means embodying sustainable behaviors and cultural practices that shape and promote ecological values within the interconnected realms of society, economy, and environment. 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. Though media literacy advocates often sympathize with environmental issues, the general practice of media literacy marginalizes ecological perspectives. Likewise, there are many in the field of environmental education who believe media and technology are anti-nature (Bowers, 2000; Traina, 1995). Mediating these differences to find common ground has become my life work and is the purpose of this book. As such, in this book I take a deep dive into my community of practice to analyze why this disconnection exists. By mapping the field, I propose a potential solution.

To contextualize my perspective, I would like to share two pivotal experiences, one at a popular congregation of environmentalists and another at an international media literacy conference in Europe. The first occurred in 2003 at the Bioneers conference in San Rafael, California, which is a ← 1 | 2 → gathering of “social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic ‘nature’s operating instructions’ to serve human ends without harming the web of life” (Bioneers, 2013). This annual event features a variety of visionary thinkers and activists who are developing solutions for a safer and healthier world. I attended the conference with a group of Latinos and Native Americans from New Mexico with the support of a grant from the Pond Foundation. We were invited to encourage cultural diversity at the conference. Being of mixed cultural heritage (Latino/Euro-American), I am accustomed to playing the role of a “bridger”—one who mediates between different social groups and worldviews. At the time of the conference I was a media literacy educator working primarily in Native American and Latino communities. During that time I was balancing my role as an educator of critical thinking tools, media technologies, popular culture, and digital storytelling with the cultural reality of indigenous and land-based youths in rural New Mexico. The conference was an exciting opportunity to see how the various perspectives I was negotiating would intersect with leading sustainability models.

I attended a session led by global justice activist and anti-technology crusader Jerry Mander (1991, 2002). The panel was organized around themes developed in a book he co-edited, The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn Toward the Local (Mander & Goldsmith, 1996), which focuses on the rise of globalization and the danger it poses for traditional cultures, economies, and environments. These were relevant issues for the communities in which I was working, for many of them were experiencing the consequence of the privatization of local resources, such as water, and the impact on their ecosystems of military research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Throughout the presentation I kept seeing the connection between media and the ideology of globalization, helping me realize that media literacy could be used as a tool for students to understand and debate dominant economic discourses. Furthermore, a seed was planted that media literacy could be an invaluable tool for sustainability education. After the panel I approached Mander and asked if he was willing to meet with me to discuss the connection I was making between media education and global justice activism. He graciously accepted and later that day he joined me at a community table near the conference’s main bookstore. After asking him to sign my personal copy of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (2002), I then presented my concept. I suggested that an excellent way to introduce the complexity of globalization to young people is through media literacy. I suggested that using ← 2 | 3 → media texts as probes and objects-to-think-with could promote discussion and dialogue about globalization and social justice debates. Furthermore, I proposed that media literacy could be a way to introduce sustainability to students, just as it had been used by public health advocates to teach young people about the hazards of smoking and drinking alcohol. I suggested that we could work together to develop this project, but he answered me rather unexpectedly. He told me that he thought media literacy was a good idea, but he was against it. When I asked why, he replied that it is because media literacy “makes media more interesting.”

And that was the end of our discussion. But the encounter prompted an inner dialogue that continues in this book. Education should interest learners in the world around them, a world that is highly mediated. Nonetheless, I understand the spirit of Mander’s response, which is that potentially media literacy makes media more attractive. Indeed, some research suggests that didactic media literacy produces a boomerang effect by encouraging the opposite behavior it was intended to mitigate (for an overview of the research, see Banerjee & Kubey, 2014). So rather than encourage critical thinking, when practiced in certain ways, media literacy potentially can make media consumption more enticing to students. Moreover, there is a school of thought often identified as Neo-Luddism that views media and technology as desensitizing us from living systems (Bowers, 2000; Ellul, 1964; Glendinning, 1994; Mander, 1991; Mumford, 1970; Sale, 1996). I should have realized that what I proposed went against the kinds of arguments Mander has made in his writings and activism for the past 30 years. Yet, I felt very uncomfortable with his response, for I knew through personal experience that media literacy is very empowering. Nonetheless, the discussion with him prompted me towards this inquiry: When it comes to sustainability education, would media literacy encourage unsustainable cultural practices? Or could it be part of the solution?


XII, 200
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (January)
critical thinking sustainability education environment sustainability digital ecopedagogy
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. XII, 200 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Antonio López (Author)

Antonio López holds a PhD in sustainability education from Prescott College and is Associate Professor of Media Studies and Communications at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.


Title: Greening Media Education
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
214 pages