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Greening Media Education

Bridging Media Literacy with Green Cultural Citizenship


Antonio López

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.
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Introduction: 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...

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