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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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Chapter One: Media, Environment, and Education

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Whether in the form of a lecture, participatory workshop, or online course, teaching is not only a kind of communication practice but is also a kind of media that involves choices about how to frame and communicate knowledge. A university based on lecture halls structures a particular communication approach, whereas outdoor classrooms or community gardens provide alternate pedagogical environments that allow for differing forms of mediation. In a formal educational setting that has strict standards and testing requirements, the curriculum’s parameters have to conform to the constraints of a particular classroom environment, including the subject matter of the course and the imposed requirements of the state. An informal setting, such as an after-school program or community arts center, affords different frameworks without the constraint of official standards.

Not surprisingly, there are similarities between education and media in how knowledge is conveyed, in particular how both have traditionally been seen as transmissive. The transmissive model is essentially linear: information moves from source to receiver, like a TV network broadcasting to a mass audience or an expert teacher lecturing to students. Transmissive education and mass media mirror industrial production and distribution. As linear systems, they reflect a 19th-century concept of knowledge in which information moves through Cartesian space. By contrast, media are now increasingly more networked and nonlinear, which in turn is leading to new educational practices.

Whether based on 19th-century or 21st-century practices, teaching and media are examples of meaning design: media and pedagogy are both efforts...

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