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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 Four: Mapping the Media Literacy Ecosystem

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Aprimary assumption regarding media literacy advocates is that when learners become fluent in the techniques and tactics of media persuasion and production, it should lead to some kind of active and attentive engagement with media. But when it comes to promoting green cultural citizenship, this may not necessarily be the case. As Orr (1994) warns about standardized education’s impact on environmental perception, literacy does not necessarily translate into ecological responsibility: technically oriented education can turn well-meaning people into planetary “vandals.” As Orr asserts, “Now more than ever…we need people who think broadly and who understand systems, connections, patterns, and root causes…. This is an unlikely outcome of education conceived as the propagation of technical intelligence alone” (1994, p. 23). Indeed, media literacy practices can normalize the separation between media and the environment, and in some cases narrowly define technical proficiency as the sole criteria for literacy. Indeed, the manner in which “media” are defined ultimately impacts whether or not media literacy practices can be greened.

One of media studies’ most important impacts on media literacy education has been how it approaches media as an “other.” Like “literature” in literature studies, The Media is a socially constructed category (Bennett, Kendall, & McDougall, 2011). From this perspective media are an abstraction “out there” that has particular characteristics defined not by their objective reality but by the social practices of practitioners that view media through particular lenses. For instance, though books are a kind of media, they are typically eliminated....

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