My dissertation: Greening the Media Literacy Ecosystem

Note: an older version of this post was accidentally published. The updated (and intended version follows).

My long absence periodic presence on the blog was mainly caused by the intensity of this past year in which I managed to write and defend my dissertation, while also maintaining a full time teaching position and being a parent of young children. The good news is that I’ve through the other end of it and can now share with you the results of my research. The title of my final dissertation is, “Greening the Media Literacy Ecosystem: Situating Media Literacy for Green Cultural Citizenship.” My PhD is in sustainability education but my passion is media education. The whole point of embarking upon my adventure was to try to understand why there was so little environmental discourse in media education as a whole. To do so I performed a discourse analysis of documents and web sites of leading media literacy organizations in North America. I also interviewed major practitioners. The results were quite interesting, and can be summarized in the abstract:

Media literacy is touted as a necessary life skill for cultural citizenship, yet as it is generally practiced there is little engagement with sustainability issues. In order to gain insights into why this is the case, this research investigated how media literacy practitioners use metaphors to frame both the role of media education in the world and how it affects green cultural citizenship. This involved analyzing web site documents and teacher resources of seven North American media literacy organizations as well as interviewing nine key practitioners within a bounded system called the media literacy ecosystem. Drawing on an ecocritical framework, I analyzed the discourses of the media literacy ecosystem by using multi-site situational analysis, qualitative media analysis and critical discourse analysis. This research explored how media literacy practitioners participate in meaning-making systems that reproduce pre-existing environmental ideologies. The findings show that media literacy education is grounded in a mechanistic worldview, thereby perpetuating unsustainable cultural practices in education. By problematizing the mechanistic discourses of media literacy education, the aim of this research was to raise awareness and to offer potential solutions for changing the nature of those same discourses. As such, I theorized a model of media literacy that incorporates green cultural citizenship, called ecomedia literacy, and outlined a path forward so that sustainability becomes a priority for media literacy educators.

I think it will be controversial because it challenges old ideas about media and communication. You can access a PDF from my page (posted under “thesis drafts”) or from Proquest.