Free Tools and Lesson Plans for University Students

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, an initiative of the Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda ( ICMPA ) at the University of Maryland, has launched an online set of tools, lesson plans, case studies and curricula to teach secondary and university students around the world about the vital role of media in building and supporting civil society.

"There is no global issue or political arena in which the statement of problems and the framing of possible solutions are not influenced by media coverage," said Susan Moeller, the director of ICMPA and the lead professor of the Salzburg Academy. "Students in both the developed and the developing world need to understand the different ways media shape our world - and the essential roles media can play in fostering civil society and ensuring transparency and accountability."

This year's Salzburg Academy brought together faculty from 15 top universities around the world and university students from five continents to create dynamic online and downloadable lesson plans. The professors together with students who ranged from undergraduates to PhD candidates worked to research and write case studies and related exercises about how media affect the public's understanding of their own societies, governments, and regions and how media can help bridge cultural and political divides.

"Citizens around the world need to join together in a community of knowledge about media," said Jordi Torrent, project manager for the UNAoC Media Literacy Education Initiative. "The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is partnering with the Salzburg Academy to foster global tolerance and understanding through the teaching of media literacy."

UNESCO is also partnering with the Salzburg Academy and has been deeply involved in helping to create curricular toolkits that support Freedom of Expression and Global Media Literacy.

The Academy website is fully searchable. Teachers, students, media development experts, NGOs, journalists, home-school parents and others can find resources either by moving sequentially through the six module topics, or by conducting an advanced search-such as looking for lesson plans about graphic images or exercises that call for role-playing. Visitors to the site can choose to comment on the lesson plans after registering on the site. They could, for example, upload their own classroom exercises or resources-and they can also download as a print document the lesson plans already up.

The website is launching with 20 complete lesson plans that were created during the 2008 Academy session. Over the course of the fall, dozens more will be uploaded.