Ancient Asian philosophy to feature in review of ASEAN journalism education

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will transform Southeast Asia and have a tremendous impact on the lives of the 608 million people who call it home. Journalists will be the ones tell-ing the stories of this transition and journalism education in this sub-region needs to be re-assessed to take this important role into account.

An upcoming meeting in Bangkok will address this need by bringing together communication scholars, media practitioners and philosophers from throughout Asia for a two-day discussion on revising the curriculum for journalism education in the region.

The meeting, which will be held on 14-15 December at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, will draw from UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education, while also examining how Asia’s age-old philosophical teachings can be integrated into course materials. The meeting falls under the wider project, “Mindful communication for ASEAN Integration”, approved and funded by the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

The aim of this initiative is to develop course materials and train the trainers to implement a newly reviewed curriculum for journalism education in ASEAN.

The project is unique in that it aims to achieve this by incorporating Asian philosophical teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism which promote harmony, protection of the environment, respect for cultural diversity and economic models that focus on self-sufficiency.

These teachings are both timeless and timely in the context of developing communication theories in the context of the AEC. Media will play an important role in facilitating and promoting regional integration and journalists need to shift their focus to a more regional perspective, with less emphasis on conflicts. New approaches must also be taken to reporting on economic, environmental and developmental issues to ensure that ASEAN’s needs, regional priorities and its historical experiences into account.

The two-day meeting will bring together communication scholars, media practitioners and philosophers from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore to present papers and share ideas with the aim to develop a new journalism education curriculum tailored in ASEAN. A core team of scholars will draw on the seminar’s outcomes to develop a web-based curriculum and resource materials to be used in trainings of journalism teachers from Southeast Asia starting in early 2016.

The IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. The programme not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.