UNESCO issues new syllabi to support teaching of journalism for sustainable development

With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) coming to an end, and being replaced with what will be called the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs), a long-term pedagogical strategy requires that journalism teachers globally begin to critically rethink the correlation between a free, independent and pluralistic media system and the overall process of sustainable development.

A new UNESCO publication titled Teaching Journalism for Sustainable Development: New Syllabi offers an insight into how such a process of critical rethinking can unfold in the classroom. A collection of 8 syllabi, the book clarifies how the social, political and environmental dimensions of sustainable development can be appropriated within the overall design of journalism curricula.

In his remarks on the syllabi, Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General for Communication and Information, underscores what he calls “UNESCO’s unique normative role in promoting good practices and agenda-setting with regard to journalism education worldwide.”

“In this regard,” Engida argues, “the publication helps to extend our theoretical understanding of journalism as a responsive, dynamic and evolving practice. It is thus a significant step beyond the Model Curricula for Journalism Education originally published in 2007.”

Bringing together a diverse ensemble of journalism education experts internationally, the syllabi represent UNESCO’s ongoing attempt to integrate the notion of sustainable development into journalistic pedagogy, thereby extending the Model Curricula as well as the supplementary Compendium of New Syllabi.

In early September, the book was informally introduced to UNESCO’s Member States by Guy Berger, Director of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, in a CI Knowledge Café presentation on UNESCO, the Internet and the SDGs.

Edited by Fackson Banda, a programme specialist with UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), the syllabi are set to be formally launched during the annual conference of ORBICOM – a network of UNESCO chairs in communication – to be held from 28 to 29 October 2015 at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City.

The publication is a project of the IPDC’s Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education.