UNESCO releases report analysing its Model Curricula

The ongoing adaptations of the UNESCO model curricula worldwide have sparked a “healthy debate on how journalism education continues to feed off and into other better established academic disciplines”, according to a UNESCO report titled “Teaching Journalism in Developing Countries and Emerging Democracies: The Case of UNESCO’s Model Curricula”.

Fackson Banda, programme specialist in the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, notes that the report makes a case for envisioning journalism education as a constantly changing practice of empowerment.

He said: “The report covers the debate about how journalism education is positioned in universities, as well as how context matters in adapting the UNESCO Model Curricula.” In addition, the document discusses UNESCO’s work in producing new specialized syllabi that educate journalism students for a changing world – such as in data journalism and media sustainability.

The report, edited by Banda and US academic Amy Schmitz Weiss, weaves together critical reflections from two academic panels organized by UNESCO and its partners in the past year:

  • A workshop in August 2012 in Chicago at the Convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) under the theme “Teaching Journalism in Developing Countries and Emerging Democracies: The Case of UNESCO’s Model Curricula”.
  • A special panel titled “Universalizing Journalism Education? An Interrogation of UNESCO’s Evolving Contribution to the Field”, held in September 2012 in Istanbul alongside the 4th European Communication Conference of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).

Amongst the speakers at these sessions, some of whose contributions are included in the report, are Sundeep Muppidi, Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, Sonia Virginia Moreira, Gordon Stuart Adam Rosental Calmon Alves and Peter Laufer. They also include Incilay Cangöz, Pilar Carrera, Steffen Burkhardt, Kim Sawchuk, Kaarle Nordenstreng, Cees Hamelink, Saltanat Kazhimuratova and Daya K.Thussu.

The UNESCO Model Curricula have been adapted by at least 70 journalism schools in 60 countries in diverse linguistic, social and cultural contexts. “They have helped journalism education contribute to free, pluralistic and independent media in many places,” says Banda.