When media and information literacy penetrates city life


Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 2018 was celebrated from 24 to 31 October, under the theme “Media and Information Literate Cities: Voices, Powers, and Change Makers”. The involvement of many different stakeholder groups continues to grow with over 130 celebration events from 52 countries.

With people facing multiple opportunities and challenges in the new communication and information landscape, the key role of MIL as a solution becomes increasingly prominent. This was evident from the unprecedented worldwide heat on this year’s Global MIL Week in both offline and online spaces and communities.  People passed the hashtag #GlobalMILWeek from buildings to cars, to trains, to schools, to hospitals, to community centers, to libraries, to offices, to media, to town squares and from mouth to mouth.  MIL became a trending topic globally and in Europe on Twitter on 26 October.

Co-organized by UNESCO, the Vytautas Magnus University, and the University of Latvia, the two signature events of Global MIL Week 2018, namely its Feature Conference and Youth Agenda Forum, were respectively held from 24 to 25 October in Kaunas (Lithuania), and on 26 October in Riga (Latvia).

Events around the Globe

Since 2015, UNESCO intensified efforts to make Global MIL Week truly global by encouraging MIL stakeholders around the world to organize MIL-related local events and activities to celebrate the Week. It is owing to the collective efforts of stakeholders that Global MIL Week can reach local cities and communities around the globe.

This year, stakeholders from various sectors organized and registered 130 local events and activities in 52 countries. These varied from MIL seminars to school excursions to local newspaper editorial office, and to international conferences. The scales of the events ranged from nationwide to community-based. See list of celebration events here. The number of events has steadily increased in the last three editions of Global MIL Week, which demonstrates that the global attention on and demand for MIL has been rapidly growing in recent years.

© Jonas Petronis / UNESCO

Feature Events, Global MIL Hackathon, and GAPMIL Global MIL Awards 2018

Close to 300 participants from over 80 countries gathered in Kaunas for the Global MIL Week Feature Conference, the Eighth International MIL and Intercultural Dialogue Conference. Participants included government representatives, MIL experts, academicians, technological intermediaries, representatives from libraries and museums, youth leaders, and other international organizations. 5 plenary sessions, 13 parallel sessions, 1 special session, and 4 side events contributed to knowledge creation during the Feature Conference.

The Global MIL Week 2018 Youth Agenda Forum was branded as a UNESCO Youth Space for the first time. More than 200 youth participants attended the Forum, under the theme “Media and Information Literate Cities in the Era of Algorithms: Youth Voices”. Youth speakers shared their experience, expertise and activism, through interviewing MIL experts, and presenting MIL good practices.

A Global MIL Youth Hackathon was dovetailed with the Youth Agenda Forum. Funded by the UNESCO Youth Spaces Initiative, this first Global MIL Youth Hackathon was launched on 24 October. Youth from different regions got together for an intensive three-day programme to design MIL related solutions to tackle five hackathon challenges: Children and Youth in Media, Disinformation, Sustainable Development Goals, Immigrants in Media, and Dialogue. The process included prototyping, validation and pitching. The projects of the 12 teams from 10 countries were presented at the Closing Session of the Youth Agenda Forum. Nine teams were shortlisted in early November and will participate in another four-week programme to refine their work plans and prepare themselves for the final evaluation in December 2018.

© Jonas Petronis / UNESCO

The annual Global MIL Awards by the UNESCO-led GAPMIL were presented to Jane Tallim and Cathy Wing (MediaSmarts, Canada), Jordan Media Institute (Jordan), Hemmo Bruinenberg (Video Bakery, Netherlands), and Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (Mexico), in recognition of their exemplary or innovative work in the field of MIL in their respective countries. Read more about the four awardees here.

Adoption of the Global Framework for MIL Cities

Participants unanimously adopted the Global Framework for MIL Cities at the Closing Session of the Feature Conference. The Framework sets cities on a path to promote innovatively media and information literacy learning while connecting with other cities across the world. MIL Cities entails the vision of building bridges between local government authorities and NGO’s activities, non-formal and informal educators, and MIL related networks. The Conference called on UNESCO and other international, regional and national partners to take the necessary steps to operationalize MIL Cities. The Framework is available for download here.