CrAL Project and UNESCO MILID Unitwin Cooperation Program present the MIL Research Agenda 2024-2028 | Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación (UAB)

June 1, 2024

Around twenty experts in communication, research and journalism met to try to identify the major challenges of research in the field of Media and Information Literacy (MLI). The seminar was organised by the Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación and the project “CrAL – Creative Audiovisual Lab for the promotion of critical thinking and media literacy”, in cooperation with the UNESCO MILID Unitwin Cooperation Programme. The meeting was held on 13 December at the Torre Vila Puig of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and served to set up a permanent seminar that will function as a high-level group of experts on MILID activities in Spain.

This first seminar is also part of the work of the UNESCO MILID network to develop a Global MIL Research Agenda (MIL Research Agenda) 2024-2028. This agenda is an initiative of the “UNITWIN Cooperation Programme on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue” of UNESCO, together with the MIL Alliance and the many UNESCO Chairs, as well as entities and projects working in the sector in relation to the Organization; and its mission is to become a vector that facilitates the connection between the field of research and the field of social and political action in media literacy. In this sense, it is emerging as a conceptual framework of reference that will allow researchers, public policy makers and other actors in the sector to share experiences and knowledge and to make concrete efforts.

The UAB’s Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación is also working along the same lines, and many of its initiatives aim to offer resources for raising awareness and promoting media literacy in a wide variety of journalistic and non-journalistic scenarios. Initiatives such as the project “CrAL – Creative Audiovisual Lab for the promotion of critical thinking and media literacy”, which, together with five European institutions, strives to provide the educational community with the necessary tools to combat insufficient media literacy, cultivate students’ critical thinking and help them understand the responsibility and power of their voice.

The initial meeting in Bellaterra served, then, to elaborate this first research agenda for Spain and its results will contribute to the elaboration of the subsequent global agenda. The ten research challenges identified by the experts during the meeting were the following:

  • The impact of the media environment on children and youth: benefits, risks and MIL policies.
  • MFA and public space, the future of democracy.
  • Equality, equity and social inclusion in the new media environment.
  • MIL information and quality content.
  • Education, training and MIL policies.
  • The impact of AI.
  • The need to update the conceptual framework of MIL.
  • MIL as a driver of a new intercultural dialogue.
  • Governance and transparency and the development of media technology.
  • The need to develop a new system for transferring MIL research to society.

In this sense, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, Professor of Journalism and Director of the UNESCO Chair in Media and Information Literacy and Quality Journalism, urged to continue working to ‘refound’ the framework of media and information literacy. “The last decades have seen decisive changes in the media environment that we have not yet been able to assimilate: the digital transformation, the irruption of the Internet and the web, artificial intelligence, the successive crises of capitalism, climate change, the transformation of production, etc. Therefore, the object of research, theoretical approaches, concepts and working methods have to be renewed and adapted to the challenges of this new situation. If we work together, we will succeed. The Global MIL Research Agenda is the best way to achieve this”, said Tornero.

José Miguel Túñez López, professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela, highlighted the transdisciplinary nature of the meeting, as well as the need to include the entire population in the objectives of the proposed initiatives: “MIL is a necessity in all social strata and needs a progressive knowledge that raises it from a necessity to a preferential focus of action in the design and execution of public policies that allow the projection of more egalitarian societies and help to re-understand the emerging values that support the concept of public value”.

Dr. Carmen Marta Lazo, Professor of Journalism and Director of the Predepartmental Unit of Journalism and Audiovisual Communication and Advertising at the University of Zaragoza, highlighted the growing awareness of the need for media literacy and pointed to the incursion of artificial intelligence, social inequalities and the consequences for mental health as the main challenges to be faced in the coming years. “The digital divide in different typologies (age, territorial and social) makes it difficult for all vulnerable groups to participate in e-administration and in the e-administration and digital culture in a solvent way, which has repercussions on social inequalities”, said Lazo.

Juan Francisco Jiménez Jacinto, Director of the Department of Communication at the Universitat Abad Oliba CEU, insisted on the need for the Academy to serve as a reference and provide solutions to achieve the objectives of the MIL Agenda. “The main contributions should come from research that defines the magnitude of the challenges we face, presenting an accurate map of the reality in order to address targeted solutions’ and added ‘Dissemination is key in the visibility of the advances that the Academy determines so that there is an effective transfer of knowledge to citizens”.

Santiago Tejedor, director of the Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación of the UAB, agreed on the importance of forging an alliance between universities, researchers and teachers from all over Spain to “promote work to redefine the strategies that address media literacy”. “The new contexts and new technological developments, led by AI, demand networking, collaboration, horizontal and multidisciplinary work. Added to this is the importance of taking advantage of all the work carried out in previous decades, which is of great value, but which requires new reflections”, added Tejedor at the end of his speech.

In addition to the aforementioned professionals, the meeting was attended by: Andrés Armas from Alfa-Media, Javier Marzal from the University Jaume I of Castellón, Dr. Félix Ortega from the University of Salamanca, Almudena Barrientos from the Complutense University of Madrid, Bella Palomo from the University of Málaga, Simón Peña, Amor Pérez, Rosa Franquet, Juan José Perona, Evaristo González and the researchers of the Gabinete Cristina Pulido and Besanya Santiago.

After the success of this first meeting, the Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación, through its projects and initiatives, and the UNESCO MILID Unitwin Cooperation Programme, together with teachers, communicators and journalists from different Spanish organisations, will continue working to strengthen the establishment of media literacy policies and initiatives that help to develop the critical capacity of citizens and respect for democratic values.

The Gabinete de Comunicación y de Educación is a consolidated group specialised in scientific research and dissemination, which belongs to the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). Recognised by AGAUR(Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca) of the Generalitat de Catalunya as a Consolidated Research Group on the basis of its trajectory, projection and development, it develops projects and research in the field of convergence between communication and education. Since its creation, it has developed initiatives aimed at integrating, with awareness and freedom, communication technologies in the so-called global or knowledge society. Under the direction of Santiago Tejedor, the Gabinete organises different Master’s Degrees, such as the Master’s Degree in Travel Journalism (on-site and online), the Master’s Degree in Communication and Education, the Master’s Degree in Environmental Communication and the Master’s Degree in Political and Electoral Communication Management. The group has a wide and varied collection of publications, in the form of scientific articles, books and book chapters, and other works, which is constantly being renewed. It also has a laboratory for teaching innovation projects, transfer and new formats that are conceived and developed from a perspective based on creativity and multidisciplinary work.

The Gabinete organises every year an academic expedition that travels around the world with students from different universities and careers. This is the Tahina-Can Expedition, which has been awarded as the best educational project in Spain. It also has the portal Tu Aventura, the educational platform InfoEDU and the newsgames and science project Reporter@s de la Ciencia.

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