Communication, Media Studies & Tourism Management

Course Overview


Special Topics: Digital Culture for Social Change


CEA Partner Institution: CEA Seville Center
Location: Seville, Spain
Primary Subject Area: Media Studies
Instruction in: English
Course Code: MED380SVQ
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: Introduction to media and/or communication studies


Digital culture is an overarching, though vaguely defined, concept pointing at current events and practices in the new media-cultural environments generated by the process of digitalization: social networks, gamification & ludology, net activism, media literacy, citizen journalism, (micro)blogging, transmedia storytelling, net.art, and so on. As stated by MIT scholar Henry Jenkins, this new (digital) paradigm is born out of the convergence between the old and the new media, triggering a dramatic re-assessment of the roles traditionally applied to and performed by media industries and/vs. individual agents-consumers. Beyond a model merely based on interactivity through technology, the 'digital turn' highlights an enhanced participatory culture and new forms of social, political and consumer empowerment. As a result, the question of access to technology and digital divide needs to be addressed not only as an endeavor to provide more efficient and sanitized business and trade scenarios and networks, but primarily as a major concern for the evaluation of collective and democratic life in the globalized world. The main focus of this course is thus to raise awareness on the socially transformative potential of new media practices.

The first part of the course begins with a brief introduction to the necessary theoretical background on digital culture. We will discuss on the concepts and the main theories (critical and non critical) that presented (and still do) interpretative frameworks on the ever-changing and ever-expanding field of digital communication. We then explore different topics combining theoretical discussion with a practical approach and a focus on initiatives and projects developed locally (at the host city/region). Topics are related to the aforementioned digital practices informing the realm of digital culture: from an analysis of how social networking helped/helps to channel the experience and social goals of local grassroots movements, to a hands-on perspective on (micro)-blogging and/or advertising 'with a cause'. Class time will consist of an integration of in-class research (including seminars and round tables led by the instructor and guest speakers) and onsite research (learning and surveys with local agencies and associations).
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