Media educators have been challenged to be more tolerant towards different schools of thought from their students. This strong sentiment emerged from a discussion by the syndicate group on Diversity and Journalism Education held at the ongoing World Journalism Education Congress in Grahamstown, South Africa.
Diversity is a multifaceted term which is interpreted in different ways in many countries, but there is some general agreement about the major elements, which include age, disability status, ethnicity, gender, political ideology, race, region of origin, religion and sexual orientation. Other characteristics that cited as relevant specifically to the hiring of a diverse faculty include amount of professional experience, area of scholarship, income, class or parental status
Participants felt that accepting different schools of thoughts was one to ensure everyone’s views all students views are heard and appreciated in class.
“We have to accept that diversity is a source for critical thinking and as such we have to be in that position where we allow our students to reflect and say out their experiences. This is something we can do because it is about how we teach them,” said Rhodes University’s Dr Anthea Garman, an expert in the group.
Another participant, Ibrahim Saleh noted that citizens need to be oriented to embrace diversity and media educators can begin to contribute to that process by effectively capturing differences in views.
The syndicate expressed interest in the general approach proposal by the Network of French Speaking Universities presented by University of Paris’s Pascal Guenee.
The proposal has three approaches to integrating diversity in journalism education:
- the first one looks at the selection of students;
- the second one questions the place for diversity in university journalism teaching
- and the last category focuses on the dialogue between journalism schools and local media.
Participants agreed that media educators could at least contribute effectively to category one and two through changing their approach to teaching and allowing alternative views to flow in their classes.
There was a general understanding and feeling that media educators are often intolerant of views that are different from their own – and this needed to change.
“We need to go beyond tolerance and into active encounters, to achieve diversity,” added Garman.
The three-day WJEC seeks to find solutions to effective journalism curriculum in an era of radical change. It is attended by media educators from around the world.