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Going global: How our critical thinking media project was embraced by one of world’s top unis

Media Academy

The InQueensland Media Academy is going global, with some of the state’s best educators set to work with students at one of the world’s leading universities, UCLA in the United States.

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The UCLA Department of Philosophy has asked the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project and Department of Education’s IMPACT Centre to co-deliver critical thinking and media literacy lessons to students taking part in UCLA’s Critical Thinking Summer Institute.

That means some of Queensland’s best educators will help teach high school students wanting to earn credit towards future UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) study. They could come from Los Angeles or potentially anywhere in the world.

The Media Academy project has already been a local success story, with plans to expand further, as InQueensland continues to publish student journalism that is being noticed overseas. The Media Academy initiative was launched in April.

UCLA’s Brian P. Copenhaver Professor of Philosophy, Calvin Normore, endorsed the approach and said the university was proud to become a partner.

“When misinformation and bullsh*t are everywhere, critical thinking without media literacy is virtually impossible,” Normore said.

“That is why our UCLA Critical Thinking Summer Institute for High School students has media literacy as a central component. The UQ Critical Thinking Project and the Queensland Department of Education’s IMPACT Centre are world leaders in critical thinking pedagogy and the InQueensland editorial team have worked wonders in showing how young writers,  well taught, can tell the news like it is – and in really interesting ways.“

Glen Watt, director of the IMPACT Centre, said it was exciting to have such a prestigious university ask Queensland educators to inspire future students.

“It’s a considerable achievement for Queensland’s Department of Education and the University of Queensland’s Critical Thinking Project,” Watt said.

“This global collaboration adds to our success in delivering critical thinking programs to over 13,000 students and 900 educators right across Queensland since 2012. The UQCTP team co-design our programs, then we apply our online expertise to improve outcomes and build capability on a large scale.”

UQ Professor of Philosophy, Deborah Brown, said the ground-breaking project had helped make the InQueensland Media Academy “something very special”.

“Training young people in critical thinking and media literacy in the context of their producing real journalism is very empowering for them and gives jaded oldies like me hope for this post-truth world,” Brown said.

“The fact that the Media Academy, in such a short span of time, is attracting global recognition is an incredible achievement.”

UQ’s UNESCO Chair in Journalism, Peter Greste, said students would continue to benefit.

“We’re teaching them to produce works of journalism of course, but this is not just about turning out young journalists,” Greste said.

“This is about giving students the opportunity to use the tools of the trade to interrogate the world around them, and explain how they see things. And it’s about teaching them how the news sausage is made, by making sausages themselves.”

In the UCLA institute, students will be immersed in philosophy and critical thinking workshops over three weeks. Media literacy skills will be a practical component where students can apply media literacy and critical thinking skills to develop high quality, balanced news stories.

Students from 14 Queensland schools have already participated in the Queensland program, with another four schools currently working to deadlines. A selection of their articles has been published on InQueensland and will be regularly updated – and free to read.

“InQueensland has its very foundations in the importance of independent, unbiased public interest journalism, and we’re delighted to see that this world-leading initiative has been recognised, and adopted, so quickly,” said InQueensland Editor and Publisher Peter Atkinson.

Examples of the InQueensland Media Academy’s work can be found on our homepage, click here to see our Media Academy. 

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