By: Dr. Saima Saeed/ Refresher Course Coordinator
For the first time in 2013 and what might arguably also be a first in the history of Mass Communication teaching in the country, CCMG offered an interdisciplinary Refresher Course (RC) in ‘Media Studies and Governance’ from 15th February, 2013 to 7th March, 2013.
This turned out to be not just a unique teaching-learning experience for both CCMG and the RC participants but also a novel course for the UGC-Academic Staff College, Jamia Millia Islamia from where it was imparted.
The Concept of Refresher Courses
The University Grants Commission, following the National Policy on Education 1986, has set up various Academic Staff Colleges (ASCs) in differen Universities/Institutions across the country in order to conduct and impart Refresher Courses (RCs) for in-service teachers and Orientation Programmes for young faculty members. These provide a unique opportunity to teachers to learn more from co-participants, colleagues and resource persons so as to update themselves with the latest developments in their field or in another inter-disciplinary (ID) area that interests them.
Moreover, as per UGC notification on “Revision of pay scales and minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers in universities & colleges and other measures for the maintenance of standards, 1998”, in addition to the other requirements that must be met for placement in senior scale, a lecturer should also participate in one orientation programme and one refresher course in order to be promoted to the next pay band. The UGC has set a list of guidelines pertaining to the eligibility criteria to attend the OPs and RCs.
The batch had an exciting mix of applicants (just as we at CCMG had anticipated) but the number of forms and the enthusiastic response that it drew from across Central and State universities frankly surpassed our expectation. It was almost as if scores of teachers involved in teaching mass media-related courses had been waiting for an RC on media for years and this was their opportunity to enrol.
Structure of the Refresher Course on Media Governance
As for the curriculum design and pedagogical issues of making it as interesting as possible, this three-week RC was broadly divided into four components which are also a key area of intellectual and teaching engagement at the Centre. The four thrust areas of the RC were:
- Media Studies: Disciplinary & Interdisciplinary Intersections
- Media and Mediation of Cultures
- Governing Media
- Media and Governance
A select line of well-known scholars from India and abroad were identified as the resource persons for the RC for deliberating and delivering lectures during three-week long intensive Course.
Prof. Nikhil Sinha, Vice Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University inaugurated the RC while critically charting a ‘thick description’ of the background, looking at media institutions, products/ texts and their reception as three key and significant moments, as well as areas of inquiry, as far as communication and media scholarship has concerned itself with so far.
Following this, over the next 20 days or so we set out to cover the four course components that had been identified.
Component 1: Media Studies: Disciplinary & Interdisciplinary Intersections
Within this component of the course our focus was on key conceptual issues that lie at the intersection of Communication Studies as an area of interdisciplinary Inquiry and Epistemological query. Attention was paid to methods in Communication Research, the shifting paradigm of Journalism Studies from profession to studies orientation for instance and finally on the State of Communication Research as well as on mapping communication studies in India.
Key speakers who contributed to these discussions included:
- Prof. Yogendra Singh, Professor Emeritus, JNU who spoke on ‘Communication and Social Science: A Conceptual Engagement’ (and was there for the Valecdictory as well!)
- Prof. Gopalan Ravindran, Professor and Head, Dept.of Journalism and Communication, University of Madras who lectured on ‘Multidisciplinarity and Journalism Studies’
- Prof. Biswajit Das, Director, CCMG who provided a detailed ‘Overview of Mass Communication Education in India’
Component 2: Media and Mediation of Cultures
This component flagged a whole lot of issues surrounding ‘Communication as Culture and Culture as Communication’, alluding to the Culture Industry, Cultural Identity and Communication and Culture, Nation and Communication. We deliberated on Media and Globalization, the borderlessness of the world, deterritorialisation of Communication, cultural hybridity and transnational Communication. Some of the resource persons of this module included:
- Dr. Babli Moitra Saraf, Principal I. P. College, Delhi University spoke on ‘Culture as Mediation’
- Dr Nita Mathur from IGNOU deliberated on the subject of ‘Making a Spectacle of Consumption: Consumer Culture, Media and Identity’
- Prof. Sugata Bhaduri, JNU “Issues and Concerns in Media and Popular Culture Studies”
- Prof. Seemi Malhotra, Dept of English, JMI very pertinently flagged the idea of ‘Digital Humanities’ and the cleavages in the teaching and the production of the text which is usually outside of the conventional classroom space.
Component 3: Governing Media
In this third component of the RC, the Field of Media Policy, Media Law and Media Regulation were articulated in order to examine the stakeholders, interest groups and ownership patterns, the concerns arising out of a Media as Public Good and from Public Interest positionality. The specificities of Media Economics were discussed at great length. Special attention was paid to Informatics, Technology & Governance, Regulatory Challenges of New/Social Media, Issues in Telecom Policy and Work & Labour in the Information Age. Key resource persons of this module were:
- Dr. Babu Remesh, IGNOU took a session on `Importance of Interdisciplinary Research’ (With special reference to Labour in Media and Information Sectors)
- Dr Pradosh Nath, Chief Scientist, NISTADS and an economist discussed the key features of what constitutes ‘Media Economics’ and was able to demystify many of the complex economic concepts that surround the discipline.
- Dr Laura Stein, University of Texas at Austin deliberated on two important issues: one, ‘New TV Platforms’ and second, the all-important area of ‘Dimensions of Media Convergence’.
- Dr Saima Saeed, Associate Professor, CCMG, discussed the ‘Political Economy of Communications Perspective’.
- Dr. Minna Aslama, Assistant Professor, St. John’s University combined some of the elements of Component 1 and 3 and spoke on “How to Teach about Media in the Era of Digitalization and Globalization? Bring in Multi-Disciplinarity!”
- Mr Sandeep Bhushan, eminent journalist, mapped the shifts in the profession of journalism and the changes in the current newsroom practice.
Component 4: Media and Governance
The final component covered broader ambits, those of Gender and Media, Health and Media, Media, Rights and Citizen movements and Media and Democracy broaching on issues of Media Diversity and finally Media Governance. Key speakers included:
- Prof. Maitrayee Chaudhuri, JNU deliberated on ‘Gender and Media in contemporary India’ while invoking the categories of citizenship, community and the nation and how the press has since colonial times influenced them.
- Prof. Gita Bamezai, IIMC examined the ‘Changing Roles of the State, Market and Profession in Strengthening Democratic Promise and Performance of Media Systems’. She also raised some salient issues surrounding media and health.
- Dr Vipul Mudgal, journalist and academic looked indepth at ‘Political Communication’ and raised issues with regard to media and democracy.
- Mr. Brahmanand Brahma, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting charted the “Innovation Roadmap for Media” in a macro perspective.
- Prof. Daniel Drache, York University, spoke of media in the age of the facebook and twitter and how social movements have altered WHAT in the digital age.
Furthermore, as part of this Refresher Programme the participants had the opportunity of participating and attending the inaugural as also the various thematic sessions of the two-day long international conference on ‘Media Governance 2013’ organized by CCMG at Jamia. The International Conference titled ‘ Contours of Media Governance: Teaching, Disciplinarity, Methodology’, from 25-27 February 2013 started with a public lecture on ‘ Publics & Policy: Challenges to Interdisciplinary Communication Studies’ by Prof. François Heinderyckx, President-elect, International Communication Association & Professor, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.
Following this, for the next two days on the 26th and the 27th Feb, 2013, the RC participants were able to listen to some of the best known media scholars from across the world.
In the end, as the course coordinator for this RC, and a person who spent the 3 weeks with the participants including getting them assessed as per UGC criteria, I look back at the RC with fond memories of a lot of sharing, learning as well as fun. Not to mention that such critical reflections on communications all packed in a three week programme has been both challenging and enthralling for both the organizers and the participants. I must add that the RC participants had been a very engaging group. Not only did they actively participate in all aspects of the programme but have been one ‘live’ ‘egroup’- exchanging ebooks and loads of reading material, all of which synergised our understanding of Media teaching and research in a unique way.
We hope to have broken fresh ground in capacity-building and training of faculty members in the country so that media teaching and education is not just popularised but significantly benchmarked to the level of the debates on media at the international fora as also in the academia.
We look forward to organizing many such Refresher Courses on ‘Media Studies and Governance’ in the future!
Author of Screening the Public Sphere: Media and Democracy in India (Routledge 2013), Dr. Saima Saeed is Associate Professor, CCMG, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is may be contacted at email@example.com.