WACC Summer School: “Communication changes lives”
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WACC Summer School: “Communication changes lives”


Claribel (Puerto Rico), Emmanuel (Puerto Rico), Jiovany (Jamaica) and Stephanie (Haiti) shoot a short film during WACC’s Summer School. Photo credit: Lorenzo Vargas.

Turning communication rights theory into tangible social change was a key theme of WACC’s 2016 Summer School, held between July 25th and July 29th in Mandeville, Jamaica. Seventeen participating students and seven teaching faculty, all in all representing more than 10 countries, engaged in five days of discussions on the ways in which a rights-based approach to communication can make a difference in the lives of people in their communities.

In addition to the two introductory sessions on Communication Rights and on Gender and Communication on the first day, the Summer School featured sessions on communication for social change, storytelling from a peace-journalism perspective, culture and communication in the Caribbean, faith and development, media ethics, privacy, theatre for social change, and children’s rights. To view the Summer School timetable and a list of teaching staff, please click here.

Communication rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

During the first part of the week, students engaged in group work to apply key ideas from the first two days of sessions (communication rights, gender and communication, communication for social change, and faith and development) to an SDG of their choice in one of the participants’ countries. Groups focused on areas such as the communication and gender dimensions of poverty eradication in India (SDG 6) in the context of the caste system, the role of media in building a more inclusive and equitable Germany (SGD 10) as the country continues to welcome asylum-seekers, and the role of public communication in setting agenda for economic policies in the Caribbean as the region struggles with youth unemployment and economic growth that is far from inclusive (SDG 8), among others.

The exercise provided an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the post-2015 development agenda from a critical thinking perspective that puts communication rights at the centre, as well as to learn about some of the social challenges facing their countries, both in the North and the South.

Photo (right) credit: Mark Beach. WACC Summer School participants with the West Indies Federation flag. 

Building Peace and Justice Story by Story

During the second week of the Summer School, students worked collaboratively to develop video storytelling treatments focusing on a topic of their choice. The objective of this exercise, facilitated by Mark Beach, a communications specialist from Mennonite Disaster Service, was to allow students to apply concepts of storytelling and peace journalism to a concrete communication project.

The result of this exercise was a number of video storytelling treatments that students intend to turn into short films over the next few weeks, as well as short videos on HIV/AIDS and resiliency, the importance of recognizing our common humanity, and the caste system in India. These videos are still being edited ad will be posted on WACC’s website in the near future. 

Photo (left) credit: Lorenzo Vargas. Emmanuel, Robin, Sasha, and Stephanie delivering a presentation on how SDG 8 applies in the Caribbean from a communication rights perspective.

Communication rights enable other human rights

One of the main takeaways of the Summer School was the need to recognize that communication rights are vital in enabling and protecting other human rights. This is because communication structures and processes are deeply connected to all social relations, making engagement in the realm of communication pivotal in building more democratic societies.   Communication rights to need to be promoted in tangible and context-specific ways in order to help create societies that are transparent, value accountability and participation, and foster equity and inclusion.

The Summer School concluded with students receiving a certificate for their participation and with an evening of culture and jerk fish at the nearby beach town of Little Ochi. Photo (right) credit: Lorenzo Vargas. Priscilla, Janiva, and Ankelelya from Suriname receive Certificates of Participation from WACC Staff. 

About WACC’s Summer School

WACC held its biennial Summer School, entitled “Communication Rights and Religion”, in Mandeville, Jamaica, in collaboration with the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) on July 25-29. The Summer School was in cooperation with the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, and the World Council of Churches (WCC) and with the support of the Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschland (EMW).

WACC thanks all those who made the Summer School possible, including students, faculty, support staff, supporters, and partners.

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