Multimedia for Social Change


This course is for students who want to use participatory multimedia as a tool for real social change. From the birth of Indymedia during the Battle of Seattle, to the growth of MoveOn as a significant player in Presidential politics, to the visibility of Twitter in the Iranian election crisis, to LA-based community media projects like Mobile Voices, the appropriation of new media tools and skills by community based organizations and social movements is a key aspect of our rapidly changing times.

In this innovative service-learning course and workshop, students will work with community based organizations in Los Angeles to help develop participatory media projects for social change. Course instructors will help participants find a community partner, either individually or in teams. Participants will work with the community partner to develop and implement a plan for a participatory media project, and will meet in a weekly seminar to share, reflect upon, and workshop their project together with other students.

A set of core texts provides theoretical grounding and knowledge of case studies in participatory media for social change. The course opens with an overview of the history of media and social change, from activist efforts to political campaigns to games for change; it then moves on to study current work in Los Angeles.

There will also be a multimedia laboratory component of the course, based on participant skills and interests and the needs of the projects. Tools and skills may include: content capture with audio, video, and mobile devices; multimedia search, annotation, and archiving; dynamic web (‘Web 2.0’) tools for distribution and community networking; Free Software; participatory project design; collaborative editing processes, etc. The workshop will make use of the production facilities and Mac-based computer labs at USC’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy.

Overall, this course offers students a chance to think through a project in-depth, working from a body of research and a palette of media tools to produce projects appropriate to specific audiences, messages or arguments, and situations. It also gives students a chance to connect their work with ‘on the ground’ realities.

For more information, check out the course syllabus:


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