2010 u.c. berkeley global summer program

The Global Summer Program (GSP) is a unique opportunity for students from universities around the world to work together while exploring a specific issue and/or region in greater depth. The program also seeks to develop practical skills pivotal in both academic and policy setting arenas. This year’s course is sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

The program has several goals. First, it is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of key media outlets (operating in the West and in the Arab region) through which knowledge and understanding of the Middle East are formed and filtered. The course also aims to expose students to the ongoing intellectual and policy debate over the complex relationship between media and politics. Finally, it seeks to introduce students to distinct policy strategies in the form of media campaigns undertaken by international organizations in the fields of Human Rights, Development and Humanitarian Assistance, and Conflict Prevention.

The program will develop as follows:

Media & Power Politics: The Middle East in the Global Context
The first week will problematize the role of the media in relation to the systemic distribution of power among countries. In particular, the program will explore how geo-political and economic interests governing inter-state relations affect the media's selection of news, outlets, and audience strategies.

Imagining the Region: Debating Orientalism & Occidentalism
Building on the broad framework outlined in the previous week, the second week specifically explores how Western media outlets have contributed to, generated, and sustained an essentialized understanding of the “Arab Identity.” We will question the agency of the Western media in proposing an over-simplistic, often misleading, and frequently ideologically-driven idea of Arabs as “the enemy,” and review cases demonstrating how media has been strategically used to generate public opinion on largely unpopular foreign policy decisions. Conversely, we will investigate how the Arab media occidentalize the Western identity, contributing to a distortion of Western images and intentions. In particular, we will explore the role of Al-Jazeera in questioning the hegemonic presence of Western information around the world.

Transcending Identities
Finally, in the third week, we will explore the rise of new alternative media both in the West and in Arab countries. We will inquire whether these new media outlets  are effective tools to empower alternative voices within civil society. Finally, the summer session will close with a lecture and class debate on how to reconcile different views, images, and "Truths" about the West and the Arab world. We will investigate how we can use media to reconcile identities and cultures, to de-construct previously hardened identities, and to provide access to more genuine and less ideological information around the world.

The Skill-Building Program

The academic program is complemented by five practical media workshops led by a journalist. These workshops will provide students with an opportunity to develop, acquire and strengthen new media skills and explore innovative communication technologies available on the Internet. Students will be working in groups to develop websites that will be presented in a final session on Tuesday, August 10. A jury of scholars and media professionals will ask questions and provide a final assessment of the quality of the students' work.

Francesca Giovannini (academic program)
Tara Graham (media workshops)

Course Assistant

Andrew Reddie