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CAMBRIDGE -- "The Media and American Democracy" - an annual program held at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Graduate School for Education for secondary school educators - will expand to five other universities thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The program, which is co-sponsored by the Joan Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School and the Programs in Professional Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, looks at the critical intersection of media and politics and gives educators tools to teach their students how to be savvy news consumers and develop a "news habit" with a critical eye.
The weeklong program helps secondary school educators develop curriculum to fill in gaps left by many civics, journalism and history classes by looking at a variety of questions. What are the rights, roles and responsibilities of the media? How accurate is the news on the Internet? Are the media usurping the role of political parties? How does the media shape public opinion?
Co-founded and co-chaired by Former NBC and CBS correspondent Marvin Kalb, the program draws on the research and experience of scholars and practitioners including: Lance Morrow, essayist at TIME magazine; New York Times Washington Editor Jill Abramson; former ABC News’ Barrie Dunsmore; and PBS FRONTLINE’s senior producer, Michael J. Kirk, and Kennedy School Professor Thomas Patterson, among others.
"No program has pleased me more, no program am I more proud of," said Marvin Kalb, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center's Washington D.C. Office. "Secondary school teachers are undervalued and underpaid and deserve better understanding, support and training, which we are happy to provide every summer."
First offered in 1997, the program is held each summer in Cambridge and is limited to 150 educators. With funding for a three-year program from the Knight Foundation, the Harvard organizers will develop strategic partnerships with five other universities - University of California/Los Angeles-Annenberg, University of Miami, University of Texas, University of Missouri-Columbia, and Syracuse University. Journalism-related groups, such as Newspapers in the Schools program and The American Society for Newspaper Editors, will collaborate with local school districts at each university site.
In the first year, the $825,000 Knight grant will underwrite the core program on the Harvard Campus from June 25-July 2 and the development of strategic partnerships around the country. During the second year, the University partners and the Harvard organizers - led by Kalb and Patterson from the Kennedy School and Linda Greyser and Janice Barrett from the Education School - will work to develop the curriculum and create the design of the teacher workshops on their campus sites. In the third year, the Knight grant will support the delivery and assessment of the teacher workshops around the country.
The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy is a research center dedicated to exploring the intersection of press, politics and public policy in theory and practice. The Center strives to bridge the gap between journalists and scholars and, increasingly, between them and the public. Established in 1986 by a gift from the Shorenstein Family, the Center has emerged as a major source for research on U.S. campaigns and elections, journalism and public policy, international news, and race, gender and the press. It is a widely respected convener of journalists, scholars and political activists working to help the press improve its role in democracy.
Programs in Professional Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education strives to be the best source of professional development for education. The program's goal is to help educators make a significant difference for their students, schools, and communities and to help the educators reach higher levels of personal and professional competence.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2000, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation makes national grants in journalism, education and arts and culture. Its fourth program, community initiatives, is concentrated in 26 communities where the Knight brothers published newspapers, but the Foundation is wholly separate from and independent of those newspapers.