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Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham launches Media Course with UNESCO’s Model Curriculum
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has become one of the first universities in India to launch a media course in keeping with the spirit of UNESCO’s Model Curriculum for its undergraduate degree programme.
UNESCO’s Model Curriculum, which was launched in June last year, has been designed by a select group of media scientists and practitioners drawn from across the world, including India.
The curriculum provides for changes to suit the local learning environments.
“We decided to organise the journalism programmes around three curricula axes: professional skills; social, cultural, political, economic, legal, and practical aspects of journalism practice; knowledge of the world,” Michael Cobden, one of the key planners of the UNESCO Model Curriculum, had said during the launch in Singapore last year.
Amrita is already offering successful programmes at the postgraduate level. “We’ve made a few adjustments to ensure a smooth transition from UNESCO’s UG curriculum to our own postgraduate programmes.
Integrating the PG and UG programmes presents a major challenge to any academic body designing the curricula,” says Prof. Rakesh Katarey, Faculty in-charge.
Not surprising because students who enter media courses at the PG level are from both, cognate and non-cognate streams.
“What may seem like repetition of course content for some (students who join PG after doing Bachelor’s in media), is often fresh knowledge for those getting into media directly at the Master’s level,” says Ashwin, a student of Amrita.
However, not all students joining mass communication courses are necessarily looking for careers in journalism alone. “I always wanted to get into short filmmaking or advertising,” recalls Balaji, alumni of Amrita who is now working for a prominent FM Radio channel.
Recognising this need, beginning last year, Amrita introduced the M.A. Communication programme that used the cafeteria approach.
This approach provides Masters students the flexibility to select and specialise from a list of diverse communication streams including journalism, where each stream of electives has equal depth. “The challenge was to design courses that complement one another, providing for both, continuity and change,” says Prof. Katarey.
“Over time the industry’s reliance on media schools for fresh recruits has grown. Simultaneously, technology-intensive media have also grown, shifting the goal posts from social understanding to mastering technology and techniques.
The domain knowledge of the budding journalists is no longer society but media itself,” he adds.
In December 2005, UNESCO convened a meeting of journalism educators in Paris to consider the broad outlines of an ideal curriculum in the study of journalism.
Following this, in 2007, the Model Curriculum was formally launched at a joint plenary session organised by the World Journalism Education Congress and the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), Singapore.
“In many ways, we found that UNESCO’s model curriculum was trying to fill the yawning gap between what a journalist ought to know and what the journalist is currently being trained to know,” feels Prof. Rakesh.
Broadly, the curriculum underlines the course content across three broad axes: professional practice (47 per cent), journalism studies (10 per cent), and arts and science (43 per cent).
By doing so, amongst other things, the curriculum seeks to revert to the times when young journalists understood society and journalism was truly the sounding board of public opinion.
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