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Empowering Youth to Fight for Social Justice

  • Yonty Friesem

Collaboration, connection, and community. These are the hallmarks of the new Master of Arts (MA) degree in Civic Media at Columbia College, in which graduate students merge activism with media practice. Students are expected to design, implement, and assess project-based solutions that address real community needs.

Most recently, eleven students from the first cohort were divided into four different projects as they planned their practicum in the fall of 2019 and started to work with the communities in spring 2020. A cohort is examining CLX and its network as one of its projects.

Yonty Friesem, Professor at Columbia College’s Civic Media program and Mindy Faber, Director at Convergence Design Lab, connected with CLX to engage in our community’s needs.

Through this connection, graduate students will collaborate with CLX's Youth Digital Media Activism (YDMA) Community of Practice, grantees, and larger community to better document the digital divide and the challenges of surviving the health and economic crisis in the out-of-school time space. The project will result in a report for CLX and its organizational partners about their social impact during the pandemic.

The civic media graduate students have started to research the organizational partners and conduct their impact research to form the report that will be shared at the end of July with CLX and its organizational partners. Each organization will provide three administrators or educators who took part in the transition to remote engagement and shared their experience. In addition, the graduate students will conduct a textual analysis of a variety of online resources to add context and evidence of the impact during the pandemic.

With this partnership between Columbia College Chicago with its new MA in Civic Media and CLX, we hope to provide an impactful resource for digital educators as a first step of collaboration toward social justice.